Lakecaster Online

BIG BASS SEASON
By Len Fairbanks

I told you last month that right now is the time to go. I told you that 6 out of the top 11 and 26 of the top 50 largemouths that have been taken in the State of Texas (each one over 15 lbs.) were caught in the months of February and March. But you just wouldn't listen, would you? Well you've already missed half of this year's BIG BASS SEASON, but there's still time to redeem yourself. March's full moon is on the 25th this year and if you have to narrow your spring bass fishing down to one weekend, then the 26th and 27th of March should be PRIME TIME!!! This month is going to give you your best remaining shot of the year at catching the biggest bass of your life. Sometime during March, every single bass in Lake Livingston that hasn't already spawned out, will make the annual trek to shallow water for the spawning ritual. Since you know where a large portion of the bass population is going to be, you can fish the shallows with increased confidence. And, one of the most productive baits that you can use is going to be a plastic lizard. Don't forget where you put your spinnerbait, because it will still catch a lot of bass this month and will catch them faster than a lizard will. While a spinnerbait will catch some of the more aggressive pre-spawn and spawning bass, the plastic lizard, because it is fished slower and on the bottom, will catch many of those bass that are simply not aggressive enough to chase down a spinnerbait. Many people theorize that bass are fooled into thinking that these plastic lizards are aquatic salamanders (usually called "waterdogs" or "mudpuppies") and are afraid they will eat their eggs off the spawning nest. I usually don't concern myself with theory and deal only in fact, and the fact of the matter is that at this time of year, a bass will strike a plastic lizard more aggressively than any other type of soft plastic lure. The more aggressive the strike, the easier it is for us to feel it. For some reason known only to the bass, they seem to take a lizard all the way into their mouths and give us at least a fighting chance at a hook-set and a catch.


Now that we have looked at some of the "why's", lets look at some of the "how's", the "where's" and the "what with's". Where should be shallow (0-4'), relatively protected backwater areas. Pockets off the main lake or one of the main creek channels will be excellent. A sandy or gravelly bottom is preferred but not required. The best areas will have an old underwater ditch or small creek running through it with slightly deeper water (6'-9'). The bass will use this ditch like a highway as they move from deeper water and begin to think about spawning. If a cold front comes through and lowers the water temperature, they will back out of the shallower water and hold in or right on the edge of the ditch. In between fronts, as the water warms, the bass will move closer to the banks where they are eventually going to spawn. As far as the lure itself, many manufacturers make quality plastic lizards. Gene Larew, Berkley and Zoom are some of the more prominent names seen on the local tackle shelves. I prefer either a 4" or 6" Berkley Power Lizard in black/neon (black with red metal flake mixed in) with a chartreuse tail. Berkley Power Baits have fish attractant cooked into the plastic during the manufacturing process and the bass seem to hold on to these lures just a little longer and give you a few more precious seconds to detect the strike and set the hook. This is not just some gimmick, it really works. While I am just randomly casting my lizard to shoreline cover, I usually use a 6" lizard since I seem to catch bigger bass with it. But, when I know I have found a bass on a bed, I prefer the 4" version since it is more difficult for the bass to pick the lizard up without getting the hook in its mouth. Most any dark color will work, I just have developed a lot of confidence in black/neon and I like to fish a chartreuse tail on any soft plastic lure in stained water and almost all of the water in Lake Livingston right now is either stained or off-color. I will usually "Texas rig" my lizard with a 5/16 or 1/4 oz. bullet weight and a 4/0 VMC Texas Special worm hook. The VMC Texas Special worm hook is an extra-strong, bent (or offset) shank worm hook that is very well adapted to this type of fishing and is one of the few that comes out of the box sharp enough to fish. This time of year, I always "peg" my weight with either a rubber band or a toothpick so that it won't slide up and down my line easily. I do this because many times when you cast your lure into heavy cover without the weight being "pegged", the lizard will get tangled in the cover but the weight will slide down the line and give you the false impression that your lure has penetrated the cover and reached the bottom. So peg those sinkers and get those lizards down to the fish. That 4/0 hook may look and sound large but remember that March is going to give us the best chance of the remaining year to catch the biggest bass of our life. The next time you go into a restaurant with mounted bass on the wall take a 4/0 worm hook and lay it in the mouth of an 8 or 9 pounder and you'll see why I use a 5/0 a lot of the time. Since most 9 pounders can swallow a grapefruit, I don't hesitate to use a big hook. For line, I prefer fresh, premium quality 20-25 pound test monofilament with good abrasion resistance, like Trilene XT or Big Game. This line virtually disappears in the water. I usually use a 7'6" heavy action Fenwick HMG graphite flipping rod (model GTC 775-2) for most of my lizard work. I prefer these longer rods to give me just a little extra leverage when I hook a big fish in heavy cover. Also, I use like to use a quality, high-speed baitcasting reel with a thumb bar release like one of the new Abu Garcia Tornos.


Now that we are rigged up, we need to use an underhanded "pitch" cast to put our lizard in the thickest shallow water cover that we can find and fish it SLOW. This "pitch" cast keeps the lure close to the water and lets the lure enter the water with very little splash. Remember the water is still a little on the cool side and the bass may not be real aggressive, so fish that lizard SSSLLLLLOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!!! Try to make that lizard shake without moving it and stay ready and alert. Many times you won't feel the strike, all that you'll see is your line moving sideways. When you see this, set the hook hard and keep the pressure on. Try to get the fish's head up and get her moving toward you. If she gets hung up, then go in there and get her.


I sincerely hope that at least some of the information that I have provided was enlightening or maybe entertaining but most of all helpful. If you would like some first hand instruction on black bass fishing on Lake Livingston or Sam Rayburn, I guide full time on both of these lakes and can be reached at (936) 563-5454 or email me at fairbanks@towa.org. If you get a chance, check out my website at www.livingston.net/fairbanks and let me know what you think. Until next time, catch all you can and release all that you catch. Good luck, be safe out there and may God bless.


Sponsored by: Ranger Boats, Motorguide, Pro-Kon-Trol, Lowrance Electronics, Fenwick, Berkley, Spiderwire, Abu Garcia, Energy Batteries, Turbo Props, Dual Pro Battery Chargers, VMC Hooks, Plano and Ocean Waves Sunglasses.

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