It’s About the Right Time, Right Place, Right Retrieve
By Ken Schultz
It was about 11:30 when the big bass struck, a time that I’m often off the water in summer. In hot weather I prefer to get an early start (and finish) and avoid the high bright overhead sun and heat. However, I hadn’t put my kayak onto this small and very shallow pond until 10 this morning.
This fish was hooked on a fairly light spinning outfit and immediately headed into the bushes, came out, went under the boat, came out, ran for deep water, came back, and finally succumbed. Over 21 inches long, it was dark and fat-bellied, and somewhere in the 5- to 6-pound range. I didn’t have a scale and my camera was tucked away, so I had to hold the thrashing fish in the water with one hand while rummaging around to set up my camera.
Like all eight of the fish I’d previously landed, the big bass was coaxed out of thick shoreline brush. I’d been teasing them with a clear 2-inch-long Heddon Tiny Torpedo, an oldtime surface plug that had lain unused in my tackle box for several years. But with near-calm conditions today and super-clear water, it seemed like something small but gently noisy, like a topwater plug with a rear propellor, might do the job.
In fact, when the 21-inch bass struck, I was thinking how nice it was for an old-time lure to be effective, since so much emphasis in the bass fishing world today is on new and often high-priced lures.
A few more largemouths struck the Tiny Torpedo before the action slowed and a light breeze made it harder to put the plug exactly where needed. So I switched to
another oldie-but-goodie, a gold Mann’s 1 Minus crankbait, to fish the shallow open water in the middle of the pond. About 1 o’clock I was startled by a near-5-pounder, which leaped and ran around the kayak twice before it could be lipped.
Although this super-shallow-running 1-Minus had not been neglected like the Tiny Torpedo, this particular 3-inch version hasn’t exactly been overworked lately. With a gold color, which is especially effective in tannen-darkened water, it can be dynamite over shallow vegetation and around other cover. Unfortunately, Mann’s doesn’t make the lure in this color any longer, and I’m going to be unhappy when mine bites the dust. Which nearly happened around 2 o’clock, just before I quit fishing.
I cast the 1 minus to the side of a tree, made two turns of the reel handle, and had a ferocious strike. A bass took the lure with such force, and streaked into the tangle of branches so quickly, that it instantly jerked my kayak(which has been pointed at the tree) into the tree branches. I couldn't attend to the fish out until I extricated myself and the kayak, and in the frantic commotion the bass snagged the plug on a limb and got free. In my judgment, it was much larger than either of the two bass I'd already caught.
Maybe I should have anchored the kayak before casting to that spot. Maybe I should have been using a no-stretch braided line instead of a low- stretch monofilament.
Maybe I'll fool it next time with a Texas-rigged plastic worm. Or a Tiny Torpedo.
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