Time to Think
by Bruce Callis Jr
It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times, and it is the time of frustration! The spawn can be all of it, and more. When sight fishing, we can see them up on bed, or right around it. We can fish a bed all day just trying to make them eat our bait. And we can leave, never having made them do more than just look at it. But the rewards can be that bass of a lifetime.
But once the actual spawn has ended, the big females usually pull back off the bed, leaving the male to guard the eggs and the emerging fry. They are usually very aggressive, fighting off the danger pressed by bluegill and other predators. And if we put our bait in just the right spot, we can catch him. But we really want those big females.
Now is the time to think active fishing and where we need to start looking for the bass, those females that have pulled off the bed. They have spent a lot of energy and need to replenish it. And by feeding up is the only way it can happen.
May is the time to start thinking about where you want to fish. And that breaks down to 3 basic choices. Do you want to fish on top of the water, the bottom itself, or in the middle. All 3 can produce big bass, and a lot of times it’s all about what we enjoy!
For me, it is time to start pulling out those topwater bait. There is just something about a topwater explosion that excites me to no end. And I break them down to 3 basic groups and their use.
The lily pads are busting the surface and the bass are chasing baitfish into them. Plus there is plenty of other food available to them in the pads. But it also requires a different style of bait. You don’t want to throw treble hooks into the pads, as you will be fighting them all day. Here is where the frog excels. When it is sparsely spread pads, you can go with a popping frog, like the SPRO Popping Frog. You can pause it and pop it to draw the bass from a distance. If it is thicker, with small little openings, I go with the SPRO Bronzeye Frog. I like the 65 size frog most of the time, but there are times the 60 will get more bites. And never overlook the Bronzeye 90, it looks big, but not as big as some of the frogs swimming across and in the pads. It will work over and through the pads and the bass will bust up through the pads or in the openings and attack it. I like to use 65 pound Seaguar Smackdown Stealth Gray Braid on a 7’ to 7’4” medium heavy rod to fight them out of the pads. I prefer a 7.0:1 gear ration so that I have enough power to pull them out, but enough pick-up so that I can reel the across the pads once I get them up.
Once you move out of the pads, the edges of the pads are also a great place to fish. Also over laydowns and around them. Here you are trying to call them up or out of the cover. While a Bronzeye Frog will work, here is where the Bronzeye Pop, the E-POP 80, and Fat Pappa Walker 130 all shine. These will all draw them up and out, but each has a special time and place.
The Brozeye Pop shines around the edges and in light cover. With the standard Gamakatsu frog hooks, you can rest assured when throwing it in pads and in down trees, popping it where others dare not go. There are 4 sizes to chose from, the 40, 50, 60, and 70. I prefer to stay with the Smackdown braid on them, but I can downsize it to either 30 or 40 pound test. I still use a 7 foot medium heavy rod and a 7.0:1 reel to get them out fast. For the lighter 40, I will switch to a spinning rod, but stick to a medium heavy rod and 30 pound Smackdown.
For submerged laydowns, flats and points, here is where I prefer the E Pop 80 and the Fat Pappa Walker 130. These baits will draw fish from down deep or further away. I like to rig it on a 7 foot to 7’4’ medium heavy rod and use 30-40 pound Smackdown with a 2 foot leader of monofilament. The leader helps keep the line from getting hung up in the hooks as you pop it or walk it.
Floating to Subsurface
There are two other baits that I like to use on the edges of cover, around submerged laydowns, and on points and flats. They are the SPRO Zero Minnow 130 and the SPRO BBZ-1 Rat. They can be worked on the surface or reeled and worked as a wake bait. Both can be worked on braid, and because of the strikes, it is a great decision to make.
The buzzbait is one of those baits that works just about anywhere also, except for the thick heavy cover. There are many designs to choice from also. Single blades, dual blades, with a clacker, with a skirt, or with a soft plastic frog or other bait. They can be fished on monofilament, but braid is my preferred choice.
Topwater is by far the most exciting of all ways to fish. You get to see and hear the explosion, but you have to be careful. With so many, setting the hook can be the most difficult. With treble hooks, you know they are hooked. But with frogs, you need to wait to feel them before setting the hook. One tip I was always taught was to reel down and count to 3 before attempting to set the hook. Usually you will feel them by then, and it’s time to drive the hook home and prepare for the fight. Now it’s time to be throwing all of them. Get out there and have fun! Let’s see them monsters!