Friday, December 12, 2014

Insight Genesis, Pretty Awesome.....

Last year I was introduced to Insight Genesis. Until that point I thought purchasing a $150-200 chip each time i visited a different region was the only answer to the question "Just what am I looking at?". Far too often I show up at a lake having done homework to find that what I thought was a hump is in fact a hole. Now this isn't necessarily a consistent problem but it happens often enough that it taught me I didn't have all of the tools I needed to get the job done.

Below is a screenshot of one of my uploads form my Bassmaster Central Open practice at Lake Amistad last February. On the left you see contours and on the right traditional sonar log form my Lowrance HDS 9. Now I was able to find what looked like slow tapering point on my Navionics chip. It also showed a fairly accurate target depth of where I had been regularly locating fish. 

If you look closely at the sonar you'll notice 2 echos clearly sitting just on top of the hump. I shut down, turned around and fired a Livingston Dive Master 20 and caught a 6 ponder. It couldn't have been anymore textbook. However It was the only one I caught after changing up and trying multiple presentations and angles. That ended up being the theme of the entire event. You could find one or two fish and you needed to make a move. In some cases you could come back to a spot and you may pick up another fish but there were no guarantees. If you didn't mark fish you best move on.

Now if I would have just looked at what the sonar and my Navionics chip showed, I would have missed the boat totally on just exactly what was drawing these fish to this particular spot. When I went back to the room that evening and uploaded my data I noticed the darker shading on the hump on the opposite side of the point from the main river channel noted in dark blue above. Its a little hard but that darker shading is right on the edge of where the fish were located on this hump. This is where the light switch went off!

For the remainder of practice I was able to use Insight Genesis to record data and generate a more accurate maps. These maps helped me to pinpoint small groups of fish holding near steep break-lines of humps and points near secondary creeks and drains, just opposite of the main channel. This ultimately led to an 18th place finish in the event just one lost keeper on day one kept me from making the top 12 cut. There is no doubt in my mind that without Insight Genesis I would not have been able to locate these sweet spots.

Now I know what your thinking. "This is going to take too much time." or "It has to be expensive.". Well its honestly not. An annual subscription is only $99 and a 2GB SD card is about $10. You can use pretty much any Lowrance unit to log sonar and create your maps. The upload tool makes it really simple to load your files without even having to log in to the website and depending on your internet connection it doesn't take too terribly long to upload.

If you get a chance stop by and check it out at I genuinely feel like this is truly the future of mapping. If nothing else, it is without a doubt a must have tool to help you unlock the mystery of what ACTUALLY lies beneath!

 - Mike Pharr - "The Fishin' Fireman"

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

2014 Bassmaster Central Open #1 Lake Amistad

We've all heard stories of tough tournaments with frozen guides, frozen fingers and toes that hurt as if frostbite is a certainty, But what's unheard of are these things happening at Lake Amistad. I mean this is a lake in south west Texas that is partly in Mexico! Byron Velvick has palm trees for crying out loud!

My first day on the water (Wednesday Jan 29th) the water temp was a balmy 48-49 degrees. Oh that's just about 8-10 degrees colder than the temps had been as little as a week earlier. I guess being pounded by rolling cold fronts some of which bring sleet & snow can tend to do that to body of water no matter where it is. The temp would warm up to about 54 degrees after a few days with the fish becoming a little more active but they still seemed to relate to deeper water with a more stable overall temperature.

One of the things I learned over the years is that under extreme conditions bass like to have a quick means of escape when conditions take a turn for the worst. This was never more true than what I witnessed with my own eyes here. I found out quickly that they were relating to the most extreme vertical drops I could find. These drops would allow for a quick escape the next time the "Polar Vortex" came to town. I found that ledges with 40'-60' of water next to a creek channel with a bluff drop 80'-100' were money almost every time. The most consistent of these locations were the ones where main creeks or large drains met the main river channel.

Once I located these fish they didn't seem to move much until they got fired up on schools of bait and moved on out into the 80-100' creek beds in which case I really had to rely on my Lowrance units to keep up. When they were active in the schools I caught fish in a variety of ways but really only had confidence in 2 primary techniques at the depths these fish were working at.

