Thursday, May 23, 2024

Big Bass Lessons From An Offshore Whiz


Big Bass Lessons From An Offshore Whiz


Western Bass Pro Brent Ehrler ‘Messes With Texas’ — Wins Toyota Texas Big Bass Championship

EUFAULA, AL (May 29, 2015) – Redlands, California-based Humminbird pro Brent Ehrler thrives on fishing deep – beautifully demonstrated on the proving grounds of the recent Toyota Texas Big Bass Challenge on Texas’ famed Lake Fork.

The win typifies how offshore know-how – Ehrler’s dangerous blend of intuition, fishing electronics know-how and full fathom five experience – can manifest big weights and payout. Not only did Ehrler win the tournament, he captured the Tundra Big Bass of the tournament, a 10-11 stud, earning him a $35,000 Toyota Tundra, in addition to first place winnings.

“Growing up fishing bass in California teaches you a lot about clear- and deep-water fish. We’re typically fishing offshore in 20 to 30 feet instead of 5. Sure, we have some shallow water stuff, too, which makes West Coast anglers versatile. But me? I’m most comfortable in clear, deep water, especially with finesse tactics.”

But Ehrler says the deep-water situation he encountered on Lake Fork had little in common with his West Coast waters. For starters, his offshore program involved looking for high spots: humps, points, and the ends of long, extended points.

“When the bass finish the spawn on Fork they move out onto long, extending points near deeper water where there’s food: shad, bar fish, gizzard shad. But not just any long, extending point. You couldn’t just scratch one or two off every point. You might have to try 50 points, then one point would hold 50 fish!”

Utilizing the Depth Highlight feature on the LakeMaster chart view of his Humminbird ONIX 10ci SI, Ehrler found his best fish in the 18 – 25 foot zone. “I’d zoom out my map, run down the lake and pull up on what I thought looked good. LakeMaster made dialing into the right areas incredibly fast.”

He continues: “I’ve been a fan of LakeMaster mapping since the start. What I see via LakeMaster is better than anything out there. Plus, I can highlight what I want to highlight and make the map do what I want it to do, especially for offshore fishing. You can find fish faster by running to those colors.”

Ehrler credits the Humminbird ONIX for helping him take his game to the next level.  “Overall, the ONIX is better and more clear than anything I’ve ever used. The 2D sonar has the best picture and clarity I’ve ever seen.”

He adds that the latest 2.300 software update has taken performance through the roof, including the GPS, which he says is  “super clear and very true.”

“I really relied on the GPS during the TTBBC. I had to stay true on my spots. I would judge my distances with casting rings on 1199, but then the boat would blow a bit, yet I knew exactly where I was by watching my trail on my ONIX’s LakeMaster map. I knew exactly where I needed to cast.”

Those familiar with Ehrler know that Humminbird 2D sonar and Down Imaging are integral to his “video gaming” techniques for vertical-fishing deep-water structure and cover. He footnotes this technique when talking about the new ONIX transducer, which has dedicated crystals for Down Imaging, Side Imaging and 2D sonar.

“The Down Imaging on the ONIX is perfect. Humminbird did exactly what they needed to do. We now have a true Down Image and Side Image. On Lake Fork I could idle through the trees and see the schools of the crappies plain as day. If I was a crappie fisherman, it would be ugly. Seriously, if I lost everything, I would never go hungry on a lake with crappies. I can hardly wait for a tournament where there’s deep-water drop-shotting. It’s going to get real.”


Recounting the TTBBC, Ehrler says the Memorial Day win exceeded all personal expectations.

“Last day of the tournament I had one specific spot that I was catching fish on and I told myself that I’d fish there all day and hit one more spot later in the day. When the first spot went stagnant I ran down the lake and eased in real slow to my second spot. Then my line jumped and I set the hook on that little swimbait. It was a giant! 10-11! I knew I needed to catch a giant fish or two bigger fish to get over 30 pounds for a shot at the win. Just proves that any cast on Lake Fork can yield a fish big enough to win a Tundra! I went from 23 pounds to 29 pounds in one cast … pretty amazing!”

Ehrler says what’s even more amazing is what happened right after he boated the tournament’s biggest fish.

“Right after I got that fish in the boat, I slid off the spot a little bit and quickly reeled in my swimbait, then glanced at my ONIX. My jaw kind of dropped when I saw two big marks swimming back down to the bottom. Based on that behavior, I knew right then and that they didn’t want to bite but could turn on later. So I ran and fished another spot for 20 minutes, came back, and on my third cast I caught a 6 and got rid of my last 3 pounder. That wouldn’t have happened without my ONIX.”

Although Ehrler had experience and technological know-how on his side, he’s quick to point out the serendipity of his win.

“Everything just came together. I made the right decisions, but the way it came together, it’s not something you can do everywhere. Pretty difficult to duplicate. I’m very thankful.”


He adds: “I caught a glimpse of Keith Combs’ TTBBC ring before the event and thought, wow, that would be cool, but never thought it was something I’d win. It’s like being a Super Bowl champ. I’m incredibly humbled.”

Ehrler’s advice for anglers looking to sharpen their offshore game?

Electronics: “Humminbird sonar is crucial … and get a LakeMaster map card. If you want to find and catch fish deep, you need the tools to see what’s down there. I run split-screen 2D and mapping from the bow on an ONIX 10ci SI and 1199 SI with my transducers set to 200kHz. The factory settings are right about where they need to be. I don’t do anything radical; pretty much turn it on and go.”

Deep-Diving Cranks: “Get out your deep-divers. My favorite is the Lucky Craft 3.5XD, which dives 18-20 feet. I use it to fire up schools into biting. I like standard forage colors and throw it on 12-lb. Sunline FC Sniper Fluoro.”

Swimbaits: “Deep fish eat baitfish, so add swimbaits to the list. I take a ¾-ounce BOSS jighead and thread on a 5- or 6-inch Basstrix or Yamamoto saltwater swimbait – I don’t use the crazy big swimbaits. Then fish on a slow roll.”

Pigskin: “The football jig is your friend. I always have a rod tied with a ¾-ounce BOSS green pumpkin football jig with a 5-inch green pumpkin Yamamoto Double Grub.”

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