"Big Bass - California Style"
By Robbie Biccum
California ranks as one of the top trophy fishing states in the U.S. In fact many many believe the next world record will come from a California lake. While lakes like Castaic, Casitas, Skinner, Perris, Hodges, Miramar and others are renouned in southern California for their BIG BASS they are also renouned for their fishing pressure.
In the central region Other lakes like, Millerton, Kaweah, Isabella, Don Pedro, Amador or Tulloch are certainly capable of giving up the next world record.
Further north Lake Berryessa, Oroville and Folsom are posting tremendous sizes. At recent tournaments on Clear Lake and The Delta, Big Bass were almost the rule rather than the exception. The bass have to be living longer. What else could explain so many Big Bass on so many lakes. Keep up the C & R (Catch & Release) boys and girls it seems to be working!
Now, how about those Big Bass? Where can you find them, when can you find them and most important of all how can you catch them. Letís start at the begining. We are going to discuss the major steps you must take in order to CONSISTANTLY CATCH Big Bass.
You MUST have trophy catching equipment. Rod, Reel, Line and Bait. Without any of these you are doomed to a life of bass fishing mediocrity. Youíll catch Big Fish when you are fishing with smaller baits as well but you will CONSISTANTLY CATCH Big Bass if you use Big Baits. Hereís your list:
7í6" to 9í Med to Heavy Action Rod. Get the best rod you can afford. When casting these big baits you will break a cheap rod. A good level wind reel or spinning reel. I donít sell Abu Garcia but I use the Abu Garcia line of reels. Nothing is more frustrating than running out of drag on a Big BASS. I like the AG 6500C3. It holds enough line and has a great drag.
Your line should be strong. That means 20 - 30 lb. test. Anything lighter and you will snap-off your baits on the cast. Remember, some of these baits will weigh almost a pound.
The Lure: There is quite a selection out there. From giant worms that weigh a couple of ounces to Giant Trout Baits that weigh 15 or 16 ozs.
∑ Have a good selection of each so you can match the conditions on the water.
∑ Have several of each so when one is the hot bait you can keep catching.
∑ Worms, big monster worms with a ribbon tail are terrific. Lots of action to entice even the most wary bass.
∑ Trout Immitations: Have a variety of these. They will float, suspend and dive. Some floating trout baits to try would be Stocker Trout, and the Castaic Trout. There are others but these have proven productive for me.
WHEN and WHERE do you fish these Big Baits?
For now we are going to focus our attention on the Big Trout Baits. We will assume that you have a good understanding of fishing the plastic worm. Although the finer points of Big Bass worm fishing would be a good topic for a future newsletter.
Big Trout Baits really do work anytime of year. Some people prefer to fish them only in the fall and winter. Like the Big Bass they persue these fishermen are opportunistic. The Fall and Winter seem to be the most productive times of the year in California because that is when all the trout plants are taking place. The Big Bass learn when the fish plants occur and come looking for the easy meal. If you are new at this type of fishing this would be a good time to get your feet wet. After all why not build your confidence and techniques with a wide open bite. Lakes with trout in them whether stocked or planted are your best bet for catching Big Bass on Big Trout Baits. Remember the Big Bass are in the lakes the year round. It is the fisherman who takes the time to learn and master Big Fish Catching techniques who will Consistantly Catch the Monster Bass his friends just hope to one day catch, maybe.
Remember Big Bass are opportunistic feeders so fish for them where it is easy for them to ambush their prey. This means off primary and secondary points. There are some exceptions: Recently, one of my clients fished on "the flats" so to speak. He was fishing in 2í to 4í of water with depressions as deep as 6 feet. The Big Bass were Ďholed upí in these depressions waiting to ambush an unsuspecting trout. He caught 7 fish to 10 lbs. in 1 1/2 hours. Not Bad. I can tell you he was fishing in Central California and it was a reservoir. My lips are sealed. It pays to know the water you are fishing on. He is a MASTER of these techniques. He knew the ambush factor was available in just two to four feet of water. He is a sharpie and if I mentioned his name you would recognize him but I wonít. He does love the Basstrix Trout Baits.
Casting and Reeling - These big baits will feel rather akward at first so take your time getting used to them. Remember to set your anti-backlash for the size bait your using. Be prepared for a couple of birds nests itís part of learning. Once you have the cast down then you will need to practice the retrieve. I like to start reeling as soon as the bait hits the water. A diving Trout Bait like the Basstrix is best fished slow so it will continue to fall on the retrieve thereby covering alot of water on one cast. Sometimes I will map fish on my scope at or near the bottom. Now I change my strategy and go after these big boys by letting my bait sink completely to the bottom before I begin the retrieve. Remember wind slow to medium speed. If you have a good bait it will impart itís own action.
For floating baits, let them sit just like any other floating crank bait for several seconds before winding. This is where you will get many of your strikes. Some people I know that fish with two rods will put on a Stocker and let it float along while they work the points with the Basstrix.
The Hook Set - If you are going to seriously fish for big bass with big Trout Baits you MUST master the art of the hook set. Simple as it is you must MASTER the technique. Here it is - When you feel like your Trout Bait has just hit a snag or a rock, wind down HARD on the reel and sweep the rod SIDEWAYS. Itís that simple. Donít forget, WIND and SWEEP SIDEWAYS. It is so important I will say it again WIND like a maniac and SWEEP the rod SIDEWAYS. WIND AND SWEEP. That is all their is to it!
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