Saturday, 28 July 2007

Have more fun and catch more bass

Fish Lake
Well it is that time of year again. The trout have retreated from the heat but bass are still happily cruising and looking for anything they can grab.

The place I live is known as The City of Lakes or as the folks down the road call it, The City of Flakes.

There are dozens of lakes throughout the city all brimming with bass and trout.


 I went out last night to do a bit of fishing and ended up just watching the variety of anglers who had gathered on the shore of the little lake next to where I was gassing up before heading out to my Secret Spot.

 It was interesting to observe the different skill levels and techniques being practised. Bass were rising regularly within reach of most anglers. Results