by, 11-10-2011 at 11:59 PM (726 Views)
I think a lot of modern fisherman have some misconceptions about what it takes to catch bass. Leading the field of these misconceptions is the almost universal thought that you need big heavy tackle to deliver big heavy plugs to entice the larger specimens of the population. Even then, some will argue they fish smaller presentations at times for bigger fish, like mag darters, 5 inch redfins, 1 oz jigs, stubby needles, etc. The thing is though, that stuff ainít small at all. There are some things that myself and a few others I know use regularly that would bring most seasoned surf guys to hysterics as they walked off to find the rest of the sane people. Guess what though? This shit really works.
A bunch of years ago Ken Abrames began talking to me and Nick about a little trick he likes to use. Now at this point Iíd known Ken long enough to know he wasnít completely full of shit and even if it sounded crazy or stupid I should probably shut up and listen. I found one constant among it all though. He always had a reason for telling us about something, even if the underlying reason had nothing to do with what he was trying to get across to us at that moment. That makes no sense I know, but thatís how it works. The best teachers teach you to teach yourselves. If you have no idea what Iím talking about then you are at the beginning of getting my point. AnywaysÖ
This little trick he brought up is called finesse fishing. Itís method of fishing where depth control and drop speed of a bait in the water lies at the core. Itís more similar to greased line fishing methods with a flyrod but itís typically implemented with ultralight spinning gear and tiny jigs. And by tiny jigs I donít mean quarter ounce either. Look in the panfishing section of the tackle shop and then youíll start getting the idea. TinyÖ 1/16 oz, 1/32 oz, etc. You still with me?
The first time he showed me how to do it we found a fish holding in some shallow water. A school bass just hugging the bottom in a light backeddy flow at Potters Pond. I was instructed to flick my little 1/32 oz jig sporting a 1 inch salt and pepper grub tail upcurrent of the fish and to do nothing except guide it to the fish. It took me a few tries to put it in the fishís face, but when I did the fish opened up and closed down on the jig without moving and inch. All I had to do now was slowly apply pressure to the line (using my finger to pull on the line, not the rod tip) and start reeling. Landed the fish with the jig buried right in the corner of his mouth.
Iíd never witnessed anything like that before nevermind thought about using something that small. It was amazing. We always talk about bringing the lure to the fish on their own terms, but until seeing this I donít think I ever actually understood what that really meant. The fish just opened and closed on it, no hard hit or reaction strike maneuvers. Just open and close. Kenny gave me a little laugh of encouragement, more of an approving old man cackle really. He followed up this moment of enlightenment with a comment. A comment thatís stuck with me every day since when I pull out the little gear. A comment I always figured was a little over the top. He said, ďYou can catch 30 pounders like thatĒ. But like I said before, If he says it, heís got a reason.
Last Monday I decided to go try a spot close to home that a friend had told me about. Heíd been fishing there for about a week catching a couple fish every night up to about 12 lbs.
This night he showed me how heíd been fishing the spot and he proved his method within a few minutes of arriving with one of the larger bass heíd caught down there. A 3 inch white storm shad tossed way up current and retrieved along the bottom did the trick for him. I fished the same way for the rest of the night with no results. I was a little frustrated at myself for not bringing any other jig options, but I saw it work so I gave it an honest effort.
A couple days later I wanted to go again. This time I brought a bunch of my smaller jigs and little soft plastics. Not the ultra-light gear, but the 10lb fireline rig anyway. From my time there the other night Iíd noticed there were a lot of unexplored options for swimming jigs using these more precise finesse type methods. I finally ended up with a 3/16 oz ballhead jig and a 3 inch white rubber tail. This is a little big compared to the finesse rigs I talked about before, but the method remains the same. Tuning the jig and presentation for precise depth control throughout the sweep. Not jigging, but controlled drifting and swimming.
After a few casts I felt it. The little ďtickĒ on the line as I held it between my fingers. I pulled in tight and felt a little movement. A little light shake, so next I applied enough pressure to securely drive the hook home. Not a hard whack of the rod, rather a steady increase of pressure using the reel. Now the fish started to move.
At first it was a light steady pull downcurrent. I continued maintaining pressure then all of a sudden the fish decided it was hooked and began a long blistering run down channel. It just kept going. My friend next to me gave me a little look without saying a word. Kind of a WTF look. I started walking down the shoreline to try and slow the line pouring off the spool. It would be a while.
Fast forward ten minutes. The other guys had been quiet until now and had begun fishing again since it was clear to them I would be a while. I started to wonder myself. This fish kept taking back everything Iíd gained and I hadnít even seen it break the surface yet. Then I noticed a small wake disrupting the perfectly still waters of the inlet. This wake was still a good 75 yards away, but the fish appeared to have finally lost its will to fight. The next 5 minutes was me applying a slow steady pull toward the shore feeling the occasional tail throb against the line. I kept thinking ďNot to fast, donít pull too hardĒ. Afterall, the jig was only sporting a light wire #2 hook.
I finally had the fish within about twenty feet from me as indicated by an increase in thrashing as I pulled it up into the shallower area near the shore. I kicked my light on and saw it as it slid directly towards me, the white from its mouth half open framed in by broad dark shoulders. This was not the Potters Pond schoolie.
It came in easy after that, and my first guess put it at about 30lbs. I later weighed it a 28. Close enough. Itís not the biggest fish Iíve ever caught, but itís up there as one of the most special to me.
Early November, inner bay, little water, little jig, little rod, big fish.
Thanks Kenny. I believe you now.