Largemouth bass are creatures of habit. These fish do the same things over and over, year after year, and usually at the same location on a given lake.
One thing they do is go into an inactive period. We call it the “post-spawn blues.” Normally, they will suspend off points or over submerged structure such as humps, islands, brush piles and points. Points are probably the most common, especially on large reservoirs. In smaller impoundments, they will hang over drop offs along creek channels. Almost-vertical drop offs are favorite haunts for these bass. And the best thing of all is they huddle up according to size. Big five pounders … nothing but a few or maybe a dozen will hover over a drop off and just hang there, doing just about nothing. They just finished spawning, so I guess this is a time to regroup, clear the head and make a plan for the upcoming hot summer months. One thing is certain: They ain’t bitin’!!! And that’s a fact, Jack.
But all problems have a solution. Only enigmas have no solutions. So here is a trick that my old buddy Homer Circle (the former senior editor for Sports Afield) taught me. Get ya’ a baby bass crankbait. Let’s say like a Bomber 3A. Not too small, and not too large. Definitely not large. Use some 12-lb. test monofilament. The thinner, the better to reduce line resistance against the water. A nice 6-ft. baitcasting rig will work perfectly. Drink some energy drink … you’ll need it.
Position your boat parallel to the channel or the point and just sit for a few minutes so the bass hanging around will acclimate to your presence. After a wait, make a long cast parallel to the drop off or the point, and crank that baby back as fast as you can crank it!!! I mean burn the water with that crankbait. Do this over and over. I know it hurts, baby … but this is the solution to the problem. After about 10 casts, move about 20 feet and start over with the long casts and the fast retrieve. Keep this up until you get a strike … and you will get a strike!!
The strike is hard to detect, for the bass often swims right up behind the bait and takes it that way, or the bass will swim along with the bait and then turn on it and dive down with the lure. Either way, they are hard to detect. Oh yeah … and then they change directions as they take the lure, your reel handle just stops. Set the hook!
The first time I tried this, I was not exactly without some doubt, but I will try anything once. I positioned my boat parallel to a creek channel -- the edge of the channel was covered in milfoil, but all that aside, a perfect ambush hiding place for a few bass. I cranked as hard as I could several casts, and then the bait stopped and the fish dove straight down with the bait. Remember the bait is moving really fast and the bass catches up to it and dives with it. That was quite a battle, but I won as the bass dove under the boat and I am trying to catch up to the fish … the bass weighed just short of five pounds.
With one down, I went after another. I was excited that the first fish weighed so much. That meant there was a good chance I was sitting over a large number of big bass. I caught another in about five minutes that weighed less than four pounds … then one about three. I had hopes of a giant lunker that were slipping fast.
Then I made a long cast and ripped the crankbait a few yards, and then the line went limp. I looked down, and the line was slicing through the water well ahead of my retrieve. I tried to set the hook but there was too much slack in the line from the bass swimming with the bait. Then … she rose upwards and broke water. The Bomber Baby Bass flew up in the air, and a huge largemouth bass came out of the water … and fell back in the lake.
She was heavy enough that the guys fishing on the shore heard the splash and looked up, and those guys were 100 yards away. That bass weighed at least 10-12 pounds. I was thrilled. Didn’t get to catch the bass or keep the bass, but I did get to see the fish. And sometimes, that is enough. Thereafter this ripping the crankbait was a standard technique for me in post-spawn conditions. It has never failed me yet. (And my right arm is much stronger for it now! LOL.)
Try it soon. It is the perfect season for it until late June, when the temperatures soar and the shad hatch is peaking out.
Good fishin’ to ya!
by Jimmy Houston