Spring is upon us and my fingers are itching to get bass fishing!
Due to local DEC regulations, we are not permitted to fish for bass on Long Island for a few more weeks, so I will discuss the techniques I use for upstate New York and Connecticut.
Despite a short, mild winter, the bass will begin their annual movement towards the shoreline in preparation for feeding and bedding. Males will bite more readily close to the shoreline, however the larger females will hold back, usually at the first or second drop-off. This annual ritual is probably the best time to catch that lunker fish you have dreamed about.
Let us first look at clear water conditions. Keep your distance from your target area, reduce shoreline or boat noise to a minimum. Fish only small baits that will make as little surface movement as possible. This is the perfect time to fish light lines with a six foot spinning rod and reel combo. Pale green and pumpkinseed colors will produce well at this time of the year. As you know, I like to use dipping dye and so a small section of the tail dipped in chartreuse will certainly get a lot of attention. Jig and pork combinations are a natural presentation and will draw detectable bites from the larger fish. The best color is without doubt black and blue. I do however like to make the jigs as close to the local crawfish color that I am trying to imitate, so remember to try greens and browns with a touch of red in the body. If I had a choice between plastic and pork trailers for bass fishing, I would have to choose plastic. The versatility of this product is far superior to pork. The buoyancy, texture and adaptability make it a number one choice. You could also consider dipping the tail of the trailer in red dye to really dress up the latter presentation.
If you encounter suspended bass fish, a jerkbait will catch a better quality fish. Due to the size of the lure, smaller bass are less likely to strike at the bait leaving it for the bigger fish. Of course, now I have said that you will probably catch a nine-inch bass on a six-inch lure! That has happened to me so many times, it is no longer funny. The spinnerbait fished with a Colorado, willow leaf blade combination is a very productive lure at this time of year.
Stained and muddy water will allow the angler to become more daring in the presentation. Larger baits with dark colors such as black, blue, and purple can be seen. When worm fishing, I like to add a rattle just in front of the hook point. Bass will track the sound before it sees the bait and will usually commit to the lure, once the outline can be seen. Again, spinnerbaits rolled over stumps and rocks or lipless crankbaits ripped through the water close to the emerging weedbeds will draw savage strikes from any hungry bass. I also like to Carolina rig early in the season in fifteen to twenty feet of water, for those previously mentioned, larger fish that will not come to shore until things really heat up. It is worth the slow dragging presentation of this rig to catch a monster fish.
In closing as we approach the new millennium, I would ask all my fellow bass anglers and those of us who also like to catch other species, to please make a determined effort to release your fish back to their natural environment. Take home your trash, loose line and discarded tackle and please leave the places you fish in the same condition you would like to find them.