Bass season

Keeping your finger on the pulse of the lake is important, from knowing where in the spring cycle the bass are and what times the solunar tables say they will be to important clues of where to be and when. This hefty smallmouth nailed a small spinner bait during the early-morning feeding pattern with the moon underfoot and the sun just rising.

Bass fishing is only days away, and I’m excited.

You can’t help but marvel at the incredible diversity and balance of God’s creations. What a marvelous gift nature is to us. If you’re observant and thoughtful you begin to comprehend those lessons fishing is intended to teach us about life and the responsibilities it entails. All things exist that our joy may be full if these treasures are treated with the respect and reverence they deserve.

Even small things, like the night before bass fishing, can be as exciting as fishing itself. You must consider the water conditions, temperature and time of year. Balance this against your own observations of where the fish are holding and make your gameplan. A glance at the solunar tables is always a great idea, giving you the best times to fish.

You may have to change your fishing line, sharpen hooks or customize a lure to change its balance and action. This is as fascinating as fishing itself to me. Perhaps a plastic trailer, weighted hook, modified diving lip or other subtle adjustment will give your lure that special action the bass will love that day. There is no better feeling than the thrill of discovering a little secret that drives the fish wild!

A few years back my wife and I determined the best time to be on the water “should be” at daylight or 5 a.m. There is nothing guaranteed in this business, but our experiences during the week showed the fishing tables to be an hour slow so we felt the 6 a.m. suggested would be late. Once you notice a pattern, you have to trust it, even if it means crawling out of that nice warm bed before daylight.

I set the alarm and drifted off into an uneasy sleep where giant bass ignored my presentation, reels fell off rods and drags froze, fishing line cracking like a pistol shots and was only rescued from these nightmares by the alarm clock.

On the ride to the lake the building anticipation of the coming day replaced the sleepy torpor of our early rise quickly building it into a growing excitement.

Soon the gravel crunched in the parking lot, we launched and began our day fishing shallow on a rocky point, planning to work deeper as it lightened. Isolated smallmouth bass had been moving shallow the last couple evenings and perhaps we could intercept a few fish before the brightening day moved them into deeper water.

Because we were targeting smallmouth we began with smaller lures, an eighth to quarter-ounce in bright colors for the dim morning light. Though there are times when the bass can be very selective in the color they prefer, it has been my experience a feeding fish first has to see your lure. Brighter colors help the fish locate your lure quickly in low light conditions. The faster they see the lure and zero in on it the better the odds of a solid hookup.

The light wind was perfect for our intended drift, blowing directly off shore. Our first casts practically landed in the shoreline grass, but the bass weren’t that shallow. Slowly we worked our way deeper, trying to parallel the narrowing point. I fired a long cast in front of us and didn’t turn the reel handle twice before I saw the water swirl and felt a hard hit.

I slammed the hook home and felt a powerful fish jerk back. A second later the water exploded and a beautiful smallmouth cartwheeled out into the swirling misty air. Smallmouth pull like a horse and my heart was in my mouth battling the bass. After another jump and some hard dives Jane slipped the net under a 5-pound smallmouth and I felt like I had won the jackpot. What a thrill!

Jane scored next, a 3-pounder, gold and bronze, fat and sassy. At first we thought this bass was bigger than it actually was, but she was just very strong and stubborn, dashing around and under the boat, slow to tire. Another great fish.

As we neared the point a finger of weeds intercepted the rocks and we both tensed even more, expecting some action here, especially since it was apparent the bass were feeding.

I waited until we were positioned just right and fired a cast to the weedy finger, the spinner hitting the dark waters with a small splash. Instantly, a wake shot to the spot, the water humping up in a big swirl. I was ready and hammered the hooks home.

Before I could yell, “Fish on!” I heard Jane give a sharp little gasp as she too set the hook. The confusion, as we both battled big smallmouth, was incredible; both scrappy fish attempting to tangle our lines as we took turns grabbing the net, then dropping it as the bass jumped or dove under the boat.

Luckily, both fish were well-hooked and finally landed. Jane’s fish was 22 inches and mine was 21. Incredible!

We both laughed out loud; what an experience. Suddenlym, the sun peeked over the hill, glistening on the still waters as we talked excitedly, rejoicing in our good fortune. Then, like a switch the fish turned off; you couldn’t buy a hit.

The bright sun beamed, the birds sang, an osprey circled, the boat moved gently with the living waters. We sat and watched in appreciation, then smiled at one another, together in so many ways.

(Wade Robertson’s email is wadewrites3006@gmail.com.)

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