Category Archives: Bass Fishing

Bass Fishing Information

Tennessee BASS Nation High School State Championship

Capt Jake Davis
State Advisor/State Tournament Coordinator
615.613.2382

Tims Ford Lake, Winchester, TN. (May 13, 2017) – Lenoir City High School’s Jacob Woods and Austin Winter who took down the 2016-17 State Championship on Tims Ford Lake with 28.87 pounds!! Woods and Winter bested a field of 124 High School Teams from across 22 Tennessee High Schools in the Tennessee BASS Nation High School State Championship held this past weekend in Winchester, TN.

Rounding out the top ten teams was Second Place Bailey Fain, Lenior City with 26.38, Third Place Case Anderson/Grant Hodosi, Grundy County with 23.46, Fourth Place Kyle Ingleburger/Kyle Palmer, Grundy County with 22.63, Fifth Place Chase Cantrell/Nathan Powell, Whitwell High with 22.53, Sixth Place Asa Robertson/Blake Delong, Warren County with 21.55, Seventh Place Thomas Sanders/Caston Hensel, Summit High with 21.02, Eight Place Harry James/Trip Costello, Franklin High with 20.86, Ninth Place Hunter Haley/Garrett Fellers, Coffee County with 20.71 and Tenth Place Jon-David Bedford/Ty Cobb, Lawrence County with 20.51 pounds.

Kyle Ingleburger/Kyle Palmer of Grundy County High School earned distinctive honors as the 2016-2017 Tennessee BASS Nation High School Points Champions with 589 points for the season and just edging out Jacob Woods/Austin Winter from Lenoir City who had 580 points. Also the top 25 teams in the points race for the year earned invitations to the 2017 BASS Nation National Championship to be held on Kentucky Lake in June.

The Tennessee BASS Nation High School Trail in 2016-2017 also established a formal scholarship in addition to the tournament scholarships which are good for any higher education. They turned to Mrs. Beth Cragar, the Dean of Financial Aid, and her staff at University of the South to complete a non-partisan review of all applications. TN State Rep. David Alexander, Thom Abraham from BASS Master Radio, David Lowrie and MS. Beth Cragar presented Baily Fain of Lenoir City with a $1000 scholarship, receiving $500 Scholarships was Kyle Ingleburger of Grundy County (attends Franklin County High School), William Schibig, Gallatin High School and Trevor St. John of Campbell County High School.

David Lowrie, TN BASS Nation High School and youth State Director, stated qualifying teams competed for just over $20,000 in scholarships and prizes, which are completely funded by trail sponsors such as Academy Sports + Outdoors, Citizens Tri-County Bank, Lowrance Electronics, Denali Rods, Shimano Reels, Jackall Baits, John Roberts Toyota, John Roberts Nissan, Mountain DEW and many others. “I also want to thank the City of Winchester, Thom Abraham host of BASS Master Radio, TN Rep David Alexander, Winchester City Cile Alexander, Beth Rhoton the Winchester City Administrator and Captain Jake Davis, Tennessee BASS Nation High School State Tournament Coordinator/Advisor,” stated Lowrie More information can be found at www.tnhsbasstrail.com

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Jake Davis, State Advisor/State Tournament Coordinator

Fishing Pickwick Lake with Shane Cox

Last Wednesday morning I got up at 2:15 AM and drove to Iuka, Mississippi to meet Shane Cox, owner of Hammer Rods, to “do research” for a June Map of the Month Alabama Outdoor News article on Pickwick Lake. Pickwick is a big Tennessee River lake mostly in Alabama but its dam is in Mississippi and the north shore there is in Tennessee in that area.

It is as far north and west as you can go in Alabama. The six-hour drive is the longest one I do for any articles. I have driven it both ways and fished during the day in the past but I think those days are over! On my longest trip ever, a few years ago I met Karen Elkins at Neely Henry at 6:00 AM after driving for four hours. We fished until 9:00 that night – I was in the boat 15 hours – then had another four-hour drive home. That was my longest day, 23 hours!

