Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Pre Spawn Search – Part 1 – By Jason Houchins

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Apr_2011_big_fish
Pre Spawn Search
 There is a change happening and you need to change with the fish. It’s early April and there is still a chill in the air, especially at the butt crack of dawn. Temperatures have been slow to rise this year and the fish don’t know whether to move up, suspend, or both depending on the hour. Bites were hard to come by in practice, you tell yourself it shouldn’t be this hard for April. The water had been in the bushes and with the recent rains it will be in the parking lot in some places. These bass were so much more predictable a month ago, what happened?
If you fish Buggs Island Lake this has happened to you almost every year during this time period. If you continue to fish Buggs Island Lake it will most certainly happen again, maybe this April. This can be the most challenging time on this body of water for bass fishing. I have seen bass on the beds the first week of April and I have seen bass refuse to commit to the shallows in last part of the month. All bass do not do the same things at the same time and that can also throw a wrench into you thinking as well. There are a few key factors here that never seem to line up at the same time causing us fisherman mass confusion. I also think it can totally put these bass in a funk that seems to never end. I don’t have all the answers and I learn a new piece of the puzzle every year. On this lake the puzzle literally changes size and shape each year, or at least that’s my excuse. Here are a few things that seem to work this time of year no matter what the weather conditions, water level, or fish mood.
Location will constantly change with water levels and temperature but don’t confuse yourself more than you have to. I have always heard, “if the water is in the bushes so are the fish”. Experience tells me that is 100% true this time of year, experience also tells me that is 100% not true. What I’m saying is there are fish constantly moving in and out during this time period on this body of water so keep an open mind. When it comes to location I would first let the water levels help you plan your next move. If the water is coming up, move up with it. If the water is coming down, move out with it. I feel like the days are gone when I guy can throw a Carolina rig all day to catch a limit no matter what is going on. I also think of myself gunning down the bank with a blade and loading the boat with ease, those days seem to be done as well. I’m not going to say they will not still happen like that, but I bet they are fewer and farther between.  I think these fish have conditioned to the water fluctuations and changes in forage over the years and this has altered their habits. If you want to stay on top of them you have to alter your habits too and that can be a difficult thing to do.
I have a keep it simple philosophy I always employ while fishing here or anywhere and it will limit your mental break downs on this challenging body of water. The first thing I try to do is chose a bait that I can cover water with, yet appeal to fish that are aggressive or sluggish. Nothing can do this better than a simple super fluke. There seems to be no right or wrong way to work a fluke and it can catch the interest of a bass in a hurry, even the ones with no thought of eating. This is a reaction bait and a feeding bait all in one and that’s what makes it so effective this time of year. I love to throw it on spinning gear with 12 lb. 100% fluorocarbon line with a big 3/0 wide gap hook. I feel like I can skip the bait where it needs to be more often than not with spinning gear. I also feel like the lighter line will get me more bites and better bait action. I want a medium heavy spinning rod with a fast tip for hook sets. People always ask me why I don’t use bigger line or braid with a fluke.  I always tell them in order to catch a fish you have to make them bite, then worry about getting it to the boat. Another advantage of a fluke is you don’t always have to catch a fish for it to be useful, it can locate fish and give you clues as to what’s happening on that day.

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