MARK DANIELS, JR.: Learn How to Play My Kind of Video Games - Major League Fishing
MARK DANIELS, JR.: Learn How to Play My Kind of Video Games
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MARK DANIELS, JR.: Learn How to Play My Kind of Video Games

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Keeping eyes on electronics is the kind of "video gaming" that Mark Daniels, Jr., prefers. Photo by Phoenix Moore
December 19, 2019 • Mark Daniels, Jr. • Angler Columns

Playing video games can be a fun way to pass the time, but nothing beats “video game fishing” with my electronics. It’s gotten to the point that when I’m fishing around home during the colder months, I hardly ever fish the bank, and am always offshore looking for schools of fish.

It’s addicting, and for me, it’s right up there with punching a big weight through the mats in terms of my excitement level. Through the years, I have learned a few tricks that may help improve your video game fishing.

Electronics

Having working electronics on your boat is a must for this technique, and even though we all get caught up in the latest and greatest technology that’s available, I still use standard 2D sonar to find baitfish, which is the biggest key this time of year. It could be threadfin shad, blueback herring, or whatever the forage is in your lake, but finding them is the best way to find bass when the water is cold.

The first thing I do when I launch the boat is to start watching my electronics to get a clue to where the baitfish are positioned, and make a mental note about what depth they’re in. This allows me to narrow my search down to that depth zone, and I also pay attention to where the baitfish are.

Are they on points or in the back of creeks? All of these little clues will help you find the bait and the bass faster.

I use every tool available to me and will use my standard 2D sonar, side-scanning, down-scanning, and of course, the Garmin Panopix LiveScope. All of them work together and help me catch fish this time of year, and I’m always paying attention to all of the different screens when searching for bass.

Find the Baitfish

As I mentioned, finding the baitfish is the number one key this time of year, and I think there’s a misconception that you have to be around some kind of structure to find bass. From my experience, none of that matters during the late fall and into the winter when the water starts to reach 55 degrees and below.

The bass will roam and search for baitfish and become pelagic for a few months before they start thinking about spawning, and that goes for smallmouth, spotted, and even largemouth bass. All they care about is finding food.

Locating fish and offering them the bait they want that day is the challenge of video game fishing. Photo by Josh Gassmann

Video Game Baits

Watching a fish below the boat and trying to fool them with a lure is so much fun, and sometimes it’s pretty easy, and sometimes you have to work to get them to bite. I’ve found that a jigging spoon, Ned rig, drop-shot, and the “Damiki Rig” are all excellent ways to catch them.

I like to fish a 3/4-ounce jigging spoon in a solid white color because it is such a good bait to fish vertically beneath the boat. You can catch a bunch of bass on them, and I have a few where the white paint is completely gone from catching so many fish.

I also like a Ned rig on a 1/5-ounce Z-Man Finesse ShroomZ jighead, and even though it doesn’t look like a shad the Green Pumpkin Goby color of the Z-Man Finesse TRD or the Z-Man Trick ShotZ are two of my favorites for the Ned Rig.

I’ll also use a drop-shot and the “Damiki Rig” with a Z-Man StreakZ in the Smelt or Shiner color on a 3/8-ounce jighead.

Getting them to Bite

Sometimes just dropping a bait on the head of a bass will be enough to get them to bite, but sometimes it’s a little trickier. At this time of the year, I’ve found that bass are looking up to feed, and it is best to keep the bait above them. If they are down 40 feet, I’ll drop my lure to 35 feet and just let it sit there.

This works with all of the different lures, and you can often see them coming up to it, and they will eat it when it is sitting still. If the fish come up to inspect it but don’t bite, I’ll pull it up another few feet.

Fishing for fish you can see on your electronics is so much fun, and if you have never done it, beware, it can be highly addicting!