Shane lives near Pickwick and is very good there. Week before last he had a five-bass limit weighing 30 pounds to win a local tournament. Pickwick produces a lot of big bass if you know how to catch them.

We ran to a river ledge where the bottom quickly dropped from 13 feet down to 30 feet deep. Shane kept the boat out over the deep water and we cast big crankbaits to the shallow water, cranking them down to bump the bottom. As they came off the bottom on the edge of the ledge, fish would hit it.

I was sitting in the bottom of the boat taking notes when he made his first cast. He said “look at that” and I looked as two three pound largemouth wallowed on top, both hook on his plug. Then he got excited and said there was a four pound smallmouth following the two hooked ones! Since I was sitting down I could not see it. One of the three pounders came off but he landed the other one.

That made me quickly grab my rod and start casting. Shane was using one of his rods made for throwing big crankbaits, a 7 foot, 11 inch model. He could throw a crankbait about half again as far as I could on my 6.5 foot rod. That helped him get his crankbait down deeper than I could get mine to go.

I did catch a three-pound largemouth and a two pound largemouth, but he landed seven or eight, including two close to six pounds each and several more in the four pound range. His best five would have weighed about 25 pounds, one of the best limits I have ever seen caught in person.

The original plan was to run to his tournament hole and catch a couple of bass for pictures then go look at ten similar spots to put on the map. We stayed longer because Shane wanted to catch that smallmouth!

After a few hours of looking at the spots and me taking notes while he fished and caught several more three-pound bass, we finished up on hole ten. As I completed my notes on it Shane caught a hybrid. I got up and started casting but this ledge was deeper and I could not get my crankbait to run deep enough, so Shane let me use his rod. I had thought maybe it was his skill that allowed him to make longer casts, but I found with his rod I could cast just as far.

Shane caught another hybrid and a two-pound largemouth on a swimbait and I did not get a bite. I quickly get worn out cranking a big plug and Shane felt sorry for me and swapped rods. A swimbait is easy to fish, you cast it out and reel it in with little resistance. This pattern was let it hit bottom then start reeling and I managed to hang his bait and lose it.

Rather than lose any more of his baits I dug around in my tackle box and found a three-quarters ounce football head jig. I carry a small box with some tackle in it, mostly stuff I usually don’t use, on these trips. That jig has been in there for years and I have never caught a bass on a football head jig,

The first cast I made I let the jig hit bottom in 18 feet of water and drug it to the drop. As it started falling I felt a thump and set the hook and landed a three-pound largemouth. I did that on the next three cast in a row, then went three cast without a bite but caught my fifth fish in eight cast on the next one. All were three-pound fish so I had a five-fish limit weighing 15 pounds in less than 15 minutes.

I would love to do that in a club tournament!

I left Pickwick at 3:30 PM and headed home, thinking I might be able to drive all the way. But after turning west rather than east onto I-20 in Birmingham, a turn I have made dozens of times coming home, I stopped just east of Birmingham and got a motel room for the night. I knew I was too tired to think straight.

Pickwick is a long way away but the fishing can be incredible!

Frustrating April Club Tournament at Clarks Hill

In April 1974 Jim Berry invited me to fish the Spalding County Sportsman Club April tournament at Clarks Hill, my first ever. Last weekend we fished our April tournament there. We have not missed many tournaments in April on that lake in 43 years.

The lake is different every year. Full last year, this year I watched a barn swallow scoop mud from the edge of the water to build its nest on a nearby bridge. Last year that birds head would have been under 8.3 feet of water. And for whatever reason the bigger bass bit much better last year.

In the tournament, 12 fishermen landed 88 keeper bass weighing about 160 pounds. And that includes four fishermen that left after one day since the weather guessers guessed at rain for Sunday. It did not rain a drop until after 8:00 that night. There were 15 five-bass limits and no one zeroed.

