BassWestUSA - Spring, 2012, Page 77

Ohio pro Charley Hartley caught this bass off its spawning bed in 80-degree water. That’s right, 80-degree water. “Always check shallow water for spawners during the spring/summer transition period, even when the water appears to be too warm for them to be still on bed,” Hartley advised.

high enough to move the fish out of the shallows, Greg opted to switch patterns. He moved to a nearby main lake point and pro- ceeded to probe it with a deep-diving crankbait for several minutes before hanging the lure in a sunken tree limb located on top of the structure. Rather than move onto the point to retrieve his crank- bait, he broke it off. They say bass fishing is a game of decisions, both big and small. What happened next illustrates how a seemingly minor de- cision on Hackney’s part profoundly impacted his success that day. Seconds after busting off the crankbait, he cast a jig to the sub- merged limb and caught an 8 pound, 15 ounce largemouth out of the cover on his first cast! Then a few minutes later, he chunked the jig a few feet beyond the limb and caught a 6-1 bass! The even bigger payoff for the pro (and myself) came later in the form of an eye-popping, double-page magazine photo of Hackney holding up not one, but two big bass. “If I had moved my boat up on top of the point and retrieved that crankbait out of that tree branch, I would have spooked both of those big fish,” Hackney reasoned. “I’m not saying you should bust off every time you hang up, but sometimes it pays not to disturb a choice piece of cover – as it turned out, that was the only stick of wood anywhere on that point. Besides, it was so shallow where I hung up, I didn’t have any problem getting my crankbait back after I’d finished fishing the structure.”

Change With the Fish

Texas pro Jay Yelas showed me how “changing with the fish” can yield a huge payoff. It was a chilly, drizzly morning in late April, and Yelas was on fire, sticking bass after bass on a bubble gum-colored floating worm skipped beneath overhanging shore- line branches. The fish were attacking the hot pink crawler with abandon…until noon, when the skies began to clear. Once the clouds dissipated, the same lure they couldn’t wait to wrap their lips around all morning suddenly lost its appeal.

Missouri pro Brian Snowden “read” his crankbait to determine how deep slimy grass was growing in this flatland reservoir. The bass were concentrated just below the deepest level of the vegetation.

I f you’d had bite after bite on the same lure for four hours straight, it’s reasonable to assume that you’d stay with it all day, figuring that the fish would get back on it shortly…right? But Yelas understood what was happening, and adapted quickly. “The fish I was catching on the worm were immedi- ate pre-spawners,” he explained. “They were holding tight to the bank be- neath overhanging cover, waiting to go on bed, and when the sun popped out, they made a beeline for their nests. The beds were close by, but in shallow pock- ets exposed to the sun.” Jay switched to a tube bait, lizard and creature, and spent the after- noon catching spawn- ing bass, including a 7-pound female. “The hardest thing to do is abandon a pattern that worked great for awhile,” Ye- las said, “but when the fish change, you need to chane with them.”

Spring 2012