Catching Big Bass No Accident
Last updated 1/26/2021 at 4:16pm
The early morning call from Jay was a little unexpected as I had not heard from him in over a year. “News travels slowly up here, but Lisa just told us about your Mom. Our neighbor recently died from Covid-19 so I guess there isn’t any place to hide from it.”
His condolences were appreciated as was his invitation. “I caught my first double digit fish of the year last Thursday and I think you ought to take a little break and come fish with me next week.”
I do not consider it to be a stretch to say that catching double digit bass on Toledo Bend has been a regular occurrence for Jay Hughes over the past seven years. “Regular” is a relative term, but his daily records tell the story. I would not expect anyone to believe the number of big bass he has caught and released over that span of time, but it merits listening when he says, “Now is the time to get it done!”
He also casually mentioned the fact that fourteen of those fish were caught between the middle of January and the end of February. Fourteen is a staggering number in itself, but Jay is quick to point out that several of those fish may not have quite made the ten pound mark as he seldom weighs them and there is also the possibility that he may have caught one or two of them more than once. “The current conditions could not be better,” he added. “Longer days, the lake level is perfect and this little warm spell is just what the doctor ordered. Maybe I’ll catch my first twelve pounder this year.” A single ten pound fish in a life time would satisfy most fishermen.
Hughes actually started targeting big bass only nine years ago. “Once I pinpointed when my chances were the best, I began bass fishing only those months and crappie fishing the rest of the year.”
Jay openly laments the fact that his eldest grandchild, Lisa, is headed to LSU next fall and she is the only other person that knows most of what he knows about big bass. “She accidentally caught an eight pounder on a shiner while crappie fishing when she was twelve and she has been
hooked ever since. I would have to look, but I think she has caught three bass over ten pounds.”
Lisa now fishes with her “Big Poppa” only during his two prime times of the year for duping over-sized bass. And what is that second prime time? “Depending on lake level and water temperature, I prefer night fishing in the summer over the early spring bite, revealed Hughes. “Big bass are
creatures of habit and they spend much of the summer in 20 to 23 feet of water. Their hold-ups are very isolated and that means more time spent
fishing than boat riding. ”
“We have actually caught more nine to ten-pound bass in the summer than the early spring, (five just last summer), but we have longer to get it done and the weather is much more forgiving. Lisa sunburns easily so this is perfect for her. He was also quick to point out that you can learn a lot about your granddaughter while sitting in a bass boat in the dark all night long.
If you are yet to catch your first ten pounder, you may want to make a note of a few of the findings Jay was willing to share.
In the early spring its longer days and warmer water. Off colored water can actually help as the fish hold a little tighter to cover. If the lake level doesn’t drop or rise significantly, spend your day in eight to twelve feet of water. Grass isn’t nearly as important as depth change. “A little ditch or small hump often attracts more than one big bass,” says Hughes.
He also says you can leave all those tackle boxes at the camp. Every big pre-spawn bass I have caught hit either a jig and craw worm or a half ounce single spin spinner bait. A number six or seven Colorado blade and a pork or plastic trailer renders the spinner bait even more
effective. S-L-O-W is always better for big bass!
“In the summer, its isolated depth changes as there is very little grass at the depths we fish,” states Hughes. “Pay attention to the major feeding periods and fish big baits. We fish a ten inch power worm with a rattle almost exclusively and Lisa is convinced a little dab of crawfish scent is a difference maker.” “Yes,” I accepted his invitation!