One of my primary and most consistent techniques was the drop shot. I caught the majority of my fish vertically presenting a V&M Shaky Shad in either "Smokin Shad" or "Arkansas Shiner". There were a few key things that I really relied on to make this successful. I used 6lb test HiSeas fluorocarbon, Mustad #2 Drop Shot hooks and Elite Tungsten's new 3/8 or 1/2 oz teardrop weights. I used spinning tackle as a good smooth drag was essential with the pound test line I was using. The sensitivity and control I had with my new TFO Gary Loomis Tactical DSS 733 was absolutely amazing. In 40'-60' of water feeling a bite is normally out of the question. Not the case with this rod. All I felt was a slight tick and the fight was on. Fatigue was also never an issue as it's the lightest spinning rod I've ever had in my hands.

The other technique that worked well when the time was right was the old trusty A-Rig. As an LSU fan I refuse to say what the "A" stands for but most of you already know so we'll leave it at that. I did well with the rigs with willow spinners but the main ingredient was the 5 V&M "White Ice" Thunder Shad swimbaits in tow. They are extremely soft but durable and present a very lifelike kicking action that the fish just cannot resist! I ended up with 3 keepers on this setup with my biggest of bout 3 3/4 lbs. on day 2. I did lose 1 jig on day 1 and probably the 5th keeper that day because of clip failure when I had two hooked up in 1 cast. Oh well that's one of the risks. This rig worked well on a Lews Super Duty 5.4:1 with 50 lb braid on a TFO Gary Loomis Tactical 7'11 Mag Heavy casting rod. The long rod and smooth reel helped with long casting and the slow ratio allowed me to crawl the rig at depths of 30'-40'. Also the lightness of the TFO rod helped to cut down on fatigue.

Of all the techniques and equipment I used to catch fish throughout practice and the tournament I CAN NOT brag enough on my Lowrance HDS Touch 9 and Elite 7 units. The 9 is mounted at the console with StructureScan and the Elite 7 is flush mounted in the bow with DownScan. They were so spot on that one day in practice with a Coangler, I marked a fish on the StructureScan and touched the fish which allowed me to mark a waypoint. I then shut down, trolled up to the waypoint with my Elite 7 as it was connected via Ethernet, and I marked the fish that was by itself. I then (with a bet I couldn't from my Coangler) dropped strait down and caught that fish on the first drop out of 50' of water. I definitely made Justin Perry a believer in Lowrance that day. Without a doubt I couldn't have had success without my graphs.

Even though I couldn't get that 5th fish in the boat on day one I can't complain about a top 20 under those conditions. I was less than 2 lbs from the cut and I feel very strongly that I could have caught a limit Saturday, but that's the name of the game. You win some and you lose most! Well something like that. All in all I feel very good about this year and I know I am off to a great start. I have decided that I'm not going to drop my shoulder and swing at the fence on every event anymore. After 13 professional level events and only 3 checks I need to focus more on solid finishes from here on out. Now a WIN, a 9th & an 18th aren't bad but I have learned that it is very possible to obtain a top 10-20 in every event if you stay grounded, make good decisions and maintain "realistic" expectations. Don't lie to yourself when you know your not on the fish to win. Bring the best 5 you can everyday and let the cards fall where they may. More times than not I've seen events fall short of the weights guys predict and 8-10 lbs a day can go a long way. Took about 27 for me to win Texoma.

I really want to thank all of my sponsors that are behind me this year and hope that those of you who read this will give their products a try. Without their help, dependable products and service I couldn't do what I do. Legend Boats, Mercury Outboards, Lowrance Electronics, V&M Baits, Despino's Jim's South Tire, Elite Tungsten, TFO Rods, Power-pole, LB3 Outdoors, Livingston Lures, Bob's Machine Shop, Hamby's Beach Bumpers, Jack's Quality Collision, Jerry's Complete Car Care, and Commercial Power Equipment of Shreveport thank you. I can feel a good year coming on and I'm glad you're all behind me!

"The Fishin' Fireman"

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Lake Amistad Del Rio, TX

Thursday, March 31, 2011

3yrs, 6mths, 29 days...

I thought about you again today as I often do when I find myself alone on the water. You were the one man I can literally blame for my addiction.

You bought me my first fishin pole. I remember this because there are pictures to prove it. How else would a man 34 years of age remember their first birthday.

In reflection it seems as if the years between then and now flew by in an instant. What I wouldn't give for one more day in a flat bottom scuttling through the cypress trees tight lining a red shiner.

So many stories, so many memories, so many little lessons that you taught me that helped lead me to where I am today. It never seems to fail when I find myself in Hick's Pocket it all comes rushing back and nearly takes my breath away.

I remember those early days when we would come in early to a pile of Nutter Butters and big bowl of vanilla ice cream served up from a gallon bucket that would later be used to freeze filets. Those ziplocks just wouldn't quite cut it. Still don't to be honest.

