Part Forty-eight

Largemouth Bass Fishing, Part 5
(Continued from (Part 43)
By Tom Keith

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

That experience taught me that largemouths will take slow moving floating bass bugs. I've taken several good-sized bass since then by casting my lure onto a lily pad, waiting a few seconds, then pulling it gently into the water. Sometimes the strike comes immediately, sometimes only after I let it the bug sit motionless in the water for a minute or more, and sometimes after I make it dart a few inches across the surface. The key is to try all of the tactics you can to tease that bass into striking. He's there, lurking below the lily pads, watching your lure. If you work it slowly and seductively enough he'll take it, and that's when the real fun begins.

Sometimes it gets so hot during the summer you just don't feel like battling the heat. That's when you should try fishing after dark. Moonlight bass bugging is a totally different experience, one every fly fisherman should enjoy at least once. Chances are, if you try it you'll be hooked on night fishing for good.

Everything looks different at night. The biggest difference I notice is that I loose some of my depth perception and it's more dificult for me to accurately place a cast when I can't clearly see the cover or background I'm casting to. The rules for night fishing are about the same as during the day, except that everything must be more deliberate. You wade slower, more quietly, and try not to make any disturbance in the still night.

It is advisable to do your night fishing in areas you've become familiar with during the day. It is much more difficult to wade in an unfamiliar area at night than in one where you are sure there are no snags to trip over or holes to step into. But, regardless of how well you know the spot, it is a good idea to wear a life vest when fishing after dark.

Bass seem to become less wary and feed more aggressively at night, but they still prefer to stay close to cover rather than venture into large expanses of open water.

Floating Deerhair Bugs and Frogs are ideal for nightime fishing. My choice of gear includes and 8 1/2 to 9-foot rod rated for No. 8 or No. 9 floating line and a tapered 7 1/2 foot long 6-pound test leader. I use dark colored flies one or two sizes larger than normal at night because I think dark, large flies are easier for fish to see silhouetted against the night sky.

I usually start by casting a dark-colored No.4 Deerhair Frog as close as possible to shoreline vegetation. I try to make that imitation frog act like a real frog floating in the water. Real frogs sit motionless for long periods with only their eyes or heads above the surface, and when they move they dart forward a short distance underwater. When a from swims it usually does so purposefully a few feet at a time, then floats back to the surface. Try to make your fly imitate those actions as closely as possible.

Most of my nighttime strikes on deerhair frogs have occured after the lure has floated motionless for several minutes and I've just started to make make it swim forward. I start that movement with a short sharp Pop! then make a series of quick, short jerks. If a bass to going to grab my lure it usually happens when I first pop the lure.

It is very important to keep the rod tip pointed at the frog and at an angle to the water, so when a strike occurs the force is absorbed by the rod rather than by the leader. The leader is apt to break or a knot to part if the force directed on it is great enough.

Keeping the rod at an angle also lets you set the hook quickly and keep the line tight so the fish is less likely to throw the hook.

I fish the shoreline thoroughly - and I mean thoroughly. I cast to every depression in the vegetation and any spots that even look like they might hold a fish. That means I move along the shoreline casting two or three times to about every 3 feet of shoreline, and if a particular spot looks especially attractive, I may make as many as a dozen casts there to cover every inch of the spot like a blanket.

I prefer to fish topwater Deerhair Bugs on cloudy, dark nights when the water is very calm. I fish only shallow water, about 4 feet deep or less, and I fish very slowly. I'm convinced one of the biggest problems fishermen have is that they fish too darn fast, whether fishing during the day or at night. For some reason the next spot you want to cast to always looks better than the one you're working on now, and it's hard not to hurry to get to it. But, if you want to catch more fish more often, you have to make yourself slow down. You have to control that urge to hurry and concentrate on fishing thoroughly and deliberately. Fishing is a relaxful, enjoyable activity - don't hurry through it.~Tom Keith

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