John And Margie Anderson - Family Fishing

It Only Took Once To Get Me 'Hooked'


February 1, 2018

We did "pretty well" when we were fishing AllStarBass.

When I met John (decades ago!), I had never really fished much at all. My dad took my brother and me hunting and camping all the time, and we always did a lot of target shooting, but we never really fished. In fact, I hadn't even seen most of the lakes because Dad didn't go there. Too many people, he said. But John was both a hunter and a fisherman. And once he took me fishing, I was hooked. We went to Christopher Creek and caught trout. I had a blast.

Bartlett Was Our Favorite

Once we got married, we traded his 3-wheeled ATV for a 12-foot row boat and put a 9 h.p. motor on it. We took that little boat all over the place, but Bartlett was our favorite. This was back before the road was paved, and it took forever to get there over all that washboard.

Because of the road, the lake was never crowded and there were no big boats out there at all. We used so see things like coatis and Gila monsters on that road, especially at night. John and I pretty much learned how to bass fish together. We bought every bass-fishing magazine we could lay our hands on, and we pretty soon we invested in a very small bass boat.

The Writing Begins

We started fishing couples' tournaments and we really enjoyed the camaraderie, but the club sort of fell apart after a few years. But John and I kept fishing and pretty soon were doing Wednesday night tournaments at Pleasant and going fishing every weekend too.

Then one day while John was at work, I wrote a story called "Night Fishing on Lake Pleasant" and sent it to Arizona Hunter and Angler magazine. Tom Stiles, the publisher, bought it! I was so excited that when I called John to tell him he thought I had crashed the car or something.

I kept writing, and wrote for Arizona Fishing News for a while, and then Tom asked me to write the fishing feature and a lake column for Hunter and Angler every month. That was seriously the most amazing job ever. I got to meet all the excellent AllStar Bass fishermen, and I got to learn a ton of stuff about bass fishing, and then share it with my readers.

Those Were Excellent Times!

Somewhere along the line John became the tournament director for AllStar Bass, and we had so much fun with all of those guys. Tom and his wife Karen, and Harry Morgan, the editor of the magazine, all came along to the tournaments and we shared the work and the fun. Those were excellent times! We did this until Tom sold the business. Because of my writing, we have gotten to go out with some of the best bass fishermen in Arizona. We have learned so much from all of them.

Now To Our Favorite

Our favorite technique is split-shotting. In spite of the drop-shot craze, we still boat the majority of our fish on a split-shot rig, and it works on any lake. It also works for trout and crappie – just change the size of the hook and the type of bait. Here's how you do it.

Use A Spinning Rod

First of all, use a spinning rod. That's the kind with the open reel that hangs off the bottom of the rod. You want one with good backbone and a fast tip. Look on the rod and it will tell you the size line and weight of lure it is designed for. It will also have letters denoting whether it is a fast or slow tip. This just tells you where it starts to bend.

Slow rods bend further down toward the reel. Fast ones don't bend much until near the tip. We usually use 8-pound-test line. You can use braided line, but we generally just use a nice mono. Look for a line that isn't stiff - stiff line will loop up on the reel and ruin your day. For bass, we use a size 1 or 1/0 offset hook, or even a 2 or 2/0. Usually we use a 1/0 because we use 4-inch plastic worms for bait.

Ways To Weight

There are lots of ways to weight a split-shot rig. The most common way to simply squeeze a spit shot onto the line. This has the advantage of being cheap and fast, but it can damage the line and cause you to break off on a big fish. If you choose to do this, don't use the removable kind with the ears – it will make your line twist like mad.

Another way is to use what's called a rubber nail and peg a very small sinker on your line. This is the way I like to do it because you can move the weight up and down to change the leader length, and it doesn't damage the line. You can also make a mini Carolina rig out of it by putting a small weight on (like 1/8 or ¼ at most), then tying on a swivel. Tie a leader and hook onto the other end of the swivel and you're ready to go.

Easy Does It

This is the easiest rig to fish ever. All you do is drop it over the side of the boat, let it hit bottom, and drag is slowly around. You can also lob it towards shore and drag it back. Just keep it on the bottom. Keep the rod down and the tip pointed at the lure, and hold the rod loosely to prevent hang-ups. You're still going to get hung up once in a while, but this will really help.

When you feel a bite, just sweep the rod back, keeping it parallel to the water. You don't have to slam it like they do on TV. Then keep pressure on that fish until you get him to the boat (or to shore). Since you're using light line and small hooks, a net is the best way to land a split-shot fish.

On Arizona's lakes, our favorite colors are Aaron's Magic, Tequila Sunrise, green pumpkin, pumpkin seed, and red. We love Robo Worms and any Yamamoto baits. In fact, split-shotting a small Yamamoto grub is an excellent way to catch both crappie and bluegills. The bigger ones will catch bass. I've even caught bluegills on big plastic worms – they are really aggressive.

Take Them All Fishing!

John And Margie Anderson "Back In The Day"

We love to take our granddaughters out fishing with us, and they love to go. Trinity can run the trolling motor, read the depthfinder, and fish all at the same time. They both love the outdoors.

If you have kids, take them fishing! You don't have to have a boat, and you don't even have to go to the lake. There are plenty of urban lakes that are stocked with fish. This split shot rig will catch everything from bluegills to catfish. Just size the line and hooks accordingly.

Almost any fish will eat a nightcrawler, and you can by those at stores near the urban lakes, or at any outdoor or tackle store. Go online to to see where to fish and what kind of license you need. You can even get a license online and print it out.

I hope that John and I see you on the water soon!


Reader Comments(1)

DABBER writes:

Margie, great story. I haven't heard about AZ Hunter & Anglers, Harry Morgan, and the crew for quite sometime. Thanks for the memories. Also, great transition into useful information. A couple close up pics of the rig set up would be fantastic. Keep up the good work. Doug Burt, AZGFD


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