Lakecaster Online

Of Bass & Gals
By: Sue Crochet

The boat is ready, tackle is organized and reels have new line … time to go fishing! Oh yeah, we're getting slim and trim from our new diet and exercise program, too … so those bass don't have a prayer!

I don't know about you, but I've had plenty of R&R. The tennis elbow has had time to rest and a steroid shot in the shoulder has simmered the old bursitis down. A few visits to the physical therapist have my neck and shoulders feeling pretty good, too. As the pounds begin to drop off, I suppose the rest of me will feel better, as well. What do you think? Are we ready to go after old bucketmouth?!

It's late January as I'm writing this article and the fishing is pretty darned slow right now. Although lake levels on both Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn have been pretty steady for awhile now, the alternate cold and warm days have the fish constantly on the move. This is typical of bass fishing at this time of the year in Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas, though.

I suspect that by the time this article is printed, most of our coldest weather will be behind us and bass fishing will be shaping up nicely. Toledo Bend is near pool now and we're seeing water well into the buck brush and trees. This will make for some outstanding (and challenging) springtime bass fishing. You'll probably be seeing more folks flipping in the bushes than we have over the past couple of years.

In the early spring, a good choice for early morning lures would be a ½-oz. chartreuse/white Cyclone spinnerbait or Rat-L-Trap in a crawfish pattern. Both of these lures can be retrieved at various speeds to adjust the depth at which they are running. They also allow you to cover a lot of water quickly and in many instances, will put a limit of fish in the boat before the sun begins appearing over the trees.

I suggest starting out away from the bushes/bank in approximately 10 feet of water and weaving your way back and forth toward shallower water. I would also start with a slow retrieve, allowing the lures to "tick" whatever structure is on bottom in the area where you are fishing. If you should be fortunate enough to be in an area where there is grass, I've had great success when the lure snags the grass and I jerk it quickly. Oftentimes, this will inspire a bass to grab the lure more quickly than if it's just swimming along.

After the sun is up, or if the spinner bait and trap are not working, I'll switch to a Reaction Lures lizard or craw and begin pitching to the bases of each bush in the area. Don't be afraid to pitch to a single piece of structure several times. I've seen occasions where a lure has been pitched to a single bush as many as seven times, at only slightly differently locations, before a bass would strike. Remember, the water is still pretty cold at this time of the year and the fish are not as aggressive as when the spawn begins. Larger bass especially won't move very far to take a lure.

We've caught bass out of the bushes in many different ways. The technique that has been most used is pitching or flipping Texas-rigged plastics or jig and pig combinations. If the wind is not a factor, I prefer using a ¼-oz. slip sinker. I feel that the less lead the fish feels in its mouth, the longer it will hold the lure. However, there are times, especially with our unpredictable March winds, when I'll have to go to a ½-oz. or heavier weight in order to have more control. When this happens, it's important to set the hook quickly, before the fish feels the heavy weight.

My husband and I have also been very successful fishing bushes with Carolina-rigged plastics, using a short leader and ½-oz. weight. We have scoured the flats, pockets and drains of Toledo Bend's 1215 area picking up fish after fish using this technique. I really like fishing a Carolina rig because I think that a fish will hold the lure longer than with any other technique you can use. This is because the weight is further up the line and away from the bait.

In more recent years, plastics fished "wacky" style and "split-shotting" have become popular methods used for catch bass on both Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn. These "finesse" techniques are quite successful when the bass are suspended and especially when conditions are toughest, such as immediately following a cold front. My husband and I experienced several occasions last spring when these methods were most successful if the bait was not moved at all … "dead sticking". That is, cast the lure out and let it fall. Once it reaches bottom, let it sit for several seconds, then move your rod tip only slightly in any direction. Of any plastic lure we've used to finesse fish, the Reaction Lures Wacky Worm has been the most productive. It's garlic impregnated and the bass seem to love it.

So there you have it! Find your favorite fishing hole on Toledo Bend or Sam Rayburn and begin chunking and winding. As the weather warms up, so will the bass fishing. Remember … no one ever caught fish sitting at home watching it on television!
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News Around the Lake

The Lake Area Lady Anglers will be having their next tournament on March 9 at Sam Rayburn out of Twin Dikes Public Ramp. If you are female, 18 years of age or older, enjoy meeting new people, love fishing and the outdoors and like to have fun, this is the club for you. For more information, you can give me a call at (337) 217-9283 or e-mail me at cbasskitten2@cs.com.

The Women's Bass Fishing Assoc. (WBFA) will be hosting their Toledo Bend "Beauty and the Bass" event during the week of April 7th through the 12th. The Pro-Am format allows ladies at any level of expertise to compete and learn a lot about tournament angling. This is a great opportunity for those of you who are not able to travel around the country fishing the entire tour. For more information, you may contact WBFA at (205) 669-1330 or e-mail them at EBCWBFA@aol.com.

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