Part Forty-two

Largemouth Bass Fishing, Part 3
By Tom Keith

From Fly Tying and Fishing for PANFISH & BASS
Thanks to Frank Amato Publications for use permission!

In some areas of the country, early April is considered to be one of the best times for bass fishing because the fish feed heavily while preparing to spawn. Spawning is controlled by water temperature, and water temperatures vary in different areas - it's best for the angler to get into the habit of using a water thermometer to detrmine when spawning is apt to occur where he fishes. Largemouth bass generally spawn when whter temperatures are in the 62 to 65 degree range.

Before the spawn starts, when water temperatures climb over the 50 degree mark, bass begin moving into areas where they will later spawn. Throughout this period fly fishermen will find plenty of action in 1 to 3 feet of water near shore. The fish constantly prowl shorelines looking for food and are less selective in their feeding than at any other time of year.

We like to fish in the morning with Woolly Worms, Wooly Buggers, and Marabou Leeches in sizes 4 - 6, patterns that provide plenty of action to tempt the bass. By mid-afternoon when the sun is at its warmest, we switch to Deerhair Frogs or Bumblepups in sizes 2 - 6. This is the first legitimate opportunity of the year to fish floating bugs and enjoy the excitment of topwater strikes.

Try casting a Deerhair Frog near the bank where whater is only a few inches deep and practice twitching the lure toward deeper water. Keep the rod tip pointed toward the frog and at about a 45-degree angle to the water so it will absorb the fish's energy when a strike occurs.

When the spawn is in progress it's the male's job to protect his nest, and he strikes viciously at just about anything that enters his area. Adult bass are easy to catch during the spawn, and because of heavy pressure on the nation's bass population, we recommend anglers allow the fish to spawn unmolested and that any bass taken be returned immediately to the water unharmed.

When the female bass finishes laying her eggs, she leaves the nest and moves to deeper water to rest and recover from the rigors of spawning. Whe the newly-hatched bass are able to to fend for themselves they form schools, leave the nest, and head for shallow areas where they can hide and find food in the security of dense vegetation. When the fry leave there is no longer a need for the male to guard his nest, so he drifts off into deeper water and rests a few days before heading back into the shallows to feed.

Fishing improves after the fish rest a few days, and fly fishermen who spend as much time as possible on the water during this period, will be well reqarded for their efforts. Bass are very aggressive in the late spring and a variety of streamer and bucktail patterns as well as deerhair frogs and poppers will produce good action.

It is important to keep in mind that the largemouth is a predator that prefers to hide in or behind some type of cover so it can ambush its prey. The bass's body shape allows it to swim easily among weeds and other forms of cover and it is designed for short bursts of speed rather than fast swimming for long distances. Though it will occasionally chase potential food for a short distance, it is not a relentless pursuer like a northern pike ofr muskellunge. A bass would rather stick close to cover and strike quickly from ambush, wasting as little energy as possible while collecting its food.

Knowing that should have an effect on how a fly fisherman goes about trying to hook a bass. The most successful fisherman has learned to recognize and fish only cover where bass are apt to be hiding. He's learned to cast accurately and place his fly as close as possible to weeds, tree stumps, logs, and various other kinds of cover, trying to put the fly or lure right on the nose of a hiding bass.

The angler can increase his success during the hot summer months by fishing in the early morning, in the evening and at night when temperatures are coolest, and by intentionally avoiding the hottest part of the day which can be uncomfortable for both fish and fishermen. Bass search for food in shallow water while the water is cool, but when it warms they head for deeper, more comfortable areas out of the direct sunlight.

Thereis no time of day I enjoy being on the water more than in the early morning. The water is usually calm then, it's the coolest part of the day and so quiet I can hear what's foing on all over the lake, and I like seeing all the things that happen around a lake early in the day. Many animals are still active at sunrise and while fishing I've seen a variety of wildlife species including: deer, coyotes, bobcates, moose, and antelope stop by for a quick drink before bedding down for the day.

All kinds of gamebirds and non-game birds are active in the morning. I enjoy listening to pheasants cackling while I'm pulling on my waders and seeing red-twinged blackbirds flit from cattail to cattail while I'm wading to a promising spot, or hearing the rush of wings as teal zip past me while I'm casting. People who stay in bed late in the morning miss seeing and being a part of a whole separate special world that begins each day just at first light and lasts for only an hour or so. ~Tom Keith

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