ANYONE CAN CATCH MORE THAN 40 BASS IN A DAY DURING THE SPAWNING SEASON
Photos and story by Bill Vanderford
Many anglers look at some recent conditions and cringe! High blue skies, bright sunlight, and hot days are not considered “text book” times to catch more than 40 bass per day. Add to that the fact that most spotted bass seem to be scattered along “nothing-looking” banks in less than 15 feet of water and are attacking a very small lure as though it had magical qualities.
All of these conditions go against the standard thinking of most bass fishermen, but that’s exactly what is happening. The best part, however, is that these feisty bass will continue being aggressive in the same general areas until the morning surface temperature exceeds 80 degrees. A little more understanding of this prolific bass can help all anglers be more productive.
The spotted bass was first accurately identified in Kentucky in 1927, and for many years, it was believed to be the only state they inhabited. Because of that mistake, they were called Kentucky spotted bass. Since they have been found in certain areas from coast to coast, however, the Kentucky has been dropped and they are referred to simply as spotted bass.
The coloration of the spotted bass is similar to that of the largemouth bass, but contains a little more brown. The section between the dark upper back and the lateral spotted line appears to have diamond-shaped markings, and the lower side of most spotted bass has several lateral lines that appear gold in color, while the largemouth is usually white. Additionally, with the mouth closed, a spotted bass’s lower jaw only comes even with its eye, while the largemouth’s extends all the way behind the eye. The spotted bass’s tongue contains a small patch of teeth that looks like a black spot in the middle of the tongue, while the largemouth bass has a slick tongue.
Spotted bass lived in the river systems until major reservoirs were impounded. They are a much hardier and faster spreading fish than the largemouth bass, and are more active than any of the black bass
Despite heavy fishing pressure and boat traffic, spotted bass grow quickly and in great numbers. Even when big weather changes such as major fronts occur, the spotted bass continue feeding, especially during spring and early summer.
The spawning ritual of the spotted bass is very similar to that of the largemouth. They tend, however, to do it later and at greater depths. In fact, spots prefer 5 to 20 feet, but can often be seen spawning with the largemouth bass in the 2 to 5 feet of water. Also, spotted bass usually seek out clay banks rather than the sand chosen by largemouth.
The most fun way to catch spotted bass during April and May is by casting 1/8th ounce Pro Series Swirleybirds from the shoreline or from a boat near shallow stumps, rocks, and other debris along red clay or rocky banks. These practically invisible structures can be seen by using polarized sunglasses and looking for darker shadows. After one is spotted, throw the Swirleybird several feet past the target and swim it slowly near the object. If a male spotted bass is nearby, he’ll nail it!
From now until all of the spawning activity is over can be the most productive time of year for spotted bass or smallmouth. A bad day for me during this period is less than 40 bass each day. All that is needed is a little knowledge of a lake, and a few Swirleybirds. These lures are deadly both during the spawn and in the tougher post-spawn period. Anyone who can cast will become an expert with this lure immediately. Since the tiny blade turns from the time it hits the water until it reaches the rod tip at the end of the retrieve, the action is extremely tantalizing to spotted, smallmouth, or largemouth bass and many other fish.
These lures can often be as effective from the shoreline as they are from a boat. From the bank, look for deeper rock or rip rap formations, blown down trees, docks, or over brushy areas.
Fly fishing enthusiasts may also capitalize on this prime time of year for spotted bass by using the new, much smaller, flyrod-sized Swirleybird. Regardless of how one goes about it, by thinking small and slow and making plenty of casts, a day of fishing is guaranteed to leave every angler with wonderful memories!Bill Vanderford has won numerous awards for his writing and photography, and has been inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as a Legendary Guide. He can be reached at 770-289-1543 Email Bill – JFish51@aol.com or check out his website www.fishinglanier.com