Area bass hunters too often fall into a routine on fishing trips, and follow the same tactics time after time.
One problem that too many have is that they get hooked on wood, and fish it to the exclusion of all other types of structure. There’s nothing wrong with fishing wood many times. Largemouths like fallen trees extending out into a lake, or stumps, logs, and drowned brush, and I’ve caught many a bass around them. If there’s a problem it’s that every bass angler knows wood is good, and they’re going to hit any woody shoreline around.
I fished a lake a couple of years ago, got there at dawn, worked a very nice shoreline with lots of wood and picked up four bass on a worm and pig and jig. Then other anglers started launching their bass boats or small craft, and the first headed immediately for that shoreline. He might have caught one or two. Then another worked it, and another, and once I saw two boats waiting patiently for their turn to cover the stretch. They had to see all of the others that were there before them, but they were going to cast wood. Or else.
If you’ve fallen into that deep carved rut, I’d like to offer three words that will certainly improve your luck, “docks and rocks.” I’ve been fishing a good sized private lake, about a hundred acres, for long years, and while I might try a downed tree or two along its length, eventually I head for a section of riprap shoreline a half mile or so from the launch ramp. The landowner there laid down an 80-yard section of pale gray limestone rocks along his shore to prevent erosion, and the rocks stretch out along the bottom for about five yards. More important, the water drops off very quickly to 10-foot depths off the riprap.
Bass love these rocks. They hide crayfish and small pansters, and make a wonderful hunting ground for hungry fish. I like to sit almost against the shore and parallel cast it with a dark blue or black jelly worm with twister tail, gradually moving my casts to deeper water. If I’m there early, I can almost count on taking several largemouths from among the rocks, and if not, they’ll be holding in the deep water maybe 30 to 40 feet out.
It’s not a fluke. After I fish this section, I go directly across the lake to another stretch of riprap with deep water nearby, and usually catch another four to five good bass to four pounds plus. Incidentally, once I’ve skimmed the cream from these two stretches, I often switch to a deep diving crankbait in crayfish colors and take a couple more. Rocks are good.
Then there’s docks. Many a lake large and small around our area has waterfront homes, and those homes invariably sport a dock of one kind or another. Bass like to lie under these shaded structures and wait for passing bluegill and crappie, so smart bassers will cruise along quietly with their electric motors whirring and skip plastic worms well back underneath these docks, letting them sink to bottom, then crawl back slowly. I’ve caught many a bass doing this too, again especially if there’s deep water nearby.
Here’s a final thought for folk who aren’t into bass fishing. Last fall I fished a good sized lake in a pontoon boat with a couple of friends. We fished strictly with 1/16 to 1/32 ounce jigs with red heads and white skirts, and baited them with waxworms. Then skipped them back beneath the docks, let them sink, and retrieved very slowly. Without exaggeration, I’d estimate we caught 200 crappie and bluegill of which I personally kept about 30 crappie in 10- to 12-inch sizes for dinner.
The waxworms had to be there. A few times I cast with no bait left, and all I got was a bump or two. With the waxworms I hooked nearly every bite and some swallowed the jig. The trip was made in mid-September and I’ll bet they’re waiting under docks in your favorite lake right now.
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org n Leesville Lake remains the top muskie hotspot in Ohio with 68 Huskie Muskies caught so far this year, along with 194 honorable mentions, and 10 fish of less than 30 inches reported. Clear Fork Reservoir had 27 Huskie Muskies, 137 honorable mentions, and 43 of less than 30 inches. Other lakes that produced good catches included West Branch with 6, 80, and 8 respectively, Salt Fork with 14, 56, and 29, and Lake Milton with 8, 88, and 27.
n To show off angling skills, give bragging rights, and win good prizes, BoatUS is encouraging anglers to submit their photos of large or smallmouth bass to the “Bass of the Month” contest at BoatUS.com. Two winning photos, one for each species, will be selected at the end of September, and each winner will receive a $50 BoatUS VISA gift card, logo items, and a fishing gear goodie bag filled with tackle and equipment.
n Summer’s generally dry conditions may speed the onset of fall color in Ohio this year. However, the depth of color and length of season will depend mostly on September’s unpredictable weather, according to state foresters.To help Ohioans plan their outings, ODNR will begin issuing weekly fall color updates on Oct. 4.