CLASS­ROOM

Be­ing for­ever aware is one of the bass angler’s most valu­able traits. Con­di­tions are for­ever chang­ing and as these hap­pen so all fish re­act.

SA Bass - - Contents - >> Roger Don­ald­son*

“What the sea­son brings (Part 1)” Be­ing for­ever aware is one of the bass angler’s most valu­able traits. Con­di­tions are for­ever chang­ing and as these hap­pen so all fish re­act. At one mo­ment the weather is calm with not a breath of wind in sight and the next there is a bank of dark clouds ap­proach­ing and the wind and tem­per­a­tures de­velop and change – Roger Don­ald­son

At one mo­ment the weather is calm with not a breath of wind in sight and the next there is a bank of dark clouds ap­proach­ing and the wind and tem­per­a­tures de­velop and change. Be­ing cog­nisant of these will help you de­velop your pro­fi­ciency as an angler and es­pe­cially around the spring months.

Un­like all other sea­sons of the year the spring time presents some ex­cit­ing, yet very test­ing op­por­tu­nity for the bass fish­er­man. At ev­ery other time of the year you would be most likely to find bass lo­cat­ing to struc­tures where they can hunt down or am­bush their prey. You’re fish­ing for these spec­tac­u­lar op­por­tunis­tic preda­tors which are ut­terly fo­cused on food. If you present a lure which re­motely re­sem­bles the food they are cur­rently feed­ing on then the chances of suc­cess­fully land­ing the bass are very good. How­ever, this is not so much the case in the early sea­son.

Bass be­come quite ter­ri­to­rial about the ar­eas they have cho­sen now. They are not feed­ing, but rather pro­tect­ing ar­eas from po­ten­tial preda­tory fish, pro­tect­ing nest­ing sites and pro­tect­ing their cho­sen part­ners, as well as keep­ing their bed­ding ar­eas clear of mat­ter and de­struc­tive ob­jects. Hu­mans may use all kinds of tools to help them with these tasks. How­ever, the only pos­si­ble way bass can do this is with their mouths.

At this time bass will be very se­lec­tive about how they re­act to your lure and as we touched on ear­lier, it will not be for rea­sons of feed­ing or hunger, but rather as a pro­tec­tion, or shield­ing mech­a­nism. De­tect­ing and re­act­ing to a bite will be that much more chal­leng­ing for the angler. In­stead of en­gulf­ing the lure bass will be more in­clined to “mouth” the bait, move it away only slightly, and then ex­pel it quite quickly, al­most in­stan­ta­neously. Be­cause of this you’ll need to pre­pare ad­e­quately in terms of your bait and tackle and also your “tim­ing”.

Bait se­lec­tion

This could pos­si­bly be your best chance to get some im­pres­sive strikes on a jerk­bait, not only be­cause big fish abound, but also be­cause the lure im­parts such an er­ratic im­pos­ing ac­tion. I re­mem­ber a day on Rust der Win­ter dam when I had for­got­ten to loosen my reel drag. I was ag­gres­sively re­triev­ing/jerk­ing my lure back to the boat when the rod loaded and the fish pulled vi­o­lently down­ward as it dived deeply, shak­ing its head while my rod stretched per­fectly straight and the ten­sion di­rected solely on my drag the hooks on the lure. Within sec­ond of the fight the fish tore free. Clearly a siz­able one is all I could say sad­dened to not be so promptly re­jected of the op­por­tu­nity to marvel over my ad­ver­sary.

Nev­er­the­less, the jerk­bait is a clear win­ner when it comes to scratch­ing through ar­eas look­ing for ac­tiv­ity. They cover wa­ter quickly, ex­cept you re­ally need to be will­ing to put in some ef­fort with your re­trieve and into keep­ing the lure away from get­ting snagged. At R150 to R250 a piece this could be­come ex­pen­sive.

Crankbaits will work in pretty much the same way as you re­trieve them across ex­panses of wa­ter look­ing to nail down ar­eas of con­fi­dence. I thor­oughly enjoy “feel­ing” my way be­neath the sur­face with these lures, re­triev­ing and wait­ing ex­pect­edly for a fish to en­gulf the lure.

Early sea­son bass, and cer­tainly in be­tween the phases of full moon will hang “loosely” around ar­eas while they hone in to a cho­sen spot to spawn and make final their des­tiny. Please con­sider though that not all the bass will spawn at the same time. Those that match the most ap­pro­pri­ate area and con­di­tions will at­tempt to spawn and those that don’t will hold back un­til they have man­aged to se­lect the time suited to them. This may be on the next full moon if the weather con­di­tions pro­mote it. Oth­er­wise the bass may choose to move away and mi­grate to source al­ter­na­tive ar­eas within the fish­ery, where tem­per­a­tures, wa­ter con­di­tions, sub­strate, cur­rent, hu­man in­ter­fer­ence, and a host of other po­ten­tial fac­tors may in­flu­ence their choice more pos­i­tively. This may very well be two, or even three months down the line. So don’t think that be­cause you missed one bed­ding op­por­tu­nity that you need to wait an­other year.

The sea­son brings an ex­tended pe­riod of op­por­tu­nity to tar­get bass and an­glers will need to stay in tune with all the con­di­tions af­fect­ing the fish at this sen­si­tive time in or­der to ca­p­atilise on op­por­tu­ni­ties to find them.

In the next part of the se­ries we will look at al­ter­na­tive bait op­tions to tar­get bass as the sea­son pro­gresses.

*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 his ex­per­tise with fel­low bass fa­nat­ics in the hope that they find the same joy in this unique sport.

Search baits in­clud­ing both jerk­baits and crankbaits, large and small are ex­cel­lent lures for find­ing ac­tiv­ity in the early sea­son

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