Ron’s Fishing Tips and Stories: Smell the Bass?
This week we are going to talk about how to find black bass on a lake here in the USA. If you are bass fishing Mexico you don’t need to find the bass as the local guide will find them for you. Some clients make the mistake of trying to tell the Mexican guides where to fish. That’s a big NO NO.
The big challenge in being successful when fishing for black bass is actually locating the bass. Catching them is only a small part of the challenge. We have four distinct weather seasons here in the US that affect where the bass are going to be located during each season. These locations are determined by several factors such as water temperature, water clarity, water level, oxygen levels, etc. All these variables affect the bait fish and where THEY are located. Be sure… when you find the bait fish you will find the bass.
Bass are predators and are never far from the schools of bait fish, just like the predators in Africa. Lions are never far from the wild herds of animals they feed upon. As these wild herds migrate from region to region the predators migrate with them. Bass will do the same thing except for the one time of the year when they are not thinking of food, and that’s during the spawning time.
Today I want to keep this process of finding bass pretty simple as I could go into much more detail which would spiderweb into so many variables it would take me hours to cover. Today I will stay on the simple side to make it easier to understand.
I draw upon my 64 years of actually catching bass as I caught my first bass at age 5 from an old dead creek that is now covered by Richland Creek Lake. I was raised in a bass fishing family and taught by my granddad Bunk Layfield and his brother Jester Layfield. Jester was a master bass fisherman dating all the way back to the 1930s. He manufactured bass lures for years in Tyler, Texas under the name Sunny Brook Lure company. His lures are on display at the freshwater fisheries center in Athens, Texas.
Along the way I also learned to locate bass from Ralph Geesow, a young guide on a young lake called Sam Rayburn. Ralph was a Yankee from up north but he was the very best man I ever knew at finding bass. One day we were fishing on Toledo Bend Lake. We were in running wide open after we left Fin & Feather Marina and were close to the mouth of Housen Bayou when Ralph came to a stop. He asked me if I smelled fish. I sniffed like one of my bird-dogs and told him “No, I don’t smell anything.” I put the troller in the water and his first cast produced a fiesty 2 lb black. We went on to catch our two man limit, totaling 30 bass. This seemed like an incredible feat then, but I later learned it was not so incredible. Ralph had smelled a HUGE school of threadfin shad and knew there would be a school of blacks nearby. We called them schoolies back in those days as they very seldom were over 2 lb bass in the school.
Another important bass locater that I learned from was Dave Hawk. Dave had guided in Arkansas and in Alaska, then moved to Texas close to Austin and finally settled on Lake Hidalgo in Mexico. Dave was a master at locating bass and he lived by the NATURAL APPROACH to finding and catching black bass. There were many, many people that I learned from over the years and a few things that this dumb ass figured out on his own.
Today I want to just list a few places you want to keep in mind when looking for black bass. The dam of a lake can hold a lot of bass, especially if it has concrete riprap. The concrete will produce algae which attracts bait fish and then here come the bass! Actually any place on a lake that has concrete riprap can be a great place to locate bass. Another place that attracts bass is willow trees, especially if they have some fairly deep water close to them. Willows attract a ton of insects, spiders, lizards, frogs etc. It is like a Christmas tree loaded with goodies for the bass. The wind blows the insects into the water where the fish dine on them. Remember to fish the willows on the calm bank in the AM and the windy bank willows in the PM. In fact this rule applies to all bass fishing places. Look for those windy banks in the PM.
Another place to locate bass is on main lake points as these serve as great ambush places for bass. All lakes will have some kind of points and many times you can find bass close by all year.
Other good places to locate bass are:
1. pond dams
3. old roads
4. old homeplaces
6. hydrilla beds
7. old fence rows
8. any creek or river
9. abandoned oil drilling pads
10. boat houses and piers
Always remember that things that are green in color and are in the water can be good places to look for bass.
I have listed just a few places that can be good places to check for bass but there are many more places that can hold bass. The places I listed above can be good at certain times of the year depending on the season and the water conditions.
Hopefully my tips this week will give you a few ideas when you go fishing the next time.
Good luck with your fishing and wear that lifejacket.