My love of fishing developed in the womb of spring on a bass pond. In a sunny corner of the water, the first day in April to hit 70 degrees, bass nosed in the shallows. They readily inhaled any small life-form imitating lure. The air smelled of winter thawing, fresh blossoms and fish slime.
I was a wide-eyed boy filled full of wonder at the natural world. A bit of that wonder remains every time I’m headed out to hit the water. These days the focus has changed from immersion in the environment to an unending search for the biggest bass in the lake. At times, the true giants seem like a whole other species. In a way, they are.
One tool will put you on big bass faster than fruit flies on a forgotten glass of wine. It’s your brain. If you give the fish too much credit you lose confidence and fish poorly. Many anglers view the plus size girls as out of their league and a rare catch, while others are culling 6-pounders out of a 5-fish limit. Approaching your quest with confidence is the first step.
When you leave the ramp, expect to get a big fish bite. The worst she could do is say no. Use your brain to increase every odd. Find the lake that reports the best numbers of big fish, narrow down spots, study the forage base, read fishing reports. This is common sense but overlooked details can be like forgetting that pinch of garlic salt in your fish batter.
Patience is another mental necessity. Trophy bass might be more educated then their younger brethren but they are hard to catch because there are fewer of them. You will make a lot of casts seeking that trophy bass or kicker fish bite in a tournament. Your patience and confidence is sure to be tested. Make sure you are prepared for battle before you go to war.
I’ve fished most the best big bass waters in the states, from California to Florida and Texas. Each location requires a different approach but in many ways, big bass fishing shares common truths. My Hobie® Pro Angler 14 offers many advantages for this type of fishing. Older, wiser fish tend be more wary. Some anglers shut off electronics, worried that the sonar ping will spook fish.
When I approach an area where there may be a big fish, I take care to cast at an angle that presents the most efficient ambush opportunity. Often I have a breeze or wind blowing in my face. I pedal my MirageDrive to stay in place and watch my position on a Lowrance sonar. Even with a low profile in the kayak, I try to stay as far off a spot as I can. I make long casts and try not to silhouette myself. I take care not to drop things in the ‘yak or make extra noise. Imagine a cat stalking a mouse. That’s the care we should take when hunting big bass.
In a kayak, you can reach less pressured fish and reach them with more stealth. You can dissect a favorable spot with more precision. It’s time to rethink your options for trophy bass as a kayak angler. There’s a world of opportunity. There is nothing quite like watching a bass boat cruise by a spot, peppering it with casts and then move on. All the while, you are sitting there in one position catching the best bass in the lake. Nod at your glittery cousins and give them a mysterious smile.
When bass fishing in California exploded with a handful of guys out chasing the next world record, the name of the game was a natural presentation. These guys would live-line crawfish and let them crawl around the bottom for hours. They would sit and wait for that 20 pounder to inhale the bait. The clear water reservoirs out west spawned a new world of ultra-realistic bass presentations and the subsequent swimbait craze.
To this day, these techniques are being adapted in bass waters across the country. They are producing big bass. Both live bait and realistic swimbaits have important niches in the trophy bass arsenal. I personally fish a variety of conditions in the Midwest. Targeting big bass varies from one lake to the next.
I might be a speck on a huge surface mat, far from the reaches of bass boats, standing in my Hobie and chucking a hollow body frog. I might twitch a jig in the middle of a massive brush pile for hours or rip a lipless crank vertically under the kayak for deep, ledge dwelling fish. Remember to think out of the box. Every great presentation was once a random idea in a desperate angler’s mind.
If there is a big momma toad relaxing in the shadow of a stump, slurping up fry, maybe you tie that weightless three-inch Senko on your spinning rod. Don’t be a sheep. Invent yourself as a trophy fisherman by learning how to catch the fish through experimentation. In the end, the fish can be caught. All you need to do is fish with confidence and drive until you figure them out.
An hour on the water is valuable experience. Anglers who sneak away each chance they get bend the learning curve into a tighter arc. One can literally get lost in the infinite number of bass fishing articles and advice on the interwebs. The best lessons in big bass hunting are on the water. If I relied on conventional knowledge I’d just be handicapping myself.
The largest bass I’ve caught to date have been in the least likely conditions and times of year. If I had doubted my chances I would not have these fish on record. Nobody expects to catch a giant bass at high noon with a cloudless sky and temperatures soaring near 100 degrees. Yet, some of the largest behemoths to break the surface have come at the most unexpected times. I still remember casually conversing with my fishing partner as my Spro Frog sat lifeless in 8 feet of water next to the boat, when suddenly a giant bass came out of nowhere and absolutely choked on that frog. No matter what you know, you never know. There could be a record bass waiting on the next cast… as long as you are there to make it.
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