Archive for Bass Fishing Techniques

May
07

Spawning Largemouth Bass!

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As I have mentioned in earlier blog posts my fascination with spawning fish began when I was a young boy watching the behavior of Bass and Sunfish which are the easiest bedding fish to find and watch.

Later in my early teen’s I was still observing spawning fish on their beds and it was my favorite time to fish, I had a couple of lakes that I would fish from rock cliffs, I could sneak into my spot way above the bedding fish and sight cast to the beds.
One time I witnessed a male largemouth Bass repeatedly taking a Painted turtle in it’s mouth and spitting it out several feet from the nest, I realized that the turtle was trying to eat the bass eggs.

I tossed a spinnerbait to the bed and the bass grabbed it instantly, I couldn’t feel anything, I lifted the rod to set the hook only because I could see that the bass had in-hailed my offering but the spinnerbait came right back out of it’s mouth and I never felt a thing! I wouldn’t have believed it, if I hadn’t witnessed it myself.

I was amazed, I was very in-tune to the feel of a bass hitting each type of lure I fished with especially rubber worms.

But a bass swallowing my lure and me setting the hook on nothing and feeling nothing even though I could see my lure in it’s mouth was an awesome learning experience, I didn’t realize it all then, I still learn from it today!
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In the last few years I have seen lures simulating turtles and It brings me back to the day I saw the turtle and bass going at it.
Although I haven’t thrown a turtle bait, It’s safe to assume it would make a great lure to attract bedding fish.

I’m not going to go into all the obvious info that you can find in any generic article about bass spawning, at least not in this post but I would like to touch on little known facts about the spawning habits of the Largemouth Bass with no particular order just as they come to mind.

First was my observation above, a big bass can be holding your junk in it’s mouth and you have no clue as it spits it back out of its nesting area.

Bass will spawn in deeper water than the normal 3-6 foot depths especially in clear lakes. I have seen bass on beds in 15 feet of water.

The male is ready to spawn 1 year after it’s first birthday and should be about 10 inches in length at that time.

The male builds the nest first then waits for a female partner.

A male bass is capable of spawning with more than one female.
The mortality rate of male bass is high during the spawn because they build then defend the nest for 2 weeks after the spawn when the fry can leave the nest on their own, they do not feed during this time so they can be left very weak after the spawn.
Young female bass 2-4 years old have way less fear than a large experienced female, they will be very predictable and not as cautious as Mama bass about the location they chose for spawning.

A female Bass could be so big that there is not a dominant male large enough or excuse my expression but with the balls to mate with her.

Individual bass spawn at different times during the spawning season, they don’t all start on the same day. There can be weeks in between.

The spawning period of the Largemouth Bass is regulated much by moon phases and not just water temperature.

A female bass can chose not to spawn at all! Many reasons could influence this,
not enough dominant males.
To crowded with spawning beds, a bass want’s it’s privacy and likes to be about 30 feet from other active bedding bass. Too much fishing pressure can also have an effect on when or if big Mama bass spawns at all.

If you catch a big female with eggs in her well after the spawn, those are not next years eggs, she has only partially spawned or chosen not to spawn at all, she will then try to absorb her own eggs.

The actual spawn, “when the female releases her eggs and the male fertilizes them” can take from 1 to several hours but happens in 1 day.

The weakend female returns to her pre-spawn locations on cover in deeper water, these ares are now known as post spawn spots and will become the best area to fish as the female regains her composure.

The boss man stays and plays Mr. Mom for a couple of weeks until it’s offspring is ready to venture off on their own.

How do I know all this stuff? Years of hands on fishing, reading and retaining fishing info like a sponge, in school I was the kid studying the Field and Stream magazine carefully hidden in my math folder, heck you don’t have to know algebra to count fish!~

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Apr
17

Pre spawn Bass tactics

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At BlackOps Fishing our prime goal is to teach anglers that there are fish to be caught all year round.
The 3rd Saturday in April is the traditional “opening day” of fishing season but that applies to trout stocked lakes ponds and streams and even some stocked trout waters known as TMA’s, Trout Management Areas, are open year round on a catch and release basis but other than Trout stocked waters most fishing in CT is open year round.

