Reel Chat with BRENT EHRLER - Major League Fishing

Reel Chat with BRENT EHRLER

Keystone Light pro discusses his most recent FLW Tour win on Lewis Smith Lake, tips for getting started in tournament fishing and his favorite rod and reel combos
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For winning the second stop on the 2013 FLW Tour, Brent Ehrler earned $125,000. Photo by Brett Carlson. Angler: Brent Ehrler.
March 19, 2013 • MLF • Uncategorized

Welcome to FLW Live Reel Chat. Today we’re joined by Keystone Light pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., who recently took home the top prize of $125,000 after winning the 2013 FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake.

With over $2 million in career FLW earnings, Ehrler recently netted his fifth FLW Tour title with an impressive win on Smith Lake. Ehrler now boasts six tour-level victories since 2009 including: Smith Lake, Lake Hartwell, Table Rock Lake, Lake Ouachita, Lake Shasta and Lake Havasu. In addition, Ehrler also claimed a Forrest Wood Cup title in 2006 on Logan Martin Lake as well as the EverStart Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in 2004. Ehrler, who currently leads the 2013 FLW Tour Angler of the Year race, has turned in an astounding 31 top-10 finishes since he began his FLW career back in 2003.

Today, Ehrler is here to take questions from you, the fans. So, without further delay, let’s get started.

Q: I always hear pro anglers say they are targeting ditches or abnormal areas within a creek. How do you go about pinpointing these spots? If you run over one of these spots and you do not see fish on the finder, will you still fish it?
— Chris (Baltimore, MD)
A: Electronics play a major role in what we do. I use a Humminbird 1198 and in that Humminbird I use a LakeMaster mapping chip. That allows me to see the ditches – that mapping is so detailed a lot of times I can drive right to it. From there I know where to go and then I look at my sonar. If I don’t see fish I will fish there if the structure looks good enough. On a side note, if I see fish there and I don’t get a bite, I’ll still believe it’s a good spot. That actually happened this last tournament. I didn’t get a bite there in practice but went back during the tournament and caught three big ones on the first day.

Q: Did you weight your Senko at Lewis Smith Lake?
— Dave (Kenora, Ontario)
A: Most of them were weightless. When I got to the deeper stuff I used a drop-shot.

Q: What action rod do you use for wacky-rigged Senkos?
— Jason (Muncy, PA)
A: I use a Lucky Craft Reaction Tube rod. And the action is heavy with an extra, extra fast taper. What that means is that it has a soft tip for casting the bait and a lot of backbone for getting a good hook set.

Q: What was your primary bait during the Lewis Smith Lake tournament?
— Adam (Burlington, VT)
A: My primary bait was a Yamamoto 5-inch Senko. Over four days I weighed more fish on that than anything else.

Q: What was your rod, reel and line combo when using the Senko?
— Dave (Kenora, Ontario)
A: I was using the Lucky Craft Reaction Tube rod, it’s kind of a prototype, a Revo Premier 40 spinning reel and 12-pound Sunline SX1 braided line with an 8-pound Sunline FC Sniper fluorocarbon leader.

Q: With the water temperature where I live being around 46 degrees, I’ve been fishing crankbaits and jerkbaits really slowly and am not having any luck. Should I be fishing a different lure? I have also been jig fishing with zero luck.
— Jason Wilmes (Washington, IN)
A: It’s hard to say. Some of the best crankbait and jerkbait bites I’ve been on have been in cold water. You have to kind of take into account the lake itself. Maybe in the winter they won’t bite the crankbait and jerkbait on your lake. Maybe you can try fishing deeper with a worm or a jig. Try slowing down as well. You also might just need to look for new areas of the lake. If there are dark overcast skies, even if the water is colder, you can run around and fish the jerkbait and crankbait a lot faster. But if you have bluebird skies you might want to try either the worm or a jig.

