Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Search, Find and Follow-up Bassin'

I guess that I'll categorize this as a combination of a fishing report, fishing story, and bass fishing tips type of blog post, all in one.  A few days ago, my buddy, Rodger, and I got an early morning start and ventured out in search of bass on a cloudy day with a high percent chance of rain.  The hourly weather outlook on my weather app indicated that we'd be mostly rain free until the early to mid afternoon.  Our original plan was to take my boat out on a local lake.  However, one of my trailer tires was flat, and the spare had dry rotted.  Rather than spend all morning of rain free weather fixing the boat trailer tire, we decided to maximize fishing time, hoof it, and fish from the bank.

We met at the lake around six thirty AM and decided to fish a cove next to the bridge that crossed the lake.  The shoreline consisted of a reeds over a shallow spot that dropped to deep water, and rip rap with a fair amount of blow downs that often held fish.  The water depth in the cove averaged about twenty feet deep in the middle, with much deeper water at the mouth of the cove, and a shallow flat in the far end of the cove.  I know this because I fish there with my boat often.

This particular cove had been very good to us this time of year.  I've had success tossing hard and soft jerk baits, as well as soft plastic worms and creature baits.  I've also had success casting faster moving baits, like crankbaits, chatterbaits, buzzbaits and spinnerbaits parallel to shore that pick off more aggressive bass and cover water quickly, especially during low light time periods of the day.

I carried two rods with me.  My baitcasting outfit was rigged with a chatterbait, and the other rod was rigged with a baby brush hog (a creature bait made by Zoom) that Texas rigged, using light weight and line on a medium action spinning outfit.  My plan was to alternate between the baby brush hog and a finesse plastic worm until I could figure out a decent pattern.

Rodger was the first to catch a bass.  I wasn't near him at the time.  According to him, it was a decent sized fish, about seventeen to eighteen inches long.  He used a small, four inch plastic worm, and tossed it to the tip of a log that dropped off into deep water, and let it sink.  After a few seconds of dead sticking the lure, the line started moving off in the opposite direction.  Rodger picked up the slack and set the hook, and landed a decent sized bass.
Rodger working a plastic worm around some blow downs.
Access to the cove from the road was easy, but tricky, especially since I'm ten years older than the last time that I'd accessed this spot.  I was pretty spry ten years ago, now climbing down rip rap is risky business for me.  Back in 2012, I was in a car accident that pretty much blew out my ankle.  Surgery may have fixed me up, but, the doctor recommended that I take the rehab route and make a few changes in my lifestyle.  I had to give up playing softball, at least, playing infield, because, I couldn't plant my right foot while going to my backhand from the left side of the field, to make that long throw to first base.  If I couldn't play like I used to, and I wasn't interested in playing other positions, then it just wasn't fun any longer to me.  Plus, the doc said that surgery may not have made a difference anyway.

Sorry that I digressed.  We worked the area thoroughly and decided that the action didn't warrant us to spend much time at the first spot, so it was time for a spot change.  I had plenty of good shoreline spots to try.  So, we left and tried another spot on the lake.

This area of the lake was much shallower, with a submerged rip rap sediment barrier that crossed the lake.  We walked an old road bed where the shoreline had numerous dead falls that provided plenty of cover for bass.  I started off with the first bite at this spot, as a fish aggressively inhaled my baby brush hog and swam off.  I was excited as I set the hook, only to find out that it wasn't the species that we were looking for.  It was a less than spectacular sized nine inch crappie!  I've never had a crappie inhale a baby brush hog before, much less a small one, so that was surprising.
Never would I imagine a medium sized crappie eating a baby brush hog.  He inhaled it!  Learn something every day, I guess.  
I moved up the lake in search of more bass and logs that hid them.  At the next spot within a spot, there were several submerged logs and trees.  This was another spot that I'd done well in the past.  I worked the baby brush hog thoroughly through all of the logs.  Birds were singing nearby.  I'm not sure what the species was, but, it sounded like it was singing the word, "chatterbait, chatterbait, chatterbait".  I took that as an omen, so, I switched up and tossed the chatterbait.  However, the bass weren't listening to the bird, at least at my spot.  Rodger, meanwhile, again, out of my camera range, texted me a selfie.  He'd just caught another nice bass on a chatterbait!  That bass was listening!  I mentioned the birds to Rodger, and he didn't notice them, so, the chatterbait idea was his all along.
Rodger's selfie sporting another decent sized bass that listened to the birds singing, "chatterbait, chatterbait, chatterbait"!
We moved further down the lake along the old road, and I picked up a Maryland "keeper" sized bass, a twelve to thirteen incher, on a chatterbait.  So, finally, a bass that I targeted with a chatterbait listened to the birds!
Finally, I found a bass that listened to the birds.
We worked our way down the lake to a cove that is heavily wooded with standing timber and blow downs.  I picked up a dinky sized bass that chased down my four inch finesse worm as I reeled it up to make another cast.  Hmmm, I figured that maybe these fish were more active than I gave them credit for.  So, I cast to the same spot, reeled the worm in quickly, and caught another twelve incher.  Maybe a pattern?  I tried it all over the area without another bite, so no, not the pattern.

