Texan Will Kirkpatrick is a legend of sorts. From fishing bass tournaments in the 1970s to guiding on Lake Rayburn to administering yearly fishing schools, there are few who have accomplished as much as this friendly, helpful angler. He’s caught every freshwater fish there is except golden trout and arctic char. The fact that he’s been on the Rebel Lures Pro Staff for 40 years attests to his skill, knowledge and ability to catch fish.

Kirkpatrick was the first person to catch a 10-pound-plus largemouth bass on the Fat Money Minnow, which he alters by adding a small cork in the bait’s tail-end.

“Doing this makes it rest tail-up on bottom,” he said, “and it looks like it’s feeding on bottom. It’s a killer in the springtime when bass are on the beds.”

He recently had the best fishing day in recent memory on his home lake. While he fishes year-round, late fall and early winter is one of his favorite times to be on the water. This time period congregates both baitfish and bass, and if you know where to look, you can have a banner day. Kirkpatrick knows where to look.

“I found a bunch of shad in a funnel in Tiger Bay,” he said. “There were actually eight or 10 big schools of shad there.”

A funnel area is an area where two points or drop-offs come together to form a narrow deeper creek or river channel. In Kirkpatrick’s situation it was a point that dropped off from 16 feet to a small flat of 24 feet, then fell into deeper water. A point across the creek produced a similar bottom contour.

“You find funnels like this and baitfish may stay there all winter,” he said. “But you’ve got to look. Not every funnel will hold baitfish like this.”

Kirkpatrick got on the water about 9 a.m. that day and located the spot just before 1 p.m. After trying several crankbaits, he found none dived deep enough to get to the fish. Then he tied on the new Bomber Fat Free Shad BD8f, the deepest-diving of the Fat Free family. That bait dives to 19 feet, and the game was on.

He made a cast and caught one, the followed up with another cast and bass.

“Then I put the anchor down.”

His boat positioning was 20 or so yards from the break where the bottom fell from 16 to 24 feet.  Some of his strikes were “mushy” and some popped the bait several times. When that happened, he stopped and twitched the lure like one would work a Heddon Spook, and the fish would strike again.

After two hours the action slowed. He’d caught 40 bass – no big ones, he said, but mostly overs up to 3-pounds. He knew the fish were still there and that a change in tactics could extend his fantastic fishing day. He tied on a ¾-ounce Pigskin Jig with a YUM Money Craw trailer.

“Look at that bait in a swimming pool or in shallow clear water,” he said. “Look at the action those claws produce. It’s unlike anything out there.”

He cast the jig far into the bay, allowed it to sink to the bottom and then applied a slow, steady retrieve. He kept the bait in contact with the bottom or just above it, and the game was on again. When the jig reached the drop-off he’d begin to feel the bottom, then the fish. In many cases the fish simply took the lure and swam quickly off to one side or another, an indication that there was an ample number of fish in the area, much like a chicken that caught a grasshopper will run from the rest of the flock to have the meal to itself.

Kirkpatrick had told his wife he’d be back off the water by 3 o’clock, but like most (all?) of us he didn’t start back until after 4 p.m.

“I left them still biting, too. I quit counting how many I was catching after I changed lures, but I know I doubled my total with the jig and Money Craw. It’s been a long time since I had a day like that one.”

As for the details, Kirkpatrick’s BD8 was in Bama Shad color pattern. On his Creek Craw Pigskin jig he used the mid-sized Money Craw (3 ¾-inch) in Green Pumpkin.