Itís stock, stock, stalking time! I donít mean Christmas. I mean these Big Bass are stalking the stock that we put in every week during the fall. Itís time for us to take control and fight this senseless slaughter of our poor defenseless trout. These unsuspecting trout come from the hatchery like young men out of bootcamp, three hots and a cot everyday for the last 6 months just to be ambushed by a MONSTER. BASS. How did they get so smart?
Big Bass got Big by paying attention. Letís review some of the basics that every bass knows about stalking (stocking) time. First, itís winter, and trout in warmer climates are stocked in our local lakes because of the cooler water temperatures. Second, low barometric pressures associated with changing weather conditions spark the Big Bass Bite. Third, that hatchery truck makes alot of noise when it backs up to the water with the BEEP, BEEP, BEEP of itsí reverse warning alarm. Kind of like the honk of the horn on the lunch truck arriving outside my office. This might be a stretch but I will show you that Big Bass definitely know when itís "stalking time".
Why Trout? Why do Big Bass key in on these poor, unsuspecting rookies? Because they make a good sized meal, period. Letís take a closer look as this point is key. Big Bass need a Big meal just to survive. The trout that are planted into our local lakes throughout the country range in size from 6" to 18" with some "Trophy Fish" weighing in at over 10 lbs. Not only do Big Bass get a Big Meal during the winter months but these meals are extraordinarily convenient. For them itís definitely a lunch truck. Especially the trout in the 6" to 10" range.
In fact, all hatcheries, be they private or government am now stagger their planting dates and times when bass are part of the fish population. On one western lake the Big Bass and Stripers would stage at the lakes "regular" stocking point and begin a wicked slaughter of the trout as soon as "The Lunch Truck" released them into the water. The water was so thick with Big Bass and Striper that the trout had virtually no chance at survival for even a few hours. Those poor trout. And those poor disappointed trout fishermen and women, How can you make this "unfortunate situation" work for you.
First, find out the WHEN and WHERE of the trout plants. Your local paper will start listing the lakes to be planted at least once a week in the sport section during the fall months(my paper lists them each Thursday). Also, check the outdoor newspapers such as Western Outdoor News and the American Bass Association for planting dates and places. This will give you a good place to start but there is MORE! Second, get to know the men and/or women that work at the marinas on the lakes where you fish. The more you see them the better you get to know them and the better they get to know you. Make a real friend of them. Explain to them that you are after Big Bass and Big Bass Only and would appreciate any help they can give you. What you need to know is where and when exactly the trout WILL be stocked. What cove or ramp and at exactly what time, Once you know this information you can plan your calendar accordingly. If you have the type of job where you have this flexibility it will be relatively easy to do. If not, sit down with your boss and explain to him other how important it is to you to be able to catch Big Bass and see what they say. Heck invite them along, chances are nobody else has even thought to ask them. It can take a season or two to really get to know everyone but if you make a point to remember their names and call them by name you will be miles ahead of the others that just donít take the time. Also, get to know the rangers, They can be your best source of current feeding activity on the lake. As they make their rounds they may notice boils of stripers and bass feeding on planted trout.
How do you get started. First, you will need the right equipment. You can find this information in the archive files at http:// bassonhook.cjb.net or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the previous article.
A Brief Summary of the Article:
1) You need a stout rod. 15 to 20 lb. 7í or longer
2) A reel capable of holding 150 yards of 25 lb. test line
3) 25 lb. test line
4) Big Baits designed to imitate a planted trout
- Deep diving imitations
- Surface swimming imitations
5) If this is your first adventure with the big swimbaits you might want to start small. By that I mean start with the smaller trout pattern such as the 6" Basstrix Trout Bait, Color code T-200 and T-515. You will have no problem throwing this small bait with any of your flipping sticks or jig rods. Remember, the bigger the bait the bigger your BASS will be. As your confidence improves in this type of bait you can take the next step and invest in the gear described above that is designed to throw the 10" and larger trout imitations.
6) Learn how to fish these baits effectively. You can get every detail in our first article that was mentioned above and a brief summary follows:
How to fish the Trout Baits:
1) Slow! The operative word for fishing these big baits is SLOW!!! If you are fishing a top water imitation, make as long a cast as you can. Let the bait sit there several seconds even a minute. You may
get an arm jarring top water hit you will never forget. If not, just reel the bait slow until it gets to the boat and do it again and again.
2) If you are fishing the deepwater baits like the BASSTRIX a slow retrieve is also best. Let the bait fall to the bottom then slowly reel it to the boat. When you feel as though you have hit a snag such as a rock or log start winding on your reel like mad and sweep your rod sideways. This will ensure a positive hookset and virtually eliminate missed strikes. If you get over anxious and rare back to set the hook and miss the fish just stop reeling and let the bait fall. It looks like the trout is trying to get away and the Big Girl will usually pick it up again. REMEMBER, Reel and Sweep the rod sideways.
3) Vary your retrieve. If bouncing it off the bottom doesnít provoke a strike bring it up a little and then a little more. If your fish finder shows suspended bass at 20í down then fish this depth by allowing your lure to sink to the approximate depth and reeling the bait through the suspended fish. You can figure 7í- 1Oí of fall for every second you count if you are using the BASSTRIX 10" Trout Bait. Give the smaller baits a second or two more to get down to the proper depth. Now you realize how important it is to have both floating and sinking Trout Baits to cover all possible depths.
4) AREAS: You arc stalking Big Bass that are stalking the trout that were stocked for sportfishing. So, release points where the hatchery dropped off the trout is your first stop. Especially if you did your homework and got the right day and time. Outlying areas known to be good trout fishing holes would be next. As are areas that provide cover for trout wanting to hide from predatory bass. The list is long and varies with conditions. Results are what you are looking for.
5) Finally, and perhaps most importantly be persistent. Fishing for really Big Bass means going after them with baits only they will eat. Naturally, this means that you are eliminating all smaller bass you would normally catch. Consequently, your strikes will be fewer. But the strikes you do get will be from the Big Girls that have eyes only their mother could love.
Remember to practice "CPR" - Catch, Picture and Release.
Look for other articles written by Robbie in our Article Archives