Raymond Edge landed 10 keepers weighing 21.39 pounds for first, Robert Proctor had ten weighing 18.53 for second, John Miller had ten at 18.04 for third and big fish with a 5.73 pounder, Sam Smith placed fourth with ten at 17.10 and my ten weighing 13.98 was fifth.

I went over on Wednesday afternoon and stayed at my place at Raysville Boat Club. The tournament was out of Mistletoe State Park, a 30-minute drive by land but less than ten minutes by boat if light enough to see. It was both mornings.

Wednesday afternoon I looked at some of my favorite places to fish and caught a couple of keepers, but nothing to be excited about in a tournament. Everyone I talked with said the herring and shad were spawning so then next morning I drove around to Cherokee Landing, about 20 minutes away and ten miles down the lake, and put in just as it got daylight.

It was very foggy but I wanted to idle around and look for herring and shad spawning, so I did. I found a few schools and caught a couple of bass, but again not what I expected. I never got a hit on topwater. And I did not expect to have to idle around until 10:30 when the fog finally lifted. But being able to get on plane did not help. I did not find anything worth fishing.

Friday morning I put in at the boat club and went up the river, a completely different kind of fishing, and had caught seven keepers by noon, but none weighed more than 1.5 pounds. Then, at noon under the blazing sun, I landed three bass over two pounds each on three consecutive points on a topwater plug. Then I caught a three pounder on a lizard on the next one. I thought I was on something.

Of course, in the tournament that did not work. I did catch five weighing 9.38 the first day, all after 10:00. Sunday I again did not have a fish at ten and managed to catch five weighing a whopping 4.6 pounds by noon, dropping from fourth the first day to fifth the second.

April has been a strange month for bass fishing. I hope May is better!

How much of a good thing is too much?

How much of a good thing is too much? As of today, April 2, I have been on the lake in a bass boat nine of twelve days, from Hartwell on the Georgia/South Carolina line to West Point on the Georgia/Alabama line, then back to Hartwell, then Lay Lake in Alabama Friday and Jackson here today. Today we are fishing the Sportsman Club tournament on Oconee.

The Georgia Bass Chapter Federation Top Six was at Hartwell Monday and Tuesday, so I went over last Wed and camped two nights, fishing Hartwell Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday. Friday morning I got up and drove to West Point, all the way across the state, right through downtown Atlanta, to practice for a Potato Creek Bassmasters Classis Saturday.

After spending the night at home Friday night I fished West Point Saturday and after that tournament Niles Murray, Raymond English and I headed cross state to Hartwell They were both on the Top Six Team.

I slept in Sunday and then went to the drawing for the tournament. After fishing the tournament Monday and Tuesday I met Martha Goodfellow, a fishing pro, and her husband on Wednesday morning and fished all day to get information for a Georgia Outdoor News article. They live near Hartwell and fish it a lot.

I drove the three hours home Thursday morning then got up Friday at 2:30 AM to drive to Lay Lake and meet Caleb Dennis to get information for the May Alabama Outdoor News article. Yesterday I got up and took my old boat to Jackson to show it on the water to a buyer. Today, the Sportsman Club is fishing our March tournament a week late due to the Top Six.

Unfortunately, I did lots more driving and riding than I did catching, except for Lay. Although I started great the first place I stopped Wednesday afternoon, landing a five pound largemouth on a spinnerbait then a keeper spot and a 12 pound striper, those were the only three bites I got.

Thursday morning started right, too. I quickly caught a three-pound largemouth on a jig head worm then a two pounder on a spinnerbait. But those were the only two for the next six hours. That was very frustrating.

Friday at West Point I thought I had found three good places to catch fish. And they all did produce fish Saturday, just not enough numbers and size. I had five weighing a little over seven pounds. Buddy Laster, fishing behind Raymond English, had five weighing over 13 pounds to win. Michael Cox had five weighing 11 pounds for second and big fish with a pretty 6.5 pounder he caught with just a few minutes left to fish. I think Niles Murray finished third with nine pounds and Ryan Edge finished fourth, but by the time of weigh-in I was not thinking totally clearly!