This year I already have well over 60 fishing trips and “opening day” is still a week away. My point here is many people think you start fishing on opening day and the truth is you never have to stop fishing! I get asked ” Hey Al, you ready for opening day”. And receive a look of shock when I reply that I’m already fishing!

As soon as the ice is too thin to support my weight, I switch to open water fishing,
this year we have been targeting Bass, both Large and Smallmouth with great success!

Water tempetures are usually around 39 degrees soon after ice out and bass are still in their winter modes at this time I find vertical jigging with a Blade Bait likre the
Heddon Sonar Flash pictured below, a great way to catch schooling bass.

 

Bass will still be lethargic but can be caught in good numbers by marking schools and vertical jigging with Blade Baits.

 

As soon as the water temperateness rise to the low 40’s Bass are starting to think about spawning and are beginning to go into their pre spawn modes, the smallmouth Bass action picks up first as they like to spawn after the water hits the 58 degree mark, while Largemouth Bass prefer water temps of 62 degree’s before they start to get busy.

As the water warms to the low 40’s my lure of choice is a jig tipped with a soft plastic offering. My favorite is a black and blue football jig with a black plastic creature and that’s what I would start fishing with for 15 minutes or so, if there are no takers then I play with color and size until I find a jig that works.

Big pre spawn bass can be caught on jigs worked very slowly in areas where deeper waters transition to spawning waters which are normally 3-6 feet deep and not usually more that 15 feet from shore, Bass will lurk in these deeper areas and begin to feed more heavily as they enter their Pre Spawn patterns.

Bass instinctively know they need to fatten up because they won’t be actively feeding during the spawn. That’s what makes pre spawn Bass fishing one of the best times to catch Bass!

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The Hitman shows off a Big Pre Spawn Bass that fell for a slow rolled Mepps inline spinner, water temp was 51.4 she was in 3 feet of water.

When the water temp hits 47 degrees I add Spinner baits, lipless cranks and inline spinners to the arsenal.
These lures will produce very well during the pre spawn period and allow you to cover more water, then the Blade baits and jigs.

I work these lures very slow at fist, slow rolling the spinner bait or my favorite a big Pike size Mepps inline spinner, as temps increase and Pre spawn bass become more aggressive, I will speed up my retrieves.

50 degrees!!! Is when pre spawn bass become quite active, venturing from deep to shallow, scoping out their spawning areas and feeding much more aggressively, this is a great time to hook up with a Lunker!

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Aug
24

Chatterbait Bass fishing

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The Chatterbait is one of the countries top selling Bass baits, It was invented around 2003 and  in it’s early days it could be found on Ebay for 50 bucks a pop until it hit the store shelves in 2005,  a Bass angler named Bryan Thrift got hold of these early baits and started winning some major tournaments He caught most of his fish with a ChatterBait. Other anglers got a look at what he was using and the Chatterbait craze began.

a selection of chatterbaits

A selection of Z-Man Chatterbaits

What makes a Chatterbait such a great Bass catching lure? Well first of all it’s new! I’ve been fishing long enough to see this happen with several lures, Bass are all over them at first and once they become educated to that bait the fishing slows a bit, this could take years but it does happen, find a lake where that bait has not been introduced and you may have a very successful Bass fishing trip as a result!

Some anglers call the Chatterbait the “new Spinnerbait”  It actually  is simular to a Spinnerbait, they are both essentially jigs, the spinnerbait a jig on a wire with various blades attached and  the ChatterBait a jig with a metal lip blade, designed to rattle and make the chatter sound.

They both wear skirts and they are both very versatile lures. They each have a place in my tackle bag but the Chatterbait is the one we are talking about in this article and the bait I have been experimenting with lately.

Hitman displays a nice river Smallmouth Bass

Chatterbaits are easy to use Bass catching lures

The Chatterbait is a fun lure to fish with you can fish it very slow or quite fast, when you reel in you will feel the chattering of the blade and you will instantly know your bait is swimming properly, if it picks up weeds the chatter action will stop. It’s not weedless but performs surprisingly well in weedy areas.

I caught bass with the Chatterbait right off the bat, I tried various retrieves and caught a few bass, since many strikes come on the initial fall of the bait, I find that making the Chatterbait repeat the dropping motion by lifting and lowering your rod on the retrieve is one method that works well.