As a young man I had no patience whatsoever but you had more than enough for both of us. I remember fishing through a run of tops or down a row of button willows without a bight only to turn around an hour later and make that same run and load the boat. Your patience and instinct rubbed off on me no a doubt. Its shown on more than one occasion since you left.

It seems like just yesterday Bo called me on my way home from a day of pre-fishing for an event the following weekend on Red River and gave me the news. "He's GONE" he said. It was something that I had thought was impossible, but you slipped away sometime in the night lounging in that favorite chair of yours.

So much has happened since tha day that I would give anything for you to have been a part of. I have been truly blessed but there is still an emptiness when I think of what you would have said.

On July 8, 2008 stating through the glass of the nursery scared to death I wondered what would her nickname have been. Naturally keeping the Pharr tradition she soon acquired one. Little Halo sure would have loved her papaw.

On October 23, 2010 as I hoisted that trophy up on that stage in front of a rain soaked crowd there were many voices cheering but one was missing. Or was it?

On that last run in with 20 minutes to go I swear I heard you say "Stop here, be patient!". With the last cast call on the tip of my tongue I heard it again, "Just a little longer!". The rest is history.

I miss you and think about you quite often. Nobody would know it because I keep my feelings to my self as you always did. I often honk the horn on the medic unit as I pass your graveside on the way back to the station from another trip to LSU.

I hate to keep rambling on but I just had to tell ya whats been on my mind. Afterall we have to save a few things to talk about when we meet again. God knows these next 34 will be gone before you know it.

Well so long till then Papaw, but could you do me a favor between now and then? Stock that freezer up cuz we gonna have one heck of a fish fry when I get there. I'll bring the hushpuppies and cheddar peppers.

Mike posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What a way to start a season... Live and Learn...

It's been a long two and a half weeks. The tournament results weren't quite what I had planned but after a practice with only 1 keeper and one short fish, I feel certainly blessed to have been able to put a little sumpin sumpin together. Even if only to prevent me from acquiring the dreaded "Double Goose", I am proud of the fact I caught 2 more keepers that I had in 6 whole days of practice given the conditions.

You know it's funny how this sport works in that even in a situation with conditions as brutal as we had there is always a silver lining. If your optimistic even with a royal butt whippin' you can learn. In most cases it's "what not to do next time" but when we have this mentality there is something we often overlook.

In almost every case wether we see it or not you can take several days worth of horrible fishing and in hind site figure what you should or could have done differently. For me personally, 9 out of 10 times my gut told me what to do and I always have a plethora of excuses as to why I didn't act on instinct.

In my opinion it's like many critical situations we encounter in life. Our hunch's speak loud and clear but our minds being the control freaks they are by design say no. If it doesn't make since in our minds we are far less likely to take a risk.

It's time I put my foot down. If I am going to make it anywhere in this sport I have to be willing to risk more. If I get that hunch about a technique or pattern that should work I will at the very least try it. I'm only selling myself short in most cases if i don't.

Well I think its time to turn in. My little princess will be up and at em before you know it and I have SOOO much to catch up on tomorrow after being gone for two weeks.

Nite y'all...

Mike posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lake Lewisville Open Day 2

Ok this starting off exactly like the Lake Texoma Open. Well minus 70 degrees ad two layers of clothing.

I slept in, slowly drug my butt out to figure out how to fit 6 toats worth of tackle and gear into my boat and finish the day off with working out a few minor glitches or "bugs" on my rig so that I could concentrate on fishing and not worry about when I could take are of it later. Piece of mind in knowing everythings working properly can go a LONG way with our sport as for me about 90% of it is a mental game.

Well by the time it was all said and done it was dark. I took a lunch break and had to send the occasional email to make sure all my meetings were lined out fo Tuesday on my way through Shreveport To NO to the Classic Expo, but for the most part I was in deep concentration.

I had pretty much just thrown everything in the toats when I returned my buddies boat I used at Texoma (THANKS HOJO) but even though my house and personal organization skills are a mess I HAVE to be organized when I'm on the water. I have learned that when competitive fishing I have to have everything where I know where itis for two reasons. TIME & MONEY.

Time is money in a sense because I have to dig for something I can lose valuable fishing time . I can make a few cast in a minute and I'll let you do the math on what 5 minutes of digging cam cost. I mean 5 minutes is what one me the Texoma event. 5 minutes could hbe cost me over $20,000 - $30,000.