At Hartwell I drew Carl Logan as a partner for the first day. He is one of the best fishermen in Georgia and had made the state team many times. His club, the Marietta Bassmasters, is usually the top team in the state. Carl said he was on a good pattern to catch a limit of fish weighing at least 12 pounds so I was excited.

Of course, after seven hours of fishing each of us caught two small keepers weighing 3.5 pounds total. But the fish were where we were fishing. Carl’s practice partner, Brenden Smith, pulled up on a point we had just fished without a bite and he landed five keepers, on the same bait we were throwing! He had 13.5 pounds that day on the exact pattern we were fishing sand a similar weight the second day to finish fifth overall out of 156 competitors.

My second day partner, Fred Lisk with the 26 Bassmasters, another top club in Georgia, had 10.5 pounds the first day and his partner had almost 10 pounds, so I told him to run the boat the next day. After five hours of fishing we each had two only keepers!

At noon I told him I wanted to run to my “desperation” creek and try it. It was about ten miles away so by the time we got there we had about 1.5 hours to fish. The fist cast I made I hooked and lost a 2.5 pound largemouth then landed three keepers, filling my limit. My partner caught two so we had five keepers in 90 minutes, more than the seven hours the day before and the five that morning put together.

That just shows how decisions make a difference. I wish now I had insisted on my half of each day in that creek, but I did not. Raymond English was fishing there when I got there and he said he lost a four pounder in there, so there were some good fish in it. That’s fishing!

Raymond had about ten pounds each day to finish with ten keepers weighing just over 20 pounds total to place first on the Spalding County Sportsman Club team in 34th place overall. I was dead last on the team with seven keepers, placing 124th.

Friday at Lay I landed three keepers, one about three pounds, all on a spinnerbait while 19-year-old Caleb showed me how to fish, landing about ten keepers with the five biggest weighing about 16 pounds. He caught them on a little of everything.

If my luck holds the buyer changed his mind about buying my boat yesterday and today at Oconee I will get in a lot of casting practice with little catching.

Lake Hartwell Bass Tournament

In the two-day Potato Creek Bassmasters April tournament at Lake Hartwell, 20 members fished for 17.5 hours to land 298 pounds of bass. Lee Hancock won with ten weighing 28.91 pounds and his 5.29 pound largemouth was big fish. His partner Jack Ridgeway came in second with ten weighing 26.38 pounds, Kwong Yu was third with ten at 24.82 and my ten weighing 22.00 placed second.

I had good and bad luck. One day of the tournament I landed a big hybrid and a keeper spotted bass the first few minutes after we started. Then I hooked and landed a 4.6 pound largemouth. So far so good. But then I lost four big fish in various ways, two of them that I saw and were as big or bigger than the 4.6 pounder. A couple got me around stumps and broke me off, one just pulled off and one jumped and threw the topwater plug.

I had a limit the first 90 minutes of the tournament and later in the day had to release four two-pound largemouth since I had five that big or bigger. That day I weighed in five weighing about 12.5 pounds. But Lee and Zero were ahead of me with their great catch that day.

The other day I started by catching a ten pound striper and a four pound hybrid on top, then a keeper spot. A few minutes later on two casts I had two fish weighing between 2.5 and 3 pounds each that came completely out of the water and my topwater plug went sailing. Another five pound plus largemouth ran at my plug in about a foot of water. I could see its back out of the water. I don’t think I set the hook too soon but may have since I never felt it.

I tried another place and filled my limit but then hooked a four-pound largemouth that jumped two feet out of the water and threw my jig head worm. That is rare since that bait is light, unlike a big topwater plug that has enough weight that when the bass shakes its head the hooks pull free.

The last two hours I fished deeper with the jig head worm and landed a 3.22 pound spotted bass and another one that culled my smallest fish, ending up with five weighing just under ten pounds. That was it for the two days. I hooked enough big bass to win but did not get them in the boat.

The Sportsman Club is at Clarks Hill this weekend. I hope my good luck holds and my bad luck gets better!

