Sum­mer

SA Bass - - Sa Bass / Master Cclass - >> Roger Don­ald­son* *Roger Don­ald­son is an ex­pe­ri­enced jour­nal­ist and knowl­edge­able bass an­gler who has en­joyed many en­light­en­ing hours with many of South Africa’s top, com­pet­i­tive bass fish­er­men. As a com­pet­i­tive an­gler him­self, he also en­joys shar­ing h

Ithor­oughly en­joy what bass fish­ing of­fers in the peak of sum­mer. The en­tire fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is so much more in­tense; the fresh air be­fore sun­rise af­ter a night of thun­der­storms, the pied, gi­ant and mala­chite king­fisher’s dart­ing into the shal­lows to retrieve the boun­ti­ful ar­ray of fish from the re­cent spawn, fin­ger­ling bass dart­ing along the banks en­joy­ing the abun­dant in­sect life, and the odd bust­ing of a larger bass tak­ing ad­van­tage of the sprawl­ing growth in am­phibi­ous and other aquatic life that is syn­ony­mous with sum­mer­time.

I believe this is the best time of year to get those po­larised sun­glasses out and hit the shal­lows. Po­larised lenses re­move the glare from the wa­ter sur­face and will give you the ad­van­tage of be­ing able to ‘sight fish’ for bass. This on its own is great fun and you can even spot bass up to a full cast­ing length away. These shal­low ar­eas will be team­ing with life as the wa­ter tem­per­a­tures have now warmed up suf­fi­ciently enough to sup­port the ac­tiv­ity of the small­est aquatic or­gan­isms which in turn at­tract the larger ones.

I de­cided to split this se­ries into two parts, as there can be two vastly dif­fer­ent strate­gies to prac­tice in the warmer months. One of them will be su­per shal­low fish­ing, and the other will be deep wa­ter tac­tics.

For those of you who have yet to try your hand at top wa­ter fish­ing, this will be the time to use it. Bass are the ul­ti­mate op­por­tunists and there is noth­ing quite like a top wa­ter lure that’ll put a lit­tle swag­ger into a bass’ in­ter­est. But where do you go look­ing, is it just any­where in the shal­lows? Cer­tainly not. Bass are still in­cred­i­bly mind­ful of the dan­gers that shal­low wa­ters present to them. They too have prey. Take the leg­endary fish ea­gle as an ex­am­ple. You wouldn’t want to be a bass cruis­ing the shal­lows in open sight if there was a rap­tor cir­cling above you with the cun­ning abil­ity and agility to swoop in un­no­ticed to pluck you from the wa­ter like a sit­ting duck.

So what do bass do to be in­con­spic­u­ous yet still be able to move through the shal­low look­ing for prey? Bass will use what­ever cover is avail­able; lily pads, mat­ted, flooded grass, brush piles and sunken trees, as well as boat docks and over hang­ing trees. Many an­glers are not con­vinced that these ar­eas can be fished very eas­ily as there is too much chance to get snagged in all that struc­ture. This is why I specif­i­cally chose this type of lure to make hay in the shal­lows – the top wa­ter frog!

The va­ri­ety of frogs avail­able is now vast in terms of colour, shape, size, and swim­ming ac­tion. The largest com­mon ad­van­tage of these lures though is their abil­ity not to get snagged up in the heavy cover that you’ll need to be tar­get­ing to find your bass. And believe me when I say it – the bass will of­ten be hid­ing in the deep­est, thick­est part of the cover to keep away from preda­tors and to am­bush their prey.

Here are a few ideas to think about be­fore choos­ing which frog you’re go­ing to rig up with.

I’m go­ing to ven­ture and say that apart from the SPRO frog the Horny Toad and Fight­ing Frog are prob­a­bly the most widely used frogs of the lot. They can be rigged quickly and fished on a fairly quick retrieve to keep them kick­ing across the sur­face of the wa­ter. As long as those lit­tle legs are bub­bling across the wa­ter, froth­ing up a trail of bub­bles in their wake you’ll be sure to have the at­ten­tion of a bass in no time at all.

Key fac­tors to re­mem­ber though are that the above frog lures should be fished on the cor­rect tackle. To make sure the lure im­parts the kick­ing ac­tion re­quired you will need use a line that does not sink. There­fore, an­glers choose be­tween monofil­a­ment and braided line for this pur­pose. They won’t sink below the sur­face and de­stroy the ac­tion of the bait.

On the con­trary, you will come across ar­eas where there are gaps/holes in the lily pads, or ar­eas that you are tar­get­ing. These frogs nat­u­rally will sink if you stop your retrieve and this is a great op­por­tu­nity to let the lure swim down into these holes. But hold on tight and watch your line care­fully for any po­ten­tial bite.

Once the fish does bite you’ll need the ad­van­tage of a rod with ex­cel­lent back bone, or the abil­ity to both set the hook and to haul the bass away from div­ing deeper into the cover. Haul and reel fast to get the bass’ head up and swim­ming across the top of the wa­ter as quickly as pos­si­ble.

Do your­self a favour this sum­mer; pack in a cou­ple a toads and head out to your cho­sen fish­ing hole with the pur­pose­ful in­tent of tap­ping into all those heav­ily cov­ered shal­low ar­eas and see what jew­els you’ll find hid­ing there! I can guar­an­tee you’ll very pleas­antly sur­prised.

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