5 pro anglers (reluctantly) reveal their top-secret tactics for bass, lakers, muskies and walleye


Competitive angler Pete Carnier deadsticks a Spro E Pop 80 (below) for largemouth bass


TARGET: Largemouth bass

TACTIC: Deadstick a popper

Southern Ontario’s Pete Garnier is renowned for catching ghost-like largemouth bass, enticing them to appear from out of nowhere to hit topwaters lying dead still at the back of lily pad beds. But more recently, he’s taken to working his dead-sticking magic out on the main body of water. Specifically, he looks for shallow milfoil—two to four feet deep—even in the fall when the water temperature dips into the 5°C range.

He’s also particular about the type of topwater he ties on. “It has to be a popper,” says Garnier, who was a member of Team Canada at the Black Bass World Championships in Portugal last year. “For some reason, walking baits are the wrong profile or just don’t sit right on the water. The deal is that you throw it out and wait for a fish to eat it. You don’t call them to it. You don’t do anything. And it is really hard to do.”


When he showed the tactic to a fishing friend and caught nine fish on nine casts, Garnier says, it blew his friend’s mind. “I mean, I was really whacking them, but I didn’t want to show off. I wanted him to catch them, but he couldn’t. He kept twitching it. I was thinking, Dude, stop moving your lure.

Spro E Pop 80 in Clear Gill colour

Every time you move the popper, Garnier explains, you have to start waiting all over again because you spook the fish. When he eventually convinced his friend to keep the lure still, his success rate turned around “This is no word of a lie—we went 21 for 21 on double-headers. That’s how good it is. But do it wrong and you won’t catch a fish.”

When I asked Garnier to also reveal his favourite poppers, he just chuckled and said there’s only one—a Spro E Pop 80 in the Clear Gill pattern. And how long should you actually expect to wait for a bite? The answer might surprise you.


“My tournament partner, Rob Lafleur, holds the record,” says Garnier, pointing to the time he didn’t move his bait for six minutes before his patience was rewarded. And that reward? A six-pound 15-ounce largemouth that won the tournament’s big-fish prize.

“Largemouth are just so conditioned to seeing things thrown at them that then get pulled away quickly,” Garnier says. “Most anglers can’t wait a couple of minutes, but that’s the time it takes a fish to go 50 feet through the jungle. The waiting is excruciating, but on a good day you’ll catch 80 to 100 fish with your eyes closed. It is amazing.”