You can work a Chatterbait with a super slow retrieve to entice inactive bass , or just cast and retrieve your Chatterbait as you would with a crankbait varying the speed of your retrieve to fish at different depths. Over all the Chatterbait is an easy to use bait, that is extremely effective for large and smallmouth Bass!

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Happy New Year, from BlackOpsfishing.com!

 

While many “scrods” were home sleeping off a hangover, the Hitman and “Famous Mike”, were loading up for their annual New Years day Winter Striped Bass fishing mission.  The absence of ice on our favorite ice fishing locations had us planning for an open water trip on the Thames River in Norwich CT.  for some winter Striped Bass fishing action.

"Famous Mike" catches winter striper

"Famous Mike" caught this Winter Striped Bass on his first cast on New Years Day 2012!

We were also testing the Zodiac’s rod holder tower I just fabricated in hopes of giving us enough space for  winter striper fishing and my electronics an Eagle 350 sonar and a Humminbird 55 flasher.

The Hitman's New inflatable boat fishing rod rack

The Hitman's Zodiac set up for Winter Striped Bass fishing with his new design, inflatable fishing boat "Rocket Launchers"

Upon our arrival the Harbor looked as calm as glass, a few hardcore anglers were already casting from the docks but there was no evidence of Striped Bass activity.

A  quick run around Norwich’s Chealsey Harbor  proved the electronics were running true but very few fish were showing up on the screens, we needed to find a decent school of “line Siders” to provide us some action.

Here is an excerpt from a blog describing the winter Striped Bass fishing in The Thames River from 2007, It seems like numbers have declined in the last few years judging from our experience but it can still be insanely productive.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Where the Bass Are

It’s possible that you’ve been wondering where all the striped bass hang out in winter. The answer is: in the Thames River, near Norwich.
John Torgan, the Narragansett Baykeeper, reprints on his blog an article by a fisherman named Al Anderson, who has been conducting a mark and recapture study of striped bass in the Thames for years. It’s a fascinating article. In it Anderson writes:
It appears that 30 or 40 thousand or more striped bass have congregated here each winter in recent times. In 1999 Bob Sampson, Jr. and I used an underwater video camera to survey an area in the basin at Chelsea Landing. In it was a school of fish 250 yds. long by 15 yds. wide by 10 yds. deep. Sampson calculated that approximately 30,000 fish made up this school. … Furthermore, my research uncovered a Boston newspaper article reporting that following a warm, wet Southeaster that broke up river ice, 20,000 stripers were haul-seined at Chelsea Landing over several days in February, 1729. Tremendous numbers of fish undoubtedly over-wintered here long before colonial times.

Pretty exciting stuff right? Sure gets my blood flowing!

We were debating whether to scope out other spots on the river or perhaps even switching our mission all together to Pike fishing on the Connecticut River, when I spotted some bird action on the Shetucket River side, the Shetucket and Yantic Rivers merge to form the Thames River.

A quick thrust of the Zodiacs 6 hp outboard had us right on the fish!!! Before I could shut off the motor “Famous Mike ” Hollers fish as he fights a feisty  Winter striped Bass to the Zodiac’s side  We each caught our first Stripers of the year on New Years Day 2012!Winter Striped Bass Fishing in Chealsey Harbor.

Then we got some hot coffee  and headed off to the Connecticut River to see if we could scrounge up any Pike action.

 

Happy New Year

 

The Hitman

 

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Oct
11

Catching Big Bass, on Hot Summer Days!

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Salmon River Bass Hits Buzz Bait surface water temp 79*

Bass have to eat more in summer, their appetite is dictated by their metabolism, if you are lucky to find them during a feeding time, they will hit fast moving lures. If they aren’t in the feeding mode, you will have to slow down your approach.
Here is what I use during the dog days of summer.

Buzz baits, spinner baits, frogs      The most fun! and very productive, easy to cover a lot of water, I reach for these first on most days, sometimes you have to repeatedly throw a buzz bait to any area until the bass can’t take it anymore. I find fish in water so shallow you can see them V through the mats.