Fishing West Point Lake and Lake Lanier

Maybe fishing is good from Alabama to South Carolina with the exception of the middle of Georgia, for me anyway. A tournament at Lanier last Sunday was very frustrating but a trip to West Point on the Alabama line was more rewarding.

Tuesday I took my 2004 Skeeter I am trying to sell to West Point to run it some. It had not been cranked since last November, the longest time it has gone without going fishing since I bought it. I had taken everything out of it so I had to remember to take a life jacket, kill switch, and the boat key!

Although I planned to run the motor some and look at water color and temperature in preparation for a Potato Creek tournament Saturday, I did put in a couple of rods and reels, one with a spinnerbait and one with a crankbait. I took no spare tackle.

I was pleased when the motor cranked right up and ran without any problem. And the water from the Mega Ramp at Pyne Park up to Whitewater was a good color for fishing, a little stained but not muddy, and with temperatures in the low 60s I knew the fish should be active.

After riding around a little I could not stand it so I fished into a cove with the crankbait, casting it to rocks and wood cover, without a bite. Then as I approached a tree in the water I picked up the spinnerbait and caught a four pound largemouth on the first cast with it. That was exciting.

After riding around a little more I decided to fish the crankbait on a point and quickly caught two pound spotted bass. At that point I realized I didn’t want to catch any more fish, preferring to save them for the tournament, so I ran back to the ramp and took the boat out. I was on the water less than three hours total. I hope those two fish were waiting on me yesterday.

At Lake Lanier last Sunday 15 members of the Flint River Bass Club fished our first tournament of the year. We landed 21 keeper bass weighing about 45 pounds. There was one five-fish limit and five people did not have a keeper. Six of us had just one keeper after eight hours of casting. There was one largemouth weighed in, all the rest were spots.

Travis Weatherly had four keepers weighing 13.01 pounds and won and his 4.6-pound spot was big fish. Chuck Croft had five weighing 8.59 pounds for second, Niles Murray had four at 7.54 pounds for third and Dan Phillips had one spot weighing 3.7 pounds for fourth.

It was a very frustrating day for me. I had been seeing picture on Facebook of big spotted bass being caught on crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Folks were catching them on rocky points and clay banks, a pattern I like to fish. Others were catching numbers of spots by fishing a Fish Head Spin in ditches, a common pattern there this time of year but one I have never learned.

Travis and Chuck both said they caught their fish on the Fish Head Spin pattern. I tried it some without any luck. Nile said he caught his fish on a crankbait, something I tried a lot without a bite. My one keeper came out of a tree top and hit a jig head worm, on the sixth or seventh cast into it. It was no bigger than a bath tub. My partner Wes DeLay had also cast to that wood cover before the fish finally hit.

The weather is supposed to be unseasonably warm all this week and the fish should react to it by moving shallow and feeding. I remember a February in the mid-1970s with similar weather. It was very warm all month. Linda and I took our bass boat to Clarks Hill the last weekend of February to bass fish.

I had ordered two brand new plugs, called Deep Wee R’s, that had just come on the market. They were not in stores yet, I had to order them from a magazine. I tied on a chartreuse one and Linda used the crawfish one. We went out and found the water stained but not muddy.

About mid-morning we had caught a couple of bass but nothing exciting, and were enjoying the warm sunny day. We stopped on a clay point on an island and seemed to catch a bass on every cast for a few minutes. When they quit biting we moved to the next point in the creek and repeated the action. When it stopped there, we went to the next one with the same results.

The rest of that day and most of the day Sunday we rotated around those three points that we named Points 1, 2 and 3. Real imaginative, I know. Anyway, we landed 78 keeper bass in two days, most of them from those three points. My biggest was 6.5 pounds and Linda had one weighing 4.5 pounds.

I have never found the fish feeding like that on those points since then. Conditions were exactly right for them that year. But that is what keeps me fishing, expecting to find fish feeding like that again some day. Maybe this is the year!

