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Last updated 11/27/2018 at Noon

Larry Johns’ reply to my question regarding the bass bite on Toledo Bend

was more of a confession than a report. “It took me about two minutes at

the most yesterday to snap to the fact that I am no longer as mad at the

fish as I once was!”

“We’ve had enough cold weather to fish a jig the way I want to fish it,

but I saw the ice on the dock and walked right back up to the camp and

cooked pancakes,” said one of the best structure fishermen I ever shared

a boat with.

Larry will be seventy-eight in December and still fishes 180-plus days a

year.He blows those incredible numbers off because he doesn’t count

crappie fishing over brush piles as a real day on the water.

He was the first fishermen that I knew that owned a fish finder. He had

one of those little green Lowrance portable boxes with a transducer

mounted on suction cups and he was fishing structure when the rest of us

didn’t even know it existed!

It took only two or three trips for me to know that I would have to

invest in one of those little green boxes.His depth finder showed him

the schools of shad suspended on the tree lines and catching bass was

simply a matter of lowering a spoon straight over the side.It was magic

and he had no competition.

As depth finders improved so did Larry’s catching and knowledge of the

lake.A big bass at that time was anything over six pounds and the

Leesville native was consistently catching more than his fair share.His

secret was fishing a jig and pork frog trailer on hydrilla breaks.

No one else was fishing jigs and most of us didn’t even know where the

breaks were located.Thanks to Lonnie Stanley, we quickly progressed from

buck tail to living rubber skirts and the pork frog gave way to the

plastic craw worm.We tied one on the first week of November and kept it

tied on until the first week of March.

The jig is no longer considered to be a tool used only for duping bass

when you should be back at the camp eating pancakes and waiting for the

bow rope to thaw out.Thanks to innovative pro anglers that started

flipping and pitching not only shallow structure, but matted hydrilla as

well in the dog days of summer, the jig is a year round

favorite….especially for larger bass.

“Between 1968 and 2001 I caught two bass in the nine pound class,” Larry

shared on a trip last April.“I still fish basically the same techniques

and spots that I have always fished, but I have caught and released

eleven bass over the ten pound mark since then.”

Every one of those bass ate a jig and eight of them were caught in the

month of February.There is no doubt that considering any lure to be only

a seasonable weapon is a huge mistake, but there is little chance of

Johns cutting off his jig over the next three months.

“If I have changed anything about my fishing that has been an obvious

improvement it has been starting later in the day and finishing later,”

added Johns.“I catch far more big fish later than I ever caught the

first hour or so of daylight and I don’t have to deal with frozen fingers.”

That is quite an admission considering the fact that he once fished from

dawn to dusk on every outing regardless of the weather.Most every Club

angler has fished at least one tournament with ice in the guides on his

rod, but Larry has gone much farther than that over the years.

We laugh every time we recall a tournament out of Converse when he drove

to WalMart to buy an electric blanket to wrap around his engine

overnight.The extension cord was frozen as stiff as a joint of pipe the

next morning, but everything worked.Unfortunately, after all of that, we

didn’t weigh in a single fish!

When they finished their pancakes and finally eased out on the water

Monday morning, Larry and his son-in-law caught nine bass from two to

four pounds.“I didn’t catch a single bass on a jig and he caught every

fish on a slow-rolled spinnerbait,” reported Johns, “but I’ll still have

one tied on tomorrow……old habits die hard.”


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