Did the bass change? Yes, of course they did. Are they gone? No “But things change every year”, structure moves, creek channels change and the bait moves along with other things. The fish are still there but they may have gone deeper, down the back or if the structures gone they may be suspending most of the time. Sometimes you need to step back and think, basic bass fishing.
Whether you’re new to the sport or an old pro, there will be a time when you need to just go back to the basics. Forget those old spots where you always caught um. One of the most important thing to do when bass fishing is to have a plan and base that plan on seasonal patterns. One example would be early spring the fish are getting ready for the spawn. We know the fish spawn in the coves and they eat crawdads so we start out fishing a Brown Pepper 1/2oz football jig on the points leading into coves. After fishing this pattern for a few hours you will earn it’s either working or it’s not then you can alter your plan. The example is a little over simplified but is meant to show you how a plan can save you a lot of time and really help establish a pattern. The same planning applies for the Delta but in the Delta you have to figure in the tides. Remember water direction and water height are key. Now that you have you basic plan insure you have the right equipment. The right equipment will mean more bite and more fish in the boat. We’ll start at the hook and move back. I have exclusively switched to EWG Hooks (extra wide gap) for the simple fact that you will land more fish. The extra wide gap hook allows for a Texpose style rather than Texas. (Texpose is where you push the hook completely through the worm and skin hook the point on the hook) With the EWG hooks there are two different styles one is the finesse light wire style (Eagle Claw Feather Light Series) designed for finesse fishing and when you need good hook penetration without exerting much pressure. The other style is a heavy wire style (Eagle Claw Pro Series) this hook is designed with a heavy wire and requires more pressure for hook penetration but is not likely to bend. The Pro-Series hook is recommend for flipping and pitching, Senkos, flukes and weightless worms, The heavy wire hook is also heavier “go figure” witch allows for faster sinking of Senkos, Flukes and Weightless worms. One cool trick to use when you want a slightly faster fall on weightless baits is to use a small weight call a Bull Shot, it’s a split shot shaped like a bullet weight and works awesome on Flukes. Next is the line. Do you know what line you use and why you use it? You should! For most applications except Froggin I use monofilament. My preferred line is
McCoy 100% Fluorocarbon because of these reasons: high abrasion resistance, low stretch, great knot strength, sensitivity and it still casts great. Fluorocarbon line is the choice for reaction baits and for flippin, pitchin and Senko’s. For fishing Frogs McCoy braided line 65lb is a must, McCoy braided line has near zero stretch and when that frog is 60 ft into a weed mat you need all the strength that line has to get it and the fish out. The fishing rod is one of the most important tools to bass fishing, the right rod will help you cast accurately and land more fish. Do your self a favor and purchase a good quality rod. I’ve found that I can cover all fishing techniques with four different rods. Spinning rod for finesse fishing (drop shot, split shot and dart heading) medium action seven foot with light but fast tip. Flipping stick seven and one half foot heavy action (backbone) with a medium tip, remember the tip is what enables you to pitch, too heavy of a tip and you up in tulles and making big splash. For spinnerbaits, buzz baits, senkos, lake jigs and heavy Carolina rigs a seven medium heavy rod with a medium tip does the trick, the tip should be flexible enough to make a accurate casts and have enough back bone for a good hook set. The last rod in the arsenal is for small cranks like the Speed Trap 1/8oz or 1/4oz, top water poppers, shaken worms and light Carolina rigs. This is a medium action with a light tip seven-foot rod. . A seven foot take a little getting use to but one in tune you’ll never go back to a smaller rod. A longer rod gives you better hook sets, longer casts and is easier to control the fish. A good quality reel with a sooth drag is a must a 7:3 to 1 gear ratio is the most versatile for most all techniques. With all the right equipment your almost half way there now all you need is baits, fish and some skill. As far the skill part it’s advantageous to practice at home. With some practice you should be able to pitch into a coffee can at 20-30 feet and cast with in 6 inches of your target. This may sound somewhat hard but you can figure on a good day the strike zone will be 12 inches, so when you cast 13 inches from your target you won’t get bit. Remember those lazy days where you casted close to target but not that close say a foot or two and not catching any fish. Try this stop turn around make a good cast past you target and retrieving your bait slowly through the strike zone. The results will amaze you. When pitching and flipping insure your bait falls vertical and doesn’t fall away from the target on the drop. Short accurate casts are the most effective, long casts may cover more water but water is only water if not in the strike zone. Don’t cast to the same sport as your partner cast at least a foot or two away or the only thing you will accomplish is to spook the fish. Fish your confidence baits for the time of year and the body of water, and then stick with those baits. There are days when I set out my six rods and never change bait all day except for color because I know it tough and I just need to grind it out with my confidence baits. Listen to the fish and adjust accordingly. Over the summer I found that when throwing my Chartreuse Persuader buzz bait on a very high tide the fish missed the bait, I knew the fish where there because I could see them but couldn’t hook them. So changing presentations to a Luhr-Jensen Fire Tiger PJ Pop and a slow retrieve I then hooked almost every fish. There are times when a fish will hit your bait but not get hooked this means your in the ball park but not quite there try changing colors. Bass fishing is a thinking mans game, you should be attempting to solve the puzzle you entire day even though the pieces change.
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Mark Lassagne free lance writer, pro bass angler and the publisher of Bass Angler Magazine