In that same area, there was a log that reached out to what was left of the cove's creek channel.  I decided to work that log thoroughly, as it seemed very fishy to me.  On one cast, I put the worm right where a branch on the log created a Y, at the channel edge, and let it sink to the bottom.  I took off my sunglasses and cleaned them, then, put them back on, reeled up the slack, and there was a fish hanging on my plastic worm.  So, I set the hook and it turned out to be a decent sized sixteen inch bass.  That was all the action at that cove, so we decided to fish our way back to where we started.

On the way back, Rodger caught another nice eighteen inch bass that inhaled his plastic worm.  I made a bee line to the same log where I caught my first bass.  This time, I tossed my finesse worm off the tip of the log, same exact spot where my first bass hit.  Sure enough, another fish was there.  I felt the tap on the worm and watched the worm swim toward the thick cover, so, I set the hook.  It was a nice fish.  I could see it as it splashed at the surface.
Rodger with his third nice bass of the day, caught using a four inch plastic worm.
The only problem was that the fish took my line into the brush, and my line was over the top of a small branch, just by an inch or two.  As the fat female bass dangled half way out of the water, I tried giving it line so it could free itself from the cover, but, that didn't work.  Next, I tried shaking the rod tip to free the line or get the bass to flip itself off.  In doing so, I must have sawed a week spot in the line, because, it broke, and the fish, and my lure, were gone.  My guess was that fish may have been between eighteen and twenty inches, and my heart sank as that could have been my best chance at a decent fish all day.

The fish were just not on.  The bite was slow, typical for post spawn fish at this lake.  A few boats that we talked to had similar results.  The common theme was, "you shoulda been here last week"!  We fished our way back without another bite.  It was almost noon, and we decided to leave, get lunch, and try another body of water.

After a nice lunch, we hit our second body of water not far from a local country store that served up a mean cheeseburger sub that I found quite satisfying, while Rodger enjoyed a tuna sandwich.  I was worried about this spot, because, rain pounded our area the previous night, that it might have been muddy.  But, after a short drive, we arrived to find that the water was in really good shape.

The water had a tannic acid stain to it.  The spot was very weedy and had a bunch woody cover in the water, perfect for bass fishing.  It's not an easy spot to fish, and, I wasn't familiar with the best spots in this area, since I rarely fish it.  I decided to rely on my chatterbait to cover as much water as possible in an attempt to find active bass.

Early on, I had a light bite and missed the fish.  Rodger was fishing his finesse worm, so I urged him to toss to the spot where I had the hit, but, after a couple casts, the fish did not bite.  After that, I threw the chatterbait a few more times, hoping the fish would take it more aggressively, then moved on.  That might have been a mistake, that I didn't continue to try for that fish with my plastic worm. Instead, I moved on in search of more fish.

Meanwhile, Rodger gave crappie fishing a go, and caught a decent crappie right off the bat.  I didn't bring any panfish gear, so I kept moving to cover water, walking down the bank, casting to any cover that may hold a bass.  And, there was a lot to cast to.  Places like this are often difficult to fish, because, the bass could literally be anywhere.  Still, with time, you can establish a pattern.

About a hundred yards up the lake, I had another fish dart out and nip my chartreuse chatterbait and miss it.  So, I switched tactics, reached for my other rod that was rigged with my finesse worm, and followed up with a cast to the spot where I had the bite.  A fish instantly inhaled my plastic worm, and I set the hook and landed a twelve inch bass.  I was on the board here, and my confidence grew.  Not only did this place look very bassy, there were willing bass here.
I just love when fish hammer chatterbaits.  This bass from a different fishing trip inhaled a white chatterbait with a white plastic worm trailer.
Not long after that, about another hundred yards up, I caught another twelve incher on the chatterbait.  No follow up needed on this fish, as it slammed the chatterbait.  I released it and moved on.  I had the bug now, more confidence, and felt like I was starting to dial in a pattern, finally.  A few casts later, and another bass fell to the follow up worm after it missed my chatterbait.

Rodger didn't have much luck crappie fishing, so, he switched back to bassin' and caught up with me.  I skipped a couple huge blow downs to give him a better chance at finding a bass.  Instead,  I decided to work a small tree branch that stuck out along the near shoreline, that had a weed mat sandwiched between it, and the bank.

