pay attention to luRe signals
Missouri pro Brian Snowden loves to crank for bass during winter, and he caught an impressive limit of large- mouth on a crayfish-colored Storm Wiggle Wart when we hooked up to do an article last December. But it wasn’t his ability to elicit reaction strikes from sluggish fish in cold water that impressed me most. Rather, it was the way he picked up subtle signals from his crankbait that told him exactly how deep the bass where holding. Minutes after we launched his boat, Snowden cranked up two largemouth in the 5-pound class off a secondary point in a tributary arm. But when he moved to another nearby secondary point, he found it loaded with gelatinous algae that he referred to as “gorilla snot.” Every time he cast the Wart to the side or end of the structure, it would come back with its bill and hooks clogged with the slimy stuff. Instead of merely cussing the annoying grass or moving to a cleaner point, Snowden used the vegeta- tion on the lure as input to modify his pattern. “It’s pretty obvious that the bass on the first point were feeding on crayfish,” he said, “and I know from fishing similar lakes in winter that crayfish don’t like to crawl around in gorilla snot.” So the pro re- positioned his boat into progressively deeper water while making exploratory casts to the point with the crankbait. The deeper the lure probed, the less gorilla snot came back on the plug’s hooks. Once the lure came back clean, Brian knew the grass was growing down to about 8 feet on the point, so he backed his boat into 16 feet of water and concentrated on cranking the 8-foot zone. Sure enough, the bass were stacked up on the end of the point right where the slimy grass stopped growing. The moral of the story? “Pay attention to what your lure is telling you!”
Bass do not live by shad and crayfish alone – they love to chomp a bluegill in late strong. Here, South Dakota pro Jami Fralick gets ready to tap into the bream bite by tying on a big Barry’s Bluegill prop bait.
go natuRal no MatteR What
Mississippi pro Cliff Pace is a stickler for natural-looking pre- sentations. “Day in and day out, you’re better off fishing lures that closely resemble living prey, regardless of the water conditions.” That advice is easy to swallow when fishing gin-clear to slightly stained water, but personally, I’m prone to tying on a bright-colored crankbait and dipping my jig trailer in chartreuse dye when I’m fishing a murky lake. After all, if the water clarity is such that I’m having trouble seeing a drab-looking green pumpkin jig or craw- colored crank, how the heck can I expect a bass to home in on it? Still, Pace proved his point in spades one November day in the aftermath of a bone-chilling cold front. Although visibility in the tan- nic-stained lake we were fishing was less than three inches, he in- sisted on using V & M football jigs and trailers in drab, muted colors. Pace would cast the lifelike jigs to main lake points, allow them to settle to the bottom, then nudge them slowly along the structures, using his reel handle more than his rod tip to crawl the craw mim- ics across the bottom at a painstakingly slow speed. “How are the fish ever gonna find that somber-looking jig in this muddy water?” I wondered to myself. I stopped wondering just in time to photograph Pace slamming back his rod and boating a fat 7-2 largemouth. He later moved uplake, where the water from an inflowing creek had
turn t h e shallows chocolate brown, and continued to catch quality fish on the sober-look- ing craw mimics. “Like most anglers, I’ve caught a tons of bass on chartreuse and other bright colors, but when conditions are really tough as they are today, it’s always best to go natural, especially for big fish,” Cliff reasoned. “Although you may have trouble believing that a bass can home in on a brown or green pumpkin bait in low-visibility water, remember that the bass is an efficient predator possess- ing the sensory capabilities to detect anything that moves in its environment.” bwU
Look for more installments of “Lessons Learned” in future issues of BassWest USA.