To the back of creeks and churn the wa­ter as they gorge them­selves be­fore the up­com­ing

SA Bass - - >> Sa Bass - >> Neels Beneke

You can catch a lot of bass a lot of dif­fer­ent ways. With so many op­tions, choos­ing can be over­whelm­ing but with the cur­rent drought sit­u­a­tion we fac­ing at the mo­ment, this cer­tainly throws a “span­ner in the works”. So how do you go about ap­proach­ing a low wa­ter level and highly pressured dam?

I be­lieve this four point step is the most re­li­able method to put you on the money.

Bait­fish

“To un­der­stand the owl, study the mouse”, quoted US bass pro Rick Clunn. This is so true in lo­cat­ing bass. It is im­por­tant to know what the bait­fish are do­ing be­cause if you can lo­cate the bait­fish, you will find the bass. It’s un­for­tu­nate today that most an­glers have the mis­con­cep­tion that weather is the cause for most of bass be­hav­iour, but ac­tu­ally it’s the bait­fish. “Study the mouse to see what makes the owl tick”, there­fore study the bass food- bait­fish. Bass fol­low the bait and thus most of bass move­ments are due to the bait be­hav­iour un­der the cer­tain weather cir­cum­stances. Yes, weather af­fects the ac­tiv­ity level of bass but they will al­ways be in close prox­im­ity of their food, and its main course meal is bait­fish.

If you want to dial in to bass, re­search the bait. Get to know what species are in the given dam, their habits, move­ments, be­hav­iour and spawn­ing pe­ri­ods, etc. (Great in­for­ma­tion on bass prey can be found on the SA Bass web­site - Ed).

Match the hatch is an im­por­tant rule of thumb. Al­ways be sure to match your lure size to the bait the bass is zon­ing on. A good pair of po­lar­ized sun­glasses can be a valu­able ac­ces­sory.

Con­tour breaks

By gen­eral lack of shore­line veg­e­ta­tion, con­tour break lines plays a big­ger role. A con­tour break line is a per­cep­ti­ble change in the bot­tom con­tour, it can be any­thing from a sharp 6ft drop to a sub­tle slop­ing ridge or a 3ft drop in min­ing ditches found com­monly in Zim­babwe lakes. Whichever form of break line it is, bass use these as mi­grat­ing routes fol­low­ing bait to the back of the bays or creeks. Find­ing con­tour breaks next to large flats can be ex­cel­lent ar­eas to start. Oth­er­wise start from the point of a bay and work your way down to the back of the bay and lo­cate where they are.

Bass form “lit­tle wolf packs” this time of the year, bunch­ing up and cruis­ing the shal­lows. They seem more ori­en­tated on the bait­fish than cover in au­tumn. If you can in­ter­cept the bait and mi­grat­ing routes in a bay, you will find bass. Iso­lated cover, stumps, lay-downs, etc. is per­fect pit stops along these routes, so be sure to make a cast.

A per­sonal suc­cess­ful tech­nique is small crankbait crank­ing. Cranks diving to depths of 12ft can be pur­chased, get a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent depth diving baits to cover all depths of con­tour breaks un­der 12ft, I wouldn’t go deeper than 12ft.

Tim­ing

If there’s one as­pect of fishing the trio combo of break lines, bait and ad­ja­cent flats, it is tim­ing. Tim­ing is ev­ery­thing and this re­quires an at­tribute that an­gler’s lack­per­sis­tence!

To find a pro­duc­tive area is just the first hur­dle, but the will­ing­ness to re­turn to an area sev­eral times a day is what sep­a­rates the av­er­age from bet­ter. A few fac­tors like wind, cur­rent or what­ever it may be can ac­ti­vate those bass and that’s when you want to be right in the midst of the ac­tion as the “lit­tle wolf packs” bust in on the flip­ping bait­fish. You have to be will­ing to keep at it un­til you hit it right even when it means re­vis­it­ing ar­eas a few times a day. It be­comes a whole lot eas­ier to fig­ure things out once a place turns on.

Con­fi­dence

“We all know that bass fishing is not all phys­i­cal, but 80% men­tal”, as bass pro Kevin VanDam said on an in­ter­view I once watched. The men­tal as­pect of bass fishing might not seem im­por­tant to some, but I’m sure most of us can re­fer back to a time when you re­alised it does. May it have been fishing your lo­cal di­vi­sional tour­na­ment with

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