Pike spotted V'ing through the Matts, fell for a Black Spinner Bait fluttered across the surface!

Worms, punching mats with tungsten weights and plastic baits and drop shoting all work well for me!

Rivers are great in the summer because they run a little cooler, lately I have been fishing the Salmon River estuary in my Sea Eagle Fold Cat with great success, they surface temp was 78, 4 degrees cooler then the Connecticut River. The buzz bait was key! I caught large mouth and small mouth bass and a pike on Sunday all on buzz baits, my first cast was slammed by a Big small mouth that jumped like 3 feet out of the water, I lost that fish and my buzz bait.

Bait fish were jumping every where and I thought if I could make a spinner bait stay near the surface and could get the silver Colorado blades to flutter at the surface it would resemble the bait action, I tossed a black spinner bait and made it flutter slowly on the surface by holding my rod high and popping the tip as I reeled in, a pike followed and right near the boat it was smashed and missed, Doh! No trailer hook, I quickly snapped on a trailer hook and the same pike smashed it at the boat again this time the trailer hook only nailed him.

I go out on the hottest sunny days and do very well, I don’t let the boaters and jet skiers bother me, in fact I will often cast in the wake or the waves created by recreational boaters and catch fish, I think they stir the bait up.

I think it’s a frame of mind! I convinced myself that hot summer days are awesome fishing days and they are.

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Take Alan Fishing! I need to tell another story about dad, I didn’t understand at the time but in later years I did and it shows my dads wisdom and how he helped make sure I went fishing.

Dad and I went to Sears and he bought a nice new 12 foot aluminum boat and a 6 horse Sears motor the boat fit nicely on the roof of our family station wagon and he started taking me fishing more often, it was awesome! I was the youngest child in the family my brother and sister were 13 years my senior.

My sister was married and my brother in law was an avid fisherman and they had there eye’s on the new boat! Of coarse dad would let them use it, that’s the way he was, even our next door neighbor would borrow it from time to time.
Dad would get home from work and ask me where the boat was, I would reply Billy and Herbie went fishing in it, my dad asked if I had wanted to go and found out I did but they would ditch me and take the boat fishing on many occasions. Now that I look back they probably wanted to suck down a few beers and behave in ways that might not be appropriate for a kid to see, so I have now forgiven them and I do have many memories of times that they did allow me to tag along.

But this was not cool with dad , so he devised a plan! One day when I was 10 years old my dad called me over and said, Alan, I’m giving you the boat and motor, I remember it well I was giggling with excitement but I’m only 10,! I thought dad was crazy!

My brother Billy asked my dad if they could take the boat out and he said, “you’ll have to ask Alan I gave the boat to him.” My response, Sure, where are we going!

I didn’t see the big picture back then I just new I owned my very own Boat and motor, I maintained  that set up for many years to come!

To further Illustrate the lack of intelligence that Bass possessed back in the days of 1972, we lived in Saline Michigan and I was 12, our recent move to Michigan was exciting to me because It meant new fish but I remember I was very concerned that there would be no ocean, no clam digging, flounder or blackfish but dad said when we come back to visit my sister and other relatives  I would get to do all that stuff again!
I was sold! and on several occasions we did exactly what dad had said, one time I got to fly unchaperoned with a friend for the summer to my Sisters in RI and we experienced all the pleasures of the ocean.

Back to my example, I used to pedal my bike to a lake called Pleasant Lake it was 12 miles from our house in Saline (I just checked on Google earth, I always wondered). I would go to a small campground and rent a boat, the price was 3.50 for a day and oars anchors and life jackets were a few quarters extra. I had my own boat at home but this was convenient for me to do alone and easily affordable for a kid that did odd jobs and  a 5 dollar a week allowance!

