This story is brought to you by my good friend and trophy bass hunter Colby Pearson. This young man has more passion for bass fishing then anyone iv ever met. In the Northwest where we live bass fishing isnt quite like other parts of the country, its the step child to Trout, Salmon and Steelhead. I’m not gonna say bass fishing isnt good out here because some places out here is impeccable namely the Umpqua and John Day for Smallies. I’m just gonna get to his story. This fish was caught the beginning of March which is cold water fishing for warm water fish, go figure… lol
All last week I tried to fish, got out Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Something very interesting happens in later Winter/early Spring, in some waters with significant Northern bank access within this state. Fish get shallow. Every February/March for the last few years it seems like the state receives an unusually warm trend for about a week, for many of us, that was last week.
Noting the high on Friday to be in the 60′s, a 10-20 degree difference between most days as of recent, I was on cue for this interesting movement of fish that I’m willing to bet, that most people don’t even know about. I spend Tues & Thurs, observing what I could…Water clarity, quality, movement, what banks received sun and when.
Determining where I needed to be and at what time, I focused my morning waiting above a submerged ledge on Friday. The ledge crests in about 7′, but slopes down to 19-20′, key observations of this ledge included its general position, not only within the reservoir, but in relation to the sun. After an hour I see a fish move up, around 2.5#, I don’t cast at it, but it gives me a restored sense of purpose. The day slowly begins to wind past noon and I adjust my position setting myself on another ledge faced in the opposite corner, NE.
NE corner receives significantly more sun, especially in the noon hours. Like the first spot, I wait hours. Finally around 5pm, I see a black shadow pull up to the crest of the ledge and sit there motionless. Noting this fishes demeanor and activity level, I know it is simply up to sun and progress digesting faster. Watching this fish, I pitch to it and it slowly, passively dissipates from view. It was probably an 8+lbr.
When trophy hunting in the Winter, seeing your quarry can be a dead give away if you can interpret that fishes future movements in relation to coming/going weather patterns.
Many anglers would have thought they had blown their shot right then and there. I get home and get ready for the next day, I know that fish is entirely catch-able and will make one of two moves- it would either push down the ledge positioning itself immediately below on structure elements in the general vicinity, or it would push up even further given ample weather Saturday.
Saturday morning I arrive, see nothing in a significant amount of time, I wait all day.
Finally slightly before I saw the fish the day prior, I see a fish accompanied by two smaller but respectable fish (4&5lbs). The fish was seen two days in a row during the same time frame, a valuable observation shedding light to the hypothesis, that trophy fish are active during specific windows thru-ought the day. Ironic the fish was seen two days in a row during the same time frame?
Judging that fishes activity level I see its still super lethargic and just hovering slowly like a ghost in the late afternoon sun. I back off, rig and come back to watch. Finally as the day dwindles and I can barely see in the water, the fish moves, slightly faster than previously noted and toward a visible cover element, and ambush point via a point.
Seeing that finally the fish has shifted into a neutral mood, my presentation comes into play. Recognize that fish fish is not in a feeding or aggressive mood, but as the angler I see its my opportunity to present my bait in a manner that appeals to the bass’ senses and predatory habits I visualize that bass’ path toward the point, placing my bait on the eastern slope out of sight I begin slow rolling my swimbait…….nothing.
Adjusting the cast I cast over the point on the western slope, assuming the fish held on the point corresponding with the depth it was cruising my cast subsequently will place my bait on the crest of the point at around the same point the fish is sitting.
Slow roll, as the bait comes to the crest of the point I slightly hesitate the reel and an ever so slight pop then wind, the second my imparted action ceases, THUMP.
I recall David Dudley once stating something along the lines of.”I try to gather enough information from each catch to write a 1 page write up about the observations regarding that catch”..I truly think that if we all used similar tactics we would become better anglers.
I personally kept a complete log of fish over 5lbs I caught in 2012 from public waters (46), including moon phase, time, spot/setup/ bait etc…It’s a truly valuable document because even with that relatively small # of upper class fish I notice real tangible patterns, and I don’t meant tournament style patterns.
The fish ate a custom rigged swimbait I use to specifically catch giant fish in this type of scenario, I wont go into detail as to what the exact rigging is, dont want to over analyze bait rigging, hehe.
I truly believe this fish would not have eaten another bait no matter how it was presented in the time windows I viewed the fish, no…not even a senko. Not even a similar swimbait, end of story.
Here is the fish:
I hope the time it took to write this story was worthwhile and I can change at-least one persons mind set when thinking about bass and giving them credibility. There’s a lot of big fish to be caught in this state that simply aren’t even believed to exist. They are there.
Big thanks to Colby for putting this on here for me! Look forward to more guest writers on my blog and other good stuff!