I tossed my chatterbait out and worked it back across the tip of the log.  A big fish shot out and nailed the chatterbait, but, missed it.  I yelled out that it was a nice fish that I just missed.  Quickly, I reached for my follow up rod, and tossed my plastic worm to the spot...nothing.  No bite.  I tried several casts from different angles, and nothing.  I figured that the bass still had to be there, so, I persisted.

My next cast followed the same trajectory as the one where I had the bite.  Only, this time, I worked the worm very slowly through the spot, jigging very slightly, to make the worm dance, almost in place, without gaining much line.

Finally, I had a pick up, the line went tight and the fish started to swim off with my bait.  I set the hook and hooked the fish solidly.  As the fish rose to the surface, it shot half way out of the water, with big mouth agape as she shook her head in an effort to throw the hook.  I pleaded out loud for the fish to not spit the hook as I fought her.  Eventually, she tired enough that I was able to lift her out of the water.

After I unhooked her, I started to do my hand measurement as I admired the fish.  Rodger was right there, and pulled out a measuring tape.  I held the fish steady as he measured her at twenty inches.  During pre-spawn, a female bass like this could weigh four to five pounds, but, my guess was that she was now between three and a half to four pounds.  Still, a nice fish that saved my day, and redeemed me from my earlier heartbreak of a lost fish.
The key to catching this twenty inch bass was to follow up my chatterbait with a finesse worm that she couldn't resist.  It took me a few casts, but was eventually able to tempt her into biting.  That was my pattern for the day, search, find and follow up.  Sorry about the leaf in the pic.  Apparently, as I hoisted her out of the water, a leaf stuck to her side, and I didn't see it.
I worked my way up the lake but the water was very shallow and weedy there.  Not that fish couldn't be there, as it would be worth fishing when they are more active, but, they didn't seem to be in the shallows on this particular day.  Rodger stayed put and fished the sunken logs while I worked my way back to him.  It started to rain pretty heavily at that point, and we were both sore and tired.  Getting old sucks!

So, we called it quits and were thankful that for most of the day, the bad weather held off.  Most of all, it was great fishing together again with a good friend.  Next time, I hope to have my boat ready so we can sit and relax on something more comfortable than a rock or log once in a while!  Still, shore fishing brought back a bunch of memories, and proved that we can still find fish with or without a boat.

One thing that I do when shore fishing, is to secure the fishing rod that I'm not using to a clip that hangs off the back of my fishing vest.  Keeping my hands free allows me to make more casts and stay mobile.  I don't have to bend down a hundred times a day to pick up a fishing rod.  Wearing a fishing vest, stuffed with my tackled needed for the day, allows me to not have to carry a tackle box with me, for the same reason, to keep my hands free.
In this picture, other than me unhooking a bass, you can see my tip above in action, with the rod hanging by a clip attached to a strap behind the neck of my vest, so my fishing rod can hang behind me as I fish my other fishing rod.  If I need it quickly, all I have to do is unclip it, then clip on the one that I don't need.
Finally, the pic above provides my fishing tip, the fishing report is well detailed, as was the story, and the pattern for the day that resulted in most of my fish caught, was the search, find and follow up technique.  I used a search lure to find the fish (a chatterbait, in this instance), and when they bit and missed, as finicky fish often do, I followed up with a finesse plastic worm on light line to get them to bite and seal the deal.  As it turned out, the birds were correct, that a chatterbait played a vital role with my fishing luck for the day.  Fishing was tough, but, we made the most of it, and caught some pretty nice fish.

I hope you liked this report/story/tip/pattern blog post.  Please let me know in the comments if you enjoyed the post, and let me know of  your find and follow patterns that have worked for you.  Thanks for following.  Until the next post!!!!


Rodg said...

I'm glad we both caught fish but as usual, you caught the biggest and the most fish. To tell you the truth, I was a little worried at your slow start though:)
Thanks for finding the time in your busy life to pound the banks with me, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although, you'd think that by now, I'd have learned not to eat tuna fish sandwiches from gas stations. Gurgle, gurgle.....

Fat Boy said...

I had a great time fishing with you Rodg. Next time, try the cheeseburger sub! LOL

Ratsotail said...

No one can document a fishing session like the Kevmaster!

Mike said...

Hi Can you send me a picture of your rod holder for your fishing vest Thanks Mike

Fat Boy said...

Thank you Jeff!!! Mike, the type of clip that I use to hold my fishing rod in my vest is one of those snaps that you can use for flags on a flag pole. Home Depot has them. You can use just about anything that is big enough to fit around the rod but too big so that the guides will go through. Something like this: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-1-2-in-x-3-5-8-in-Nickel-Plated-Fixed-Bolt-Snap-43184/205887663