Saturday, June 7, 2014

Summer Techniques: Largemouth Bass, Pickerel, and Rock Bass

Largemouth bass, pickerel and rock bass summer techniques

          Pebbly soil allows relatively sparse vegetation to give you a barren impression of the area flanked by ridges to the north, south, and west. It slightly reminds me of how mountains rise over desert valleys in the western United States. The lake is very deep. How deep exactly, I don’t know. But shallow flats exist to give it better structure than it would have with only drop offs from shorelines.

          Largemouth bass and pickerel fishing good, large rock bass of close to a pound also serve opportunity. In all of my experience, I’ve never known a lake to have so many of these brown-toned members of the sunfish family. I’ve caught one in Round Valley Reservoir, but typically they’re found in streams and rivers. In this lake, they’ll swallow a plastic worm whole if you don’t set the hook in time. Sunfish are present also for panfishing.

          During the warm water season, topwater plugs early and late in the day are especially good for largemouth bass. University research has shown that largemouths are sight advantaged over prey like sunfish when light intensity is changing. Bass like to hug bottom in relatively shallow water around dawn and sunset, looking upward for prey. A topwater lure is most vulnerable in this situation. Pickerel won’t hesitate either.

          Popping plugs like the Pop-R and Plunker, prop plugs like the Torpedo and Dalton Special, surface crawling plugs like the Jitterbug and Crazy Crawler, walking plugs like the Zara Spook and Bug Stick, and weedless soft plastics like the Phatrat and Money Frog are just a list of favorites. Others manufactured in a dazzling array can be effective at one time or another, but these four categories have their special purposes.

          Poppers may be best when surface is calm and calls for a slow, teasing retrieve. Make a cast and let the plug sit until the ripples fade. Then twitch or pop it. Fairly often, the first cast before sunrise is all it takes for the first catch. Bass move as light changes, and if the surface is calm, they charge for the disturbance. Poppers, however, can be effective also on slightly choppy surface with a quick, noisy retrieve, although a prop bait or surface crawler with the metal flanges is more suited to the commotion. Walking plugs retrieved by turns of the rod tip to the right and left make the plug zig-zag like a dog on a chain, sniffing right and left. Something about the crazy action makes bass and pickerel strike savagely sometimes. Since a lake may have some fairly thick weed growth along the shallow edges during summer, a weedless rat or frog can be cast directly onto weeds at the surface and a strike blast a hole right through the mess.

          Some weedlines end where very deep water begins. Soft plastic lures like Senkos and other plastic worms prove especially effective along the drop-offs. Senkos sink fast enough that they don’t need to be weighted to fish as deep as 20 feet. But especially during the day with increased wind, I imagine conventional Texas or Carolina rigs for plastic worms with an inset hook and bullet sinker might work. The difference between the two is that the Texas rig simply allows the sliding bullet sinker to rest against the inset hook. The Carolina rig uses a barrel swivel spaced two feet from the inset hook, so the worm is free to sink slower to bottom after the rod lifts the entire rig high and allows it to fall back. Jigs with plastic twister-tail grubs or synthetic leeches can result in quick hook-ups for rock bass and largemouth bass alike. Since largemouth bass retreat into clear water as deep as 40 feet or so, plumbing this particular secret lake’s depths might be interesting. Plenty of deep water in range of the bank, a boat may yet allow more effective, parallel approaches.

          A canoe or kayak can be wheeled in and launched from one or two spots. Otherwise, lots of bank fishing exists where you can position to cast at differing structures. Some spots difficult to access, careful steps can make casting effective and landing fish possible.

          I think of a surrounding environment remarkably clean, free of litter, and attractive in the desolate way of suggesting desert I mentioned. To reflect on a once busy industrial site bodes well for environmental resilience. Visitors here seem to respect renewal and growth, and release their catch. Sometime in the future a forest may surround the lake and our grandchildren will catch bass and pickerel in a different environment yet.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Color Differences for Largemouth Bass at a Private Pond

Fred arrived and fished before me, catching a lot of bass, one four pounds, another three. This is our annual Scout picnic and opportunity to fish a private pond of 15 acres or so.

I fished with Fred down along the spillway, first with a bright red spinnerbait, then quickly snapping on a Senko-type worm as soon as Fred began getting hits, by changing his white worm to black as shadows had overtaken us. It was the same sort of difference in color triggering strikes I recently wrote about after fishing Round Valley Reservoir.

I lost a bass of about three pounds on my first cast, hooked in about six to eight feet of water. I got a good look at the fish, really good sized, could have been a few ounces more than three. Then we casually caught and released bass for about 20 minutes, until we began to head for the dining area.

There was a fallen tree we accessed by climbing down an embankment and fighting off briars. At first, nothing would hit. We must have covered the range with a dozen casts. Then I caught the largest pumpkinseed of my life, must have weighed a pound. It took the five-inch Senko-type with a size 3/0 inset hook. I switched to a slow worm, a traditional Chompers in watermelon, rigged on an inset. This worked. Fred switched to a watermelon Senko-type and we caught a few more bass, and I caught a pickerel also.

After dinner, we cast topwaters for 15 minutes. I nailed another bass, but that was all.