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 "no." 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 on jigworms (wacky rigs) or Texas rigged. So
naturally, we began picking apart some proven cabbage beds for bass. We caught
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 no fun skipping those across the surface. So we moved
out into the main lake basin and scratched our heads.
"They've gotta be deep,"
Find Fish On Deep Flat
After some extensive scouting with the sonar, we located some fish on a deep,
expansive mid-lake flat. You can't always identify a species by the way 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 the water column.
Walleyes would typically be hugging bottom midday, and crappies would have been
more suspended. So it was worth a try to verify that we had found bass.
The fish were down about 25 feet, so our first logical tactic was to jig for
them. We each tied on a totally different jig. Me with
a grape-colored grub tail jig; and Jerry with a chartreuse hair jig. When
trying to dial in a particular bite with a buddy, it's always a good idea to
each use different presentations. If one pops and the other doesn't, it speeds
up the process of figuring out the fish and their flavor of the day.
Jerry was on the board first, with a 2-pounder. But after an additional half-hour of casting, nothing bit. At that point I deduced that chartreuse might be
the color, but jigs weren't doing it. So I tied on a fire-tiger-pattern spoon
to see what that would do.
"Uh, Babe, we're not chasing pike here," Jerry said.
That comment was not surprising from him because when most people think
about spoons, they think about throwing big Dardevles
for Canadian shield
northern pike. Or they equate spoons with downriggers and Great
Lakes salmon, trout and steelhead. Few anglers immediately
think about spoons for bass, but they should!
Think about it -- a spoon has a big, natural baitfish profile, tons of flash
and a good thumpy wobble that throws off a lot of
vibration. Why WOULDN'T spoons be dynamite on bass?
The truth is, they are. I've caught tons (probably
literally) of bass on spoons, particularly in conditions when the bass had
roamed from vegetation to main lake structures. In those circumstances, there's
no worry about the spoon's treble hook getting hung up in cover.
A Versatile Lure
Other advantages to spoon fishing include long casting
and versatility. Spoons cast forever because of their weight and inherent
aerodynamics. In windy conditions that stops a crankbait
or spinnerbait in midflight, a spoon slices right
through the gusts. And when you're fishing big flats with scattered fish, like
Jerry and I were, long casts are crucial when trying
to cover a lot of water.
As for versatility, spoons can be fished at any depth and at virtually any
speed. You can skip them on top; bulge them just beneath the surface; wobble
them at any depth within the water column; let them tick bottom; or even fish
them vertically. A spoon is quite literally the world's most do-all lure!
Anyway, after Jerry finished criticizing my bait selection, I made a
football-field-length cast and let the spoon settle to the bottom. Then I gave
it a "snap-jig" movement followed by about 10 feet of retrieve; then a flutter
back to the bottom; followed immediately by another snap. On the fourth snap in
this sequence, a fat 4-plus-pounder pounced on the spoon! Jerry shook 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 spoon
for bass, Jerry was muttering a different word that began with F. When I boated
that 5-pound beast I mentioned at the beginning of this column, Jerry finally
swallowed his pride and asked "do you have another one of them spoons?"
"Nope," I said. "It's my only one."
Jerry didn't know it then, but he'll find out now. I had four spoons just
like that one in my box. Sorry Jer!
For an assortment of Babe Winkelman fishing DVDs, click here.
For a fine assortment of fishing gear, click here.
Editor's Note: Babe has shared his love of the outdoors with TV viewers for more than 25 years. Babe will share his tips and outdoor adventures weekly on sportsmansguide.com. In 1984, Babe's "Good Fishing" program debuted and later his "Outdoor Secrets" show became popular with hunting enthusiasts. Babe's programs appear on the Outdoor Life Network, WGN, Fox Sports Net, Fox College Sports, The Men's Channel, Sportsman's Channel, Great American Country, WILD TV, and Comcast. Babe also writes hunting, fishing and conservation columns that are carried by up to 350 newspapers each week. Winkelman sponsors include Chevrolet, Miller High Life, Johnsonville Brats, Crestliner Boats, St. Croix Rods, Browning, Hunter's Specialties, Nikon, Minn Kota, Optima Batteries, Mathews, Honda, and many more.