Q: Congrats on the win Brent. What is your advice for young anglers who are pursuing careers as professional bass fishermen?
— Mic Miller (Buena Vista, GA)
A: I would always have something else going on too. By that I mean have a career other than fishing. Don’t dive in head first. Do something that allows you to have a career but still gives you time to go out and fish. If you dive in right away, it can be a big financial commitment and if you’re not prepared, you can really dig yourself a financial hole pretty quickly.

Q: What do you think you did differently that set you apart from the rest of the anglers on Smith Lake?
— Adam (Burlington, VT)
A: I think I convinced the fish to bite. Basically what I did was I saw the fish on the Humminbird and I would drop my bait down to them and leave the bait down there for a really long time. It took those fish forever to bite. I think what happened is that a lot of guys dropped their bait down and didn’t wait long enough. You really had to leave that bait there for a long time. It was almost like the fish really had to sit and look at it for a while before they were interested.

Q: What’s the best prespawn lure for fishing from shore on a lake with dirty, cold water, sparse grass and banks with stumps from cut frees and bush roots? It’s a community lake in Maryland and the bass range from 10 to 17 inches.
— PJ (Olney, MD)
A: Fishing from the bank, it’s sometimes really hard to fish a reaction bait. That being said, the prespawn is always a good time to fish a jerkbait. I would recommend a Lucky Craft Flash Pointer, it’s a brand new jerkbait that has more action to it than any jerkbait that Lucky Craft has ever made.

Q: Do you find it easier to pick apart and develop a game plan on a new lake or one that you already have experience on?
— Christopher York (Toccoa, GA)
A: Sometimes it’s almost easier on new lakes because you don’t have any preconceived notions. If it’s on a lake you have experience with, you tend to say the fish should be doing this or that and you talk yourself out of doing what you should be doing.

Q: What type of equipment did you use when throwing the A-rig?
— Dave (Kenora, Ontario)
A: I used an 8-foot heavy action rod designed for throwing swimbaits. And I think the biggest key is the reel. The reel I used is a Revo Toro – it’s a saltwater reel, their inshore series. It has a big, wide spool on it and is designed for fishing heavier baits.

Q: Hey Brent, if you could sum up your fishing life from the start until now, where is the point where you decided to make a career out of fishing? Also what was your method of acquiring sponsors?
— Taylor Odom (Meridian, MS)
A: I was dealing with sponsors well before I decided to make an actual career out of fishing. I worked closely with my local Ranger dealer and local rep groups from local industries. So basically I got involved on the local level before I did anything national. And then the turning point for me was the Forrest Wood Cup where I won in 2006.

Q: What knot do you use with fluorocarbon line?
— Jason (Muncy, PA)
A: I use a Palomar knot.

Q: Would you ever consider becoming a two-tour pro?
— JW (Winnfield, LA)
A: A lot of things would have to line up for that to happen. My committment right now is to fish FLW. But if something were to change in the future I’d look at it. But right now by committment is to FLW.

Q: What is the biggest mistake you see weekend anglers make? What is your worst technique?
— Dom (Syracuse, NY)
A: The biggest mistake I see weekend anglers make is that they go back to where the fish were the past week. They fish history instead of the current conditions. My worst technique would probably be punching a heavy weight.

Q: Why use such a heavy rod for a wacky-rigged Senko?
— Jason (Muncy, PA)
A: The thing about the rods I use (Lucky Craft Reaction Tube) is that they’re heavy. But the thing that makes those rods so good is that the taper is so fast. It has a very soft tip so it gives the action of a lighter-action rod. The appearance, the casting the bait, but when you reel down to set the hook, you have a really good backbone to your rod that really gets you a good hook set. And no other rods on the market today can really do that.

Q: What temperature does the water have to be before sight-fishing will come into play?
— Floyd McAdoo (El Dorado, AR)
A: It varies from lake to lake. To me it’s more of what the current weather is like. The fish might spawn in 58 degrees in this lake and 70 degrees in that lake. Year in and year out though, you’ll start to see the spawn generally happening across the country at the end of March. But you can’t really put a specific temperature on the spawn that will be applicable to all lakes.

