WAITING CAN BE COSTLY
Last updated 1/7/2020 at Noon
“The weather was just perfect and we messed around too long catching white perch and bass on everything in the tackle box,” reported an annoyed Jason Perry.I don’t know how that could be a bad thing for any fisherman, but Perry was genuinely miffed.
“My Dad and I caught white perch until I just didn’t want to clean another white perch, while my brother and his girlfriend hammered two to three pound bass on spinnerbaits and Texas rigged worms. That alone was killing me, but our last two hours of fishing Sunday morning all but finished me off,” added Perry.
“Kyle had fished shallow all weekend long, but he wanted to show me where he had been catching all of his drop-shot fish before we left.The bass had been about 18 to 23 feet deep on the edge of a deep ledge, but he quickly suspected that the unseasonably warm water had moved them when we didn’t mark a single fish.”
“Kyle switched his finesse rig out for a jig and craw worm, turned around and flipped it up on the ledge we were fishing and immediately pulled off a larger bass than he had caught all weekend long,” said Jason.“Before I could find another jig buried in all of his junk, he slid a beautiful seven-pound bass over the side of the boat.”
Jason and Kyle only caught two more bass before they had to call it a weekend, but one weighed just under six pounds and the other one, Kyle’s best fish ever, weighed 9.2-pounds.“Those bass were already staging up and we were perch-jerking,” moaned Jason.
Unfortunately, both brothers have real day jobs and can’t get back up to Toledo Bend until Thursday night.“We may not catch a single fish,” Jason said half laughing, “but we won’t be chasing perch!”
Invariably, it happens on both Toledo Bend and Rayburn before most bass fishermen anticipate, but due to unseasonably warm water temperatures and little or no winter thus far, it is already “game on”.The largest of the prized sow bass are always eager to get the most stressful month or so of their year over and done with as quickly as possible.
On the heels of really cold winters (can’t remember one of those) the staging begins as the days grow longer and the extra sunlight triggers the spawning phenomenon.There is no need to wait on that, however, with surface temperatures on both impoundments already hovering just below the 60 degree mark.
Aside from finding the most productive spawning structure a little closer to the shoreline, the exceptionally low lake level on Toledo Bend will make little or no difference.Locate a patch of grass in 12 to 15 feet of water only a cast away from much shallower water and you will be in the hunt.
As a rule, the egg-laden females are somewhat lethargic and not eager to chase down their next meal so larger bulkier offerings like the jig and craw worm or a lizard make excellent choices.In the event that you just detest patiently nursing either one of these choices, consider opting for a 3/8ths to ½ ounce spinner bait.
Double the skirt and add a plastic or pork trailer to enlarge the profile.I am a fan of a single #7 Colorado blade as it produces a lot of flash and vibration even when fished at a slower pace. A large number of your strikes when slowly pumping the spinnerbait across the bottom will actually be the sudden absence of any tension on the line rather than a solid thump.When this occurs take a swing rather than paying the price after realizing what is going on much too late!
While there is no need to advocate the benefits of “catch and release” with bass fishermen, carefully handling them will guarantee that they will complete their spawning ritual.Most of the potentially terminal damage takes place when removing the hook or keeping them out of the water too long for a coveted picture or two.
A guide I worked with years ago, Andy Anderson, would always tell his clients when they were photographing their catch before putting it in the livewell, “Hold your breath the whole time you are doing this and you will know how the fish feels”Sadly enough, the concept of “catch and release” wasn’t even a consideration back then.
If you are still looking for that trophy bass, you are officially now on the clock!