Plan a fishing trip this week. You may find a bunch of bass, or catch the biggest one of your life. Conditions are right, just like they were one year back in the 1970s!

Fishing Demopolis Lake and Lake Russell

Fishing was good from Alabama to South Carolina in late February. Last Friday I went to Demopolis, Alabama and spent the night. The next morning I met Will Ayers, a young local tournament fisherman, and we spent the day on Demopolis Lake, getting information for the March Alabama Outdoor News article. Since Will has a three-year-old son and a daughter on the way, he fishes only two local lakes, but last year he won $26,000 in tournaments.

Demopolis Lake is formed by a dam near the junction of the Black Warrior and Tombigbee Rivers. It is so close to the Mississippi state line you feel like you could throw a rock into the next state. It took me almost five hours to get there.

The weekend before we fished, Will and a friend had gone out and caught a lot of bass, with the biggest five going 17.8 pounds, and had a 5.5 pound kicker. He felt good about us catching fish and, the first place we stopped, the bass were feeding. Will caught about a dozen keepers up to 3.5 pounds on a red Rat-L-Trap, casting it into water about two feet deep. I was busy taking pictures notes and trying to get a video for the on-line issue of the article to fish much, and I was hard headed and kept throwing a DT6 crankbait, but I did manage to catch a couple of fish.

That was how it went for the rest of the day. Will would catch at least two or three everywhere we stopped and I might catch one or two. The last place we fished that afternoon, back in a creek where a point created a protected pocket from the wind, Will caught another dozen on a spinnerbait. I managed to catch two on a Chatterbait.

I love the river lakes in Alabama like Demopolis. The current and nutrient rich waters produce quality bass that fight extremely hard. We really do not have any lakes in Georgia like them. They have stained water, lots of grass along the bank, and miles of small creeks, sloughs and oxbow lakes to fish.

The five-hour drive home was the only bad thing about the trip.

Sunday afternoon I drove 2.5 hours to my mobile home at Clarks Hill to spend the night. The next morning I drove an hour to Calhoun State Park, a South Carolina park on Lake Russell, and met 18-year-old Brody Manley, another good local bass fisherman, to get information for the March Georgia Outdoor News magazine. Russell is a lake between Clarks Hill and Hartwell on the Savannah River.

Brody makes and sells fishing jigs for a living. They are available in local stores in that area and online at https://www.fishmanleycustomtackle.com/. He also guides on a couple of local lakes and fishes tournaments. I am constantly amazed at the skill and knowledge of the young fishermen I meet. Tournament bass fishing did not exist until I was in college, but some of these young folks have been tournament fishing since they were pre-teen! Their experience shows.

Russell is about as opposite a lake as you can have from Demopolis. The water at Russell is deep and clear, with rocks being the most important cover on the lake. It has quality largemouth but is also full of big spotted bass. Rather than fishing big baits on heavy line, Brody fished smaller baits on eight pound test line.

The cold front that came through Sunday night had put the fish in a bad mood, I think. Brody still caught a pretty three pound spotted bass as well as several more keeper size fish. I never had a bite! We quit fishing at noon when I got all the information I needed for the article.

The 3.5 hour drive home from Russell was not quite as bad as the one Friday night!

Flint River Bass Club Tournament At Lake Oconee

Just in time for the Flint River Bass Club tournament last Sunday winter decided to revisit our area. On a cold, rainy, windy day 12 members, one guest and one youth fished for up to eight hours to land 24 bass longer than the 14 inch minimum size on Lake Oconee. They weighed about 70 pounds. Those of us that stayed to the end had three limits but six people either zeroed or left early due to the weather.

Sam Smith had an incredible catch for our club of five keepers weighing 18.39 pounds. Sam’s big fish weighed 4.85 pounds so all of his other keepers were quality fish in the three to four pound range. Niles had what would usually be a winning weight but placed second with five at 15.72 and had big fish with a very nice 6.62 pounder. Niles is on a big fish roll this year!