There is a little more to te money side of it however. It also makes it even more important to get organized before I make the first cast in practice as well. I can't tell you how many times I have got on a bite and gone to Academy and spent $50-$100 maybe even $200 on tackle just to return and find it a few days later. Now if it was just a pack of worms here and there it would be one thing but to tell the truth I don't have the willpower to go to Acdemy for a pack of worms. I always find something on sell when I get there. An you women think we are so much different! HA!!! Whatever I can do to keep myself out of that place I HAVE TO DO IT. we aren even gonna talk about BPS of Caellas. That reminds me....

Well I'm gonna hit a little more map study and then it's off to bed. Got a big day tomorrow and I have to make time to break in the old Merc Pro Xs and get my Humminbirds set up to my liking and get use to this new 1198 si. I can't believe it's only the second time I have had the old Legend Alpha 211 in the water.

Good night guys and galls I'll be sire to check back in tomorrow for those of you who are interested in what this Crazy White Boys up to.

G-Nite y'all!!!

Mike posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Lake Lewisville 2011 Night 1

As usual I got a late start. Finally get home from the old fire station after a few necessary stops and start loading things up. The plan was to leave by about 4:30 to get to Moms in Ft Worth at a decent rime and unload and visit.

Fast forward to 7:30 and off we go, "Black Betty" with "Red Ruby" in tow and Halo and I buckled in tight for our journey west. I was a little nervous about the road conditions ahead but had been getting reports that the roads in the DFW didn't really ever get that dangerous.

The trip flew by as Haleigh Bug was out cold within and hour and I pretty much spent the whole trip after that on the phone with my favorite Legend Rep Cindy. With all the excitement we have planned over the next 6 months (i.e. Bassmaster Classic, Red River Big Bass Extravaganza, Bass Life Banquet) it's easy to do.

Finally touched down in Rhome, Tx around 11:30 and fortunately baby girl remained asleep or else OMG it would have been a LONG night. Unpacked got everything settled in and went to work on a little map study.

I'll be honest with ya, I was a little discombobulated about where I should initially start, but after looking over my good old handy dandy iPhone Navionics app I feel much better. Now that's assuming it's accurate. It usually is but there can be some slight differences from the actual contours from time to time like , oh let's say a 2 ft hump that's actually a 60 ft valley on Amistad.

After 86 waypoints dropped on just 1/6th of the lake, 1% battery life on my phone and discovering that this should be more than enough to keep me busy for a while tomorrow I'm off to bed. As soon as any light peaks through the window Lil Bit will be coming at me with her famous "GET UP DAEEEEE!"

For those who really give a darnI'll try to post notes from day to day just to kind of give you an idea of what a day in my life can be like. These next 18 days are gonna be quite exciting. Well for me anyway. I only hope that it will all end with the same result as my last fishing expedition in Texas. Fingers crossed.....

Peace out...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's a "New Year"!!! Will it be a "Happy" one?

So far this off season has been crazy to say the least. A few new doors have opened and some old ones have closed. I have made every attempt to take full advantage of each and every opportunity even though I have been somewhat distracted with a few unexpected surprises. None the less the show must go on and like the old Alabama song says "you can't keep a good man down"!

I feel extremely fortunate and blessed knowing that going into this next season I have a little extra help from some new sponsors such as Legend Boats, Humminbird, Minn Kota, and Mercury Outboards. After the issues I had last season I can at least go into the 2011 not having to worry about a lack of warranty or being handicapped by outdated or antique equipment. I now have without a doubt some of the best equipment money can buy. I mean, anything can happen but with that piece of mind and a little momentum and confidence from Lake Texoma I have never felt more prepared for the adventure ahead of me in 2011.

"THE CLASSIC"... That's what 2011 will be all about. Not only Is it the "Super Bowl" of the Bass world but how sick would it be to qualify for it in my back yard? I mean dude, I can be on the Red River in less than 15 minutes! That's like the Cowboys making it to the Super Bowl in Cowboy Stadium, which as proven this year is apparently impossible. Maybe that wasn't a good choice of comparison.

Who knows what 2011 has in store. The only thing I do know for sure is that it's a new year and I'm extremely blessed to be in a much better position with much better equipment than I had a year ago today. I think it's safe to say I probably won't change my style. More than likely I will live and die by my "go big or go home" or "swing for the fence" mentality as it seems that it's worked to this point! Stay tuned!!!!

I'm ready. February 24th can't get here soon enough!

Mike posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Shreveport,United States