I would shove the boat off from the dock and set up my pole in the back equip with a Creme or the new Mann’s rubber worm, pick up the oars and begin to to troll, I was handy with oars and quiet as I could be as I trolled past the heavy Lilly pads and tree structure that I knew bass liked. Boy, they used to hit! They would come flying out of the water with my worm in their mouth as I dropped the oars and manned the rod and landed bass after bass, by the time I was sixteen and could drive my dads car I was at that lake constantly the car helped me bring more equipment and friends who were not going to pedal that far for fishing. Now I  could set up 2 rods and trolled with oars or sometimes my 6 horse sears motor,
We caught tons of Bass some big some small, many we ate as did most people of that time but some we released to swim another day.
My point here is that we didn’t have electric motors, we were noisy, it couldn’t be helped but did the Bass mind? No, why Cause they were still pretty stupid!
About the same time we found the New Rebel Swimming Lure’s and no matter what we did with them we caught bass! Big bass not to forget the occasional Pike, the Rebels didn’t come in the 30 color patterns and sizes that you need to entice the new educated breed of Bass, they came in silver and Gold a couple of sizes, If I wanted it to sink I added shot, much less stress than trying to figure out what to use in the array of bass lures available today. Don’t get me wrong we had lures, lots of them, some are still being made today. It was just plain easier to catch bass!

 

So do I think there were just lots more Bass back then?

No I really don’t, heck we kept lots of bass to eat, everyone did, we had our share of polluted waters, some are cleaner now then when I was a kid, we didn’t have catch and release or bass management, bass stocking or monitoring, so No, I don’t think we have less bass today, I believe we may have even more bass then we did back in the 70’s, their just smarter.
I pick on the bass here because the educated fish phenomena is most predominant in the bass primarily because the bass is the most sought after game fish in the world and the advent of tournament fishing and high fishing pressure for bass made them smarter and therefor harder and harder to catch. Old methods that always worked for me in the past had to be changed to new different methods to continue to catch bass.

After finishing my junior year in high school my dad hit me with another moving decision, this time I had my parents permission to stay in Michigan with friends and finish high school or move with them back to Connecticut, I chose the move and Came back to CT where I still live and fish today.

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Jul
07

Back in the day when Bass were stupid!

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I was lucky to be born back in the day when Bass were still stupid, you have probably heard this before but do you really believe that Bass have become more educated over the years?
Believe it!

I’ve witnessed this transformation. In my introduction I bloged about the first Bass I caught on a lure, a FlatFish lure cast into a pond by an 8 year old boy, who unknowingly placed his pole in a forked stick and waited for a bass to smash the lure.
Well a bass did smash the lure and a young boy went home with a great feeling of acomplishment.
If you tried this tactic today, you most likely go home empty handed.
 
Another example of stupid bass comes from my introduction to rubber worms. My parents used to take me to a store called Grants an early version of department stores. I would go directly to the toy and fishing isles, while mom or dad shopped, it was in that fishing isle that I discovered rubber worms, 3 or 4 black rubber worms that came in a package made by a company called Creme, I bought a package to use on my next trip.

I was excited as I arrived at the “Resiviour ” thats what we called a small pond that was about a 5 mile bike ride from my house.
I snuck up to my favorite spot, I knew to be sneaky and not to wear bright clothes because I had noticed that fish could see and hear me, this was somthing I discovered on my own, i was fastenated with bedding fish, I loved to find bedding fish and watch them as I fished or tossed bugs and worms for them to eat, thats how i became aware of how fish notice me.

Rubber worms were designed to use whole but I didn’t know that,
I carefully removed a rubber worm from the package and broke off a peice about 2 inches long and threaded it onto the curve of my hook, just like I did with a live night crawler, I adjusted my bobber( most likely a stick tied on to the line) and cast out into the pond. Guess what? I loaded up on Bass and panfish! These worms lacked the modern day softness and impregnated or applied scents that attract bass and fisherman of today, so what made these fish so ready to bite, besides the positive thinking of a little boy?

I can tell you that answer from years of dedication to the sport of bass fishing the answer is Bass were stupid!
 
Now go down to the pond and try this method today and see what you catch, probobly nothing, except a chuckle from any fisherman that see’s you.
 
Bass were stupid!
 
My love for fishing increased, I liked flounder and black fishing best of all, my dad would take me for flounder every Sunday starting  back when I was 4 or 5, mom would be visiting my grandparents, this was when we lived in RI and dad loved to escape the inlaws and take me fishing.
It would bug my dad a little that I would be flipping rocks and looking for crabs and sandworms and not watching my pole but I always seemed to catch the biggest or the most fish.

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