Spring is in the air, it just keeps getting rained on and blown around on the cold Arctic air still holding onto us. Dreams of big bass fill our every thought. We plan an adventure and see that mother nature has other plans. The rain comes in buckets and the rivers become muddy and swollen, overflowing their banks. Even our lakes and ponds suffer with clarity issues.
And with the new year, the fishing shows are back with new episodes. The professional bass fishing leagues are back in swing and we get to see them fishing in places we wish we were at. Watching John Crews fish the St. Johns River and catching an 11 pound bass, both excited me and made me jealous. No, I wasn’t jealous that he caught a monster, I was jealous he was able to get out and fish, period. I am never jealous that someone else catches a big fish. Actually, I love to watch it happen, especially if I am there in person, either netting it or lipping it for them.
Catching that big monster is still alive in me, but I know it can’t happen every time I go. All we can do is prepare for it to happen. On any given cast, that bass of a lifetime could inhale our bait. And I am certain, that on every cast, a monster fish sees the bait go past. It is how do we entice them into biting. What do we need to do to make our bait stand out and them want it.
So many answers to this question, but sometimes it is the simple answer that makes the most sense. We are throwing the right bait, but it is a combination of factors that have the bass holding off attacking it. And they all are angler controlled.
Be patient. This seems so simple, but we want that strike. No matter what we are throwing, we rush through it’s presentation. A jig, we hop and drag it back like it’s a race. A crankbait is reeled back at a high speed. Right now, the bass are still not chasing it like they would in the spring during prespawn. Patience is about working the bait slowly. Sometimes we need to remember to let the bait do it’s job. Let the jig pulse as it sits on the bottom, give the bass time to see it and react. So often by letting it sit, the moment it moves, the bass will attack it.
Slow down and make repeated casts. Bass attack our lures when they are in “THEIR” strike zone. We can cast 5 times up along a laydown and never get bit. But on the 6th cast, we are a foot closer to the laydown and within the strike zone. Then think about what was different about that cast, about that retrieve. Did you make contact with something and cause the bait to change direction? Or did you slow it down? A stop and start retrieve? What was different?
Sometimes it is a color change that we see works, but was it that or did we change something else too? There is nothing like knowing you are doing something that the bass just aren’t liking on that day. You watch your fishing partner slay them on a bait, but you can’t get a bite. And you steal their rod and bait, but still, nothing. What are we doing different?
Remember, changing baits is not always the answer. Look at what we are doing and change that first. Let the bait do it’s job. Give it a chance.