I had what I thought was a really good catch with five at 13.64 pounds and placed third. New member Daniel Hinkelman placed fourth with five weighing 11.72 pounds. Kelly Chanbers had two keepers weighing 5.25 for fifth place. I was surprised at the number of bass weighing in that weighed in the four-pound range.

Kelly and I were very frustrated with the rain and wind that “burned” exposed skin, especially since we had one small keeper each at 1:30. I knew the fish should be shallow near bedding areas, even with the changing weather, since the water temperature was 59 degrees.

But no matter where we fished or what we tried we could not catch much. We did land several fish under the 14-inch limit but keepers were tough to find. Kelly got one on a rattle bait first thing then I caught one on a Carolina rig but those were the only two keepers. We had tried spinnerbaits, crankbaits, chatterbaits and several kinds of plastics.

Then at 1:30 in some brush in the very back of the cove I hooked and landed a 3.93 pound largemouth on a jig head worm from some brush. Working out of that cove I got my third keeper on a spinnerbait off a windblown dock, something I had tried dozens of casts without a bite. Then going into the next cove I landed another bass close to four pounds on a jig head worm.

We worked around that cove then Kelly got a 3.97 pound largemouth from some brush on a jig head worm. A few feet further up the bank I cast my jig head worm to a rock in about three feet of water and landed my fifth keeper, filling my limit with another bass close to four pounds.

That was it for the day, five keepers in one hour out of the eight we fished. At weigh-in I felt pretty good until I saw Sam’s and Niles’ great catches! Niles said he got the big one on a rattlebait and had, like me, only five keepers. Sam surprised me by saying he landed 22 keepers during the day, all on spinnerbaits, something I could not get a bite while fishing.

Just goes to show many patterns work most days even if they are not working for you, and also show you should never give up while fishing.

West Point February Club Tournament

Last Sunday 12 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our February tournament at West Point Lake. The day started cold and clear but warmed up before noon. We landed 52 bass weighing about 78 pounds. There were six five-fish limits an everyone caught at least one fish. There were only 11 largemouth more than 14 inches long and 41 spotted bass more than 12 inches long weighed in.

Kwong Yu won it all with five bass weighing an impressive 14.44 pounds and had big fish with a nice 6.40 pound largemouth. Sam Smith was a close second with five weighing 13.12 pounds. I came in a distant third with five at 7.01 pounds and Javin English came out of hibernation to place fourth with five at 6.83 pounds.

With the cold front that came through Saturday I expected fishing to be worse that it was. Cold and clear with bright sunlight is the worst kind of conditions this time of year to me, but the 59 to 61-degree stained water helped a good bit.

I had a feeling that if I went to this one point in a creek about five miles from where we took off I would catch a bass. I get that feeling rarely so I try to pay attention to it. That is what the pros do often, get a sixth sense about catching fish. It happens to me just a few times a year. Part of my feeling last Sunday was from catching some fish there the weekend before in a Potato Creek tournament.

Sam the tournament director let us go at 6:58. It was a perfect day for running fast if you were dressed for the cold and I saw 71.9 MPH on my GPS as I ran down the lake. When I stopped on the point I picked up a rattle bait and on about my third cast a keeper spot hit it. I put him in the livewell at 7:04 AM!

At 8:30 I put my fifth keeper in the livewell, filling my limit with four spots and one largemouth. But they were all just barely big enough to keep and all five probably did not weigh five pounds total. So I switched from a jig had worm and crankbaits for keeper fish to a big jig and pig for bigger fish. It didn’t work!

I kept switching back to the jig head worm just to catch something, and kept catching small fish. I wanted to keep some spots to eat so I was putting everything legal in the livewell. At 11:00 I stopped to check and had 11 keepers, one above the legal limit, so I let the two smallest go.

I kept trying to catch bigger fish, even moving out to brush in deep water, but still kept catching small spots. I put one of the biggest in the livewell but threw several back without even measuring them. Somehow at the end of the day I ended up bringing 13 spots home to eat. I caught at least 16 and maybe more.

