How Soon Is Long Enough?
(By “The Bass Coach” – Roger Lee Brown)
I know that the title of this
article can mean a great many things to a lot of different people i.e...
How soon is long enough visiting with your in-laws, or how soon is long
enough being engaged to your honey before the big commitment? Etc… But, what
I am talking about here, is a question that I probably have been asked more
times by either my bass fishing school students, bass charters, emails, and
even some phone calls concerning, “how soon is long enough” spending time
with a certain bait or location when fishing for bass.
I guess the best place to start is
always at the beginning, right? Let’s say that we are going to plan a day
on the water and we want to catch as many bass as time will allow, doesn’t
every angler have these “high hopes?” (-:
There are several factors to
consider before you even hit the water such as:
- Water Temp
- Knowing your Natural Forage
- Daily Conditions
- Size of the Body of Water
- Choosing the Right Baits
- Using the Proper Equipment
- Locating Structure
- Keeping it FUN! Always
The basics listed above are a good
place to start when it comes to putting the “high hopes” plan together.
Let’s start by saying that we want
to fish a body of water as big as the Santee Cooper System located in South
Carolina (which is made up of Lake Marion & Lake Moultrie.) Now, if we have
an impoundment of 186,000 acres of water with this system and just one day
to fish, where do we start and how much time do we spend in one place?
The first thing I would do is to
get a hold of a map of the lake and study it. By looking at a map such as a
Hot Spots Map, or a Topographical Map (the most commonly used among today’s
anglers) these maps will generally show you the contours, depths, points,
and your boat launching areas. By studying this first you can section a
certain spot on the map that looks appealing to you and in the same process
eliminate a good portion of the body of water that you just don’t have the
time to fish in one day.
Secondly, I would study the area on
the map which you sectioned off looking for key areas such as contours,
points, structure, and irregular bottoms. Next, keeping in mind of the
factors listed above I would circle a half dozen or so areas that look good
in the section and start looking for a good working pattern. Here are a few
hints of what to look for during the different seasons:
- In the spring, summer, and
fall, look more in the shallows for warmer water temps, hard packed (or
sandy) bottoms, structure (of any type), and especially vegetation
areas. Just make sure that the key factor to remember is to look for
shallow water close to deep water areas i.e... Points, drops, roadbeds,
- During the winter months, just
look for the opposite in most cases! Deeper water close to areas with
Now, here is a good rule of thumb
when choosing the right baits and equipment. Choose baits that cover top
water, the bottom, and everything in-between, also keeping in mind that the
proper equipment such as rods, reels, and line is just as important as the
Normally, the difference in fishing
cold water areas from the warm water areas is to know the activity levels of
the bass. In cold water the bass tend to get more sluggish and inactive
because their metabolism changes with the water temps. On the other side of
the coin, the warmer the water temp means the more active a bass will be.
Remember that the more active the bass are, they will feed much more often
than say colder water conditions.
Here are some tips on certain baits
that normally work anywhere in the United States of
anywhere you can find a bass habitat.
Hula Poppers, Tournament Frogs, Soft and Hard Jerk Baits, Zara Spooks, and
Torpedo’s. There are many more, but I have been just about everywhere in
and have had success with these certain baits.
In Between Bottom & Surface:
Crank baits, Spinner baits, Soft
and Hard Jerk Baits, Jigging Spoons, and Swim baits.
Jig & Pig Combos, Senko’s Always
Work! Carolina Rigged Baits, My “Mo-Wak” Rigged Baits, Texas Rigged Baits,
and Gitzits (or tube baits.)
Now, between all of these baits
mentioned, I have used these baits under most every condition possible, and
in every season with success.
Now, here’s the question of “How
Long is Soon enough” to put certain bait down and try something else.
Normally when it’s overcast or in low light conditions I would start out in
an area where I’m quite certain that bass are holding in with a top water
pattern. This is because bass won’t be in so tight to structure areas as
much as they would be in a bluebird (or sunny) sky condition. Anyway, I
will start with at least two different patterns with top water baits such as
a Zara Spook or a Stick Bait (hard jerk bait.) I have found over many years
that if a fish will hit top water bait either of these two will do a fine
job. Give yourself at least a good dozen or so casts using each of these
two baits trying different retrieves to see what may trigger a strike. If
you don’t get any action off of top water patterns then try a Crank Bait or
Spinner bait. Again, allow yourselves by using a couple of dozen casts with
each of these two different baits, again using different retrieves (or
techniques.) One nice thing about Spinner bait is that there are many
different ways to use it. I teach my 3-day bass fishing school students at
least (6) six different presentations on this one bait because it is one of
more successful and versatile baits ever made.
If all fails, “Hit the Bottom!”
One thing to consider before I go into bottom fishing is that it is very
important to use the right equipment. I’m mostly talking about fishing rods
in general. An angler has to feel the little ticks, slight pulls, bottom
nicks, and bites with his rod to even know that he has a strike (or a
bite). There are many good rods on the market today and I’m sure that they
are very comparative within price ranges, but I have found that there is
only one rod for me personally; it is Lighter, Stronger, and more Durable
than any rod I have ever used, which is a Kistler “Helium series” Custom
Rod! You can feel every little THING on the bottom with these rods, and
better yet, I don’t even have to use solid line with these rods. I always
use Silver Thread copolymer clear line for all my applications.
When fishing the bottom, you need
to know exactly where and what your bait is doing to be more successful. I
will use at least three different patterns fishing the bottom before I move
on to the next spot. Keep in mind that we covered top water, then the
in-between area, next we go to the bottom with the following patterns. A
rig that I kind of thought up a few years back called the Mo-Wak Rig. This
rig is simply a Mo-Jo rig using a Yamamoto Senko bait wacky rigged with very
little weight above the bait. Secondly I will use a Carolina Rig because if
rigged right, you can cover a lot of areas that you can’t with a
rig. With a Carolina
rig I normally use a soft plastic bait such as a Yamamoto 6” Lizard, or for
that matter, an angler can use many different baits on this rig. Next, I
will work with a flippin’ or pitchin’ bait such as a jig & pig combo or a
crawl by itself, pegged with a weight. Give each one of these patterns
again, about a dozen casts and if all of these presentations don’t trigger a
strike…..MOVE TO THE NEXT SPOT!
If you may be interested in
learning more or just want to go out for a fun day of fishing you can
inquire about my 3-day bass fishing school where I can teach on my lake or
yours, or inquire about my bass charter service on Lake Champlain.
You can reach me at: Phone (518) 597-4240 or Email me at
email@example.com or visit my site at
www.capital.net/~rlbrown . I certainly hope this article helps somebody
overcome some of the frustrations they may have had in the past with this
Until next time, take care & God
The Bass Coach – Roger Lee Brown