Peninsula Fly Fishers

Spring Fishing
Largemouth Bass

by Rich Catanzaro

leaping bass

The seasons are turning and Spring is upon us. This usually means that warm water fishing is just around the corner. No, not trout!! The other species. Bad brother BASS and his attitude will be waiting in the shallows, in brush piles and around rocks. He will be hanging around drop offs waiting to ambush unsuspecting prey. The best time of day to meet him is in the early morning hours and early evening hours.

He is a predator and these low light hours offer a distinct advantage over his prey.

He'll come with an attitude. He'll come with an appetite. In the early spring the best bet will be subsurface presentations of woolly buggers, minnows and worms. You'll have to move them slowly when the days and water is colder. As the days warm up BASS will readily accommodate you with presentations of top water offerings. The BASS POPPERS will begin to be effective. The BASS will move closer in the shallows as the water warms, for spawning and food, and at the same time he'll become a top predator. He'll dismantle your offerings in ways you don't even imagine.

Let me recount some of the ways you can detect the subtle take. First of all he could just rise under your offering, open his mouth and engulf the entire popper as he comes out of the water, or perhaps a five gallon hole in the water will develop under your fly as he flushes the lake to take the fly. Perhaps, he'll come out of the water and dive bomb your fly from above with the fury of a misguided missile. Then perhaps there's the attack of a full throttle freight train coming across the lake to take you fly. The weeds and water will wake and part like the proverbial "Red Sea".

Mr. and Mrs. BASS are not shy. Don't be afraid that if you spook him he'll go away. In most cases he or she may go no more than a short distance and then come back to see what the offering consists of. Once your fly or popper hits the water let it set there for a moment before beginning the retrieve. Take a few short retrieves, hesitate and then a few more. You can be rewarded with a virtuosity that will rock your socks. Once you have hooked the meanest critter in the lake a whole new battle begins.

If it is a large bass, your leader should be stout, 8-12 lb. material should suffice. You may need to pull this Mack truck out of weeds, branches or roots. He knows where they all are and will use everything to defeat you. His runs can consist of jumps, strong tug of war or simple, powerful runs. Though not usually long, you will not get into backing, you will have difficulty in stopping a BASS that wants to get somewhere. I have seen fly fishers with 8wt rods cringe with excitement when they had their line pulled to the tree line and been unable to turn the fish until it tied the line around the root and disappeared.

BASS are well distributed here in California. They range from the Northern ranges to the Southern plains, and from the Coastal areas to the Alpine regions. Without exception they can be found in almost every area without the necessity of a long commute.

Their cousins Bluegill, Crappie and Smallmouth Bass offer just as challenging venues. Just scale down the rod and reel and the excitement will be nearly as great.

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