Q: Did you fish the Senko around piers or were you mostly targeting points at Lewis Smith Lake?
— Chad Durden (Trussville, AL)
A: Mostly points.

Q: Congrats on the win. What size/kind of line do you use when fishing frogs in grass?
— Bryan (Tyler, Texas)
A: I use 50-pound Sunline FX2 braided line.

Q: How far from the dam was your best stuff on Smith?
— James (Cullman, AL)
A: I fished within a mile to about 15 to 20 miles away from the dam up in Ryan Creek.

Q: What do you do between tournaments?
— Floyd McAdoo (El Dorado, AR)
A: I spend a lot of time with the family.

Q: Ever been to Fisherman’s Retreat in Redlands?
— Alex Arellano (Los Angeles, CA)
A: I have. I used to go there quite a bit actually.

Q: At what depths did you target your fish?
— Nicholas (Terre Haute, IN)
A: I targeted fish in about 20 to 30 feet of water at Smith Lake – that was the key depth for me.

Q: First, what size jigs did you use on your A-rig? And secondly, what size hooks were you using? And what was the swimbait of preference to catch that monster bass that put you over the top?
— Dave (Kenora, Ontario)
A: I used a 1/4-ounce Smart Mouth jighead made by Picasso Lures along with a Picasso School-E-Rig. The good thing about that jig head is that it has a good 4/0 Gamakatsu hook. The monster bass was caught on a good shad-colored swimbait.

Q: What is the best drop-shot bait?
— Michael West (Hiawassee, GA)
A: One is a Roboworm and the other is a Yamamoto Thin Senko.

Q: Why does it seem everyone who leads a tournament on Smith Lake starts the final day right next to the takeoff site at the dam. It almost seems to be an unwritten rule. I remember Sean Hoernke did the exact same thing years ago.
— Gerry (Jasper, AL)
A: The premise behind it for me was that my fish weren’t biting until 10 a.m. So I was just hoping to catch a few before that time. Any fish I caught there, actually, I was going to consider a bonus.

Q: Brent, can you explain how you set up your electronics to see your bait and the fish following it?
— Bill Lee (Harker Heights, TX)
A: Most of the stuff I run is pretty standard. The way those things are set up, they work really well on “auto.” The one thing that does help is having it on the dual beam selection on the transducer. The reason for that is that you’ll have a better view of the bottom.

Q: Living in Missouri, I have had to force myself to slow down during the cold months. It seems that the big fish bite during these months. Can you shed some light on some of the things you look for when fishing during these months?
— Paul Thomas (Marshall, MO)
A: I usually look for good staging areas – areas where fish are going to group up. I’ll look for a point close to a creek channel for example, where fish can find shallow water close to deep water. If you can find these areas, you can get a lot of action.

Q: How many points/sections of a bank did you rotate through during the day, and were you looking at several fish on your meter or finding rogues?
— Jonathan (Jasper, AL)
A: I had probably a good 10 to 15 spots I was looking at on Smith Lake. And every one of those spots I felt like there were multiple fish on them. I wasn’t going to areas just looking for one fish.

Q: Do you use fluoro or mono when crankbait fishing? And why do you choose one over the other?
— Jorddan Danielski (Stevens Point, WI)
A: I use fluoro because I feel like the baits get deeper.

Q: Why did you opt for the Senko? I would think that that bait, especially the 5-incher, would be too bulky for a spotted bass with their small mouths and all.
— Chris M. (Huntsville, AL)
A: Out West on Lake Shasta, a lot of guys even use a 6-inch bait there for spotted bass. On Smith Lake, I found that the bigger fish bit the Senko and that I’d have a lot better chance winning with that bait than anything else.

Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have to chat with Brent Ehrler today. Thanks, once again, to all the fans who tuned in and participated in today’s Reel Chat. And a special thanks to Ehrler, the 2013 FLW Tour Smith Lake winner, for giving us his time and insights.