Catching Giant Largemouth Bass on my Local Waters in Northern Idaho
If you’re like me, you have read countless articles written by professional anglers, accomplished tournament competitors, and guides that discuss tactics for catching Largemouth Bass. They contain a wealth of information about techniques that can help us locate and catch our quarry. The problem is that some of us do not have the state of the art equipment, or the presentation skills that are necessary to replicate their methods. That’s why it might be worth your time to listen to a dedicated but quite average Bass fisherman like myself.
What I’m about to share is more of a mindset than it’s a specific technique that could help you catch the biggest Bass of your life. The beauty of what I will share with you is that you do not need high dollar equipment or crazy good skills to make this work for you.
I stumbled onto this a few years back in late October on my local waters here in Northern Idaho. I had been having some success pitching Texas-rigged Sweet Beavers to submerged trees on my previous outings so that was my game plan for the day.
There are numerous small, river-connected lakes dotting the landscape in the Pacific Northwest. Bodies of water such as these are my comfort zone. In the summer they contain huge weed beds and the Bass are spread out which can make locating them a challenge.
In fall the lake drawdown begins and this coupled with cooler temperatures will pull the Bass to the outside edge of the weeds or to steep breaking rocky shorelines where crayfish provide a rich source of nutrients.
On this particular morning, a cold front had moved through and the air temperature was well below freezing. Since the lake that I had planned to fish was several miles away from where I had launched and I had forgotten my gloves I called an audible and decided to fish a lake closer to the launch until it warmed up a little.
This lake did not have the submerged wood near deep water that had been producing for me. There was a low fog over the area and a very cold breeze out of the east so I chose a location that would give me shelter from the wind.
This spot had a rocky bottom and a steep break that quickly dropped to about 18 feet of water. The area was only about 100 yards long. To be honest, I didn’t expect it to produce very much but at least I could keep a bait wet while I waited for it to warm up a little. The water temperature was 48 degrees and the fall drawdown was in full swing so I reasoned that the Bass could be positioned on the steeper breaking banks.
I idled to the spot and decided to throw the Beaver because my hands were too cold to tie on a new bait. I was casting up to the shallow water near the bank and working it down the break. I was dragging the Beaver along the rocky bottom and stopping it each time it came to a rock which was about every foot or less.
The longer I fished the longer I paused my bait because I was holding the rod in the crook of my arm and jamming my hands into my pockets frequently during the retrieve to warm them up.
I had been fishing for about 40 minutes and as I pulled my hands out of my pocket and lifted my rod to take the slack out of my line, immediately I noticed that my bait was not where I had left it.
I reeled down and as soon as I felt weight I set the hook and boated a nice Bass over 5lbs. Now, this spot had my attention. A little while later I boated a 7.5lbr. (Now keep in mind, these are Northern Strain Largemouth Bass.)
The fog had still not lifted so it was not warming up much. I decided to camp on this spot for the rest of the day to see what it would produce. By the end of the day, I had caught 9 Bass. Five were over 5lbs to include one over 6lbs and one over 7lbs. The smallest was in the 2lb class.
I had learned that fishing ridiculously slow and committing to one spot that corresponds to the seasonal pattern and weather conditions can pay huge dividends when it comes to catching some of the largest Bass that swim in your waters.
Not long after this trip ice prevented me from accessing this area again but in three trips I had caught 4 Bass over 7lbs at the same location using this technique. If you consider the fact that I had been Bass fishing seriously for over twenty years prior to this day and I had only caught one Bass over 7lbs this was quite a revelation.
The technique is quite simple. I positioned my boat about ten feet from the break line over about 18’ of water and made casts to the bank. After I had reeled up the slack line I would lift and jiggle the rod just enough to move the bait over a rock and let it glide to the next rock. I would let the bait sit for about 10 to 20 seconds gently shaking it on occasion and then move it to the next rock.
It’s important to fish the bait on the bottom of the break and a little beyond. I used a 4.20 green pumpkin Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver Texas rigged with a 1/2oz tungsten sinker on a 4.0 Trokar straight shanked hook with a bait holder.
My rod was a 7’ 2” heavy action Shimano Compre with a 6.25 Shimano Curado reel spooled with 20# Berkley 100% fluorocarbon line. The bites tend to be extremely subtle.
I learned to lift my rod to tighten the line every time my bait stopped moving and feel for some kind of life on the end of the line. It was almost impossible to distinguish a bite from contact with a rock without doing this.
They would usually just suck the bait in and sit there but occasionally they would start slowly swimming with it so you need to watch your line. You also need to pay attention to bottom contact.
If you can’t feel your weight on the bottom a Bass may have it in his mouth and is swimming toward you. In my experience, the optimum water temperature for this technique is between 52 degrees and 45 degrees. I have caught some Bass in the colder water doing this but for some reason, they tend to be smaller. I have no reason to believe that this technique would not work with other similar baits if they are fished the same way.
The most important thing that I learned that day about catching giant Largemouth Bass is what I call the three P’s Patience, Persistence, and Positivity. I’m glad that I forgot my gloves that morning because it taught me a valuable lesson with regard to the behavior of big Bass. When you think you have thoroughly fished an area you probably haven’t and if you think you are fishing really slow you probably aren’t.
The challenge is to ignore that inner voice that is telling you to try another spot. It’s painful to fish this slowly but it can pay big dividends.
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Thank you, Clint for taking the time to share your experience with us!