Fishing & Boating News

Spoon feeding bass

by: Babe Winkelman, Babe Winkelman Productions

(Apr. 26, 2011 - ) When I lipped the 5-pound largemouth, I couldn't resist. I looked up at my friend Jerry and with a twinkle in my eye I said "are you sure you're not ready to switch?" Jerry just shook his head. He couldn"t bring himself to admit what he knew he should do.

Let me hit rewind on this story for a second. Jerry and I were fishing a favorite lake for largemouth bass. The weather pattern had been consistent, and recent bites had been on the weedline - served up with soft plastics onjigworms (wacky rigs) or Texas rigged. So naturally, we began picking apartsome proven cabbage beds for bass. Nothing. I mean, not a bite.

"Maybe they moved up into the slop," we discussed. Nope. Weedless plastics,frogs, rats and spinnerbaits produced only a couple of 11-inch fish. It's nofun skipping those across the surface. So we moved out into the main lakebasin and scratched our heads. "They've gotta be deep," we agreed.

After some extensive scouting with the sonar, we located some fish on adeep, expansive mid-lake flat. You can't always identify a species by theway they show up on the graph, but all indications were that they were bass- based on the way they were scattered within the bottom five feet of thewater column. Walleyes would typically be hugging bottom midday, andcrappies would have been more suspended. So it was worth a try to verifythat we had found bass.

The fish were down about 25 feet, so our first logical tactic was to jig forthem. We each tied on a totally different jig. Me with a grape-colored grubtail jig; and Jerry with a chartreuse hair jig. When trying to dial in aparticular bite with a buddy, it"s always a good idea to each use differentpresentations. If one pops and the other doesn't, it speeds up the processof figuring out the fish and their flavor of the day.

Jerry was on the board first, with a 2-pounder. But after an additional halfhour of casting, nothing bit. At that point I deduced that chartreuse mightbe the color, but jigs weren"t doing it. So I tied on a firetiger-patternspoon to see what that would do. "Uh Babe, we're not chasing pike here"Jerry said.

Not surprising. Because when most people think about spoons, they thinkabout throwing big Daredevles for Canadian shield northern pike. Or theyequate spoons with downriggers and Great Lakes salmon, trout and steelhead.But few anglers immediately think about spoons for bass. They should!

Think about it, a spoon has a big, natural baitfish profile, tons of flashand a good thumpy wobble that throws off a lot of vibration. Why WOULDN'Tspoons be dynamite on bass? The truth is, they are. I"ve caught tons(probably literally) of bass on spoons, particularly in conditions when thebass had roamed from vegetation to main lake structures. In thosecircumstances, there's no worry about the spoon's treble hook getting hungup in cover.

Other advantages to spoon fishing include long casting and versatility.Spoon cast forever, because of their weight and inherent aerodynamics. Inwindy conditions that stops a crankbait or spinnerbait in mid-flight, aspoon slices right through the gusts. And when you"re fishing big flats withscattered fish, like Jerry and I were, long casts are crucial when trying tocover a lot of water.

As for versatility, spoons can be fished at any depth and at virtually anyspeed. You can skip them on top; bulge them just beneath the surface; wobblethem at any depth within the water column; let them tick bottom; or evenfish them vertically. A spoon is quite literally the world"s most do-alllure!

Anyway, after Jerry finished criticizing my bait selection, I made afootball-field-length cast and let the spoon settle to the bottom. Then Igave it a "snap-jig" movement followed by about 10 feet of retrieve; then aflutter back to the bottom; followed immediately by another SNAP. On thefourth snap in this sequence, a fat 4+ pounder pounced on the spoon. Jerryshook his head. "Fluke," is the word he used I think.

After a half dozen more fish had fallen to my crazy notion of using a spoonfor bass, Jerry was muttering a different word that began with F. When Iboated that five-pound beast I mentioned at the beginning of this column,Jerry finally swallowed his pride and asked "do you have another one of themspoons?"

"Nope," I said. "It's my only one."

Jerry didn't know it then, but he'll find out now. I had four spoons justlike that one in my box. Sorry Jer.

Good Fishing!

Babe Winkelman