Years ago I heard Roland Martin, one of the top pros at the time, say bass would not hit a spinnerbait on bright sunny days, so I have always had a mental problem fishing one under those conditions. Imagine my surprise when Kwong said the six pounder and another four pound largemouth hit a spinnerbait and Sam said most of his fish hit a spinnerbait, too. He had a 4.34 pound largemouth and another one over three pound.

It seems my “feeling” went only so far. I needed the feeling to throw a spinnerbait more. Maybe I would have caught something over two pounds since Kwong and Sam had the only fish over two pounds in the tournament I think!

Two-Lure Approach For Cold Weather Bass

Try This Two-Lure Approach For Cold Weather Bass

Editor’s Note: While spring is arriving early in much of the southeast, bass anglers in many areas of the nation are still challenged by chilly water. Here are some tips for connecting from noted B.A.S.S. Elite pro Bobby Lane.

Yamaha Pro Bobby Lane Alternates Jigs and Crankbaits in the Same Water

By most standards, Florida-based pro Bobby Lane would be among the last to say he enjoys fishing cold winter water, but just the opposite is true. The veteran Yamaha Pro has developed a two-lure approach that has nearly taken him to victory in the last two Bassmaster Classics,® both conducted in extremely cold weather.

“The two lures I use are a tight wobbling shad-imitation crankbait and a jig,” explains Lane, who used this combination to finish second in the 2015 Classic® on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell, and 11th last year on Grand Lake in Oklahoma. “The crankbait allows me to cover water, and when I do catch a fish with it, I switch to the jig and work the immediate area more carefully.

“In cold water a lot of bass suspend, but at the same time they still move up in the water column routinely to feed. This is when they become more accessible, and these are the fish I’m looking for first with the crankbait. For the most part, I concentrate in water only about 10 feet deep, and traditionally it seems I have my best success early in the morning, even when it’s brutally cold.”

Lane’s crankbait is a suspending model he fishes on either spinning or baitcasting rods, normally using a slow but steady retrieve.

If he does stop reeling, which he does occasionally just to make the bait look more natural, the lure remains at that depth instead of rising to the surface. He targets deeper points, creek channel bends, bluff walls, and even boat docks when he can find the right water depth. He often visits the very same spots several times each day.

“The crankbait stays in the potential strike zone anywhere between five and 10 feet deep, and since I can fish it slowly and stay at that depth, bass will hit it because it looks so natural,” continues the Yamaha Pro. “I’m not crawling the lure through rocks like I might do in summer, or digging along the bottom the way I do in the fall months. I’m just casting and slowly reeling back, and not really trying to make contact with anything. I may not get very many strikes during the day, but I am covering water where I’m always expecting a strike.”

When Lane does catch a bass this way, he changes to his jig to work slightly deeper water. He knows winter bass gather in schools but not all of them move up to feed at the same time.

“I’m really going after the same fish,” he says, “because the jig will appeal to those bass that just aren’t as active at that moment. Not only can I fish it slower, I can also work bottom cover more effectively with it. I’m fishing it only a little deeper, maybe down to 15 feet or so, and in the same places I fished the crankbait.”

Lane’s favorite jig is a compact 5/16-ounce model, and he adds a small plastic trailer for added action and a more lifelike appearance. As well as having a completely different appearance than the crankbait, the jig also has a different presentation, two factors Lane believes take on added importance in winter fishing for either largemouths or smallmouths.

“While the crankbait looks and moves like a shad, it’s not going to attract every bass that sees it,” emphasizes the Yamaha Pro. “I do know that when I catch one fish with it there are almost certainly others nearby, which is why changing to another lure that looks and acts differently may be what triggers one or two of them to strike. It looks good and they don’t have to spend any energy chasing it, so they bite it.”

For the past five years, Lane has used this two-lure combination in competition on lakes all over the country, and one look at his record certainly proves that it works. Even though he loves the warm water in his home state of Florida, the crankbait and jig have made him just as comfortable in cold water, too