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- Field Notes - Better Bass Fishing - Lesson 3
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Bass Fishing

Better Bass Fishing - Lesson 3
By Pete Douvarjo - Eggemoggin Guide Service

My #2 best Smallmouth lure.....  Before I get into the next story about my #2 favorite Bass lure I’d like to give you a report of my first three days Smallie fishing on the Penobscot this spring.

The season started off very late due to the cold, ice and snow. I can usually start catching fish around the second week of April. This year it was the third week. The water temperature was 42.5 degrees when my fishing buddy Dave and I arrived at the boat launch. Screeching wind and cold air!  This spot winters over all the bigger Bass in this 5 mile section of river.  When the water reaches 39 degrees the Bass turn on and bite like mad.  All the fish are 15 inches or better (10 between 18 and 19 ¾ inches!) Once the water gets up around 50 degrees the fishing is still really good but the smaller ones move in and the average size goes way down. Then it’s one or two trophy fish in a day amongst a bunch or 12 to 15 inch fish. 

On Saturday we caught 51 Smallies in about 5 hours of fishing. Sunday we went back for 6 hrs. and caught 43. I skipped Monday and took a client up Tuesday and in 6 hrs we caught 71 Bass! So in a little over 17 hrs. we caught 165 big fat healthy Smallmouth Bass! We usually get around three weeks that this happens but this year it was two weeks. Mother Nature has a way to catch things up even after a wild winter!  Most were caught on those tubes I told you about in the previous story! I’m telling you folks...get some tubes and fish them the way I showed you. It’s a GREAT technique!

Ok....my next favorite lure are those soft rubber baits that look like fish.  Sluggo’s have the biggest name but I prefer Zoom Bass Assassins in a four or five inch size. (And yup you guessed it....get whatever color suits yer fancy! the fish don’t care!) The book says you have to use an enormous worm hook that you bury deep into the plastic ... seems to me you have a heck of a time getting a good hook set that way. You have to drive that hook through the plastic and then into the fishes mouth. 

I have a better way!!!!!  Smallmouth Bass are pure predators right? Well a bass doesn’t get to trophy size by being stupid. If a bass thought it was ok to hit a bait from the rear then they would’nt live very long. A bass hits a bait from the side, or more often right square on the head! If they tried to eat a perch, sunfish or any other stickle back type bait they would find the dorsal spines drove up into their throats wouldn’t they? They would swim  around for a while and then expire from the wounds or from starvation wouldn’t they? So why make it difficult by burying that hook? What I do is take a #4 hook (short shank bait hook or similar is fine) and hook that bait right in the head where the eyes would be, run it right through with the hook exposed.  Now you have a bait that when a bass hits he almost always hooks himself!  And the hook set is almost always right in the corner of the mouth!

As for how to fish it it’s very simple and it’s the only bait I can think of that you fish mostly on a slack line. But with the vicious hits you’ll get they really do hook themselves.  You throw it out and let it sink...ever so slowly it heads for bottom.....You wait, wait and then wait some more. After at least 15 seconds you give it a pop! Then you wait and wait again.....( if you are fishing shallow water keep it off the bottom...open hook remember?) You’ll find you’ll get a big belly in the line and you’ll be wondering what that nutcase Capt’ Pete got you into. But all of a sudden...BANG! Fish On! 

This technique has saved my bacon more times than I can count......Those days when they are being fussy they just can’t resist a wounded baitfish presentaion. The only thing that works better is real live minnows! If you are fishing in deep water take about a 4 or 6 penny finish nail and slide it into the head to just past the eye area to leave room for the hook.  That will give it enough weight to get it down there but won’t interfere with the action.

I want you to think in terms of a predator. All predators have some things in common and the biggest one is that they always look for something different .... something wounded .... something young and exposed .... you see what I’m getting at? These bass are genetically programmed to go after those things. What the bait is telling Mr. bass is " I’m sick...I’m hurt...I hope nothing tries to eat me." Then you give it a POP and that bait says "Nyaa, Nyaa...I’m ok...you can’t catch me." Then you let it drop again and he’s wounded....Have you ever watched a sick fish in an aquarium? That’s exactly how they act. So it seems to me that if you imitate something weak, sick, wounded etc....Then you’re going to have some fun aren’t ya? Even on days that they really aren’t into feeding much will be good days for you.  They just can’t help it.

Try this technique the next time they’re being fussy, you’ll be glad!  Next month we’ll talk more about the predator, prey relationship or as my good friend Captain Chuck Duggins once wrote "If you want to be a better bass fisherman....GET A CAT!!"

Tight lines! - Capt’ Pete
Next Fishing Tip: Better Bass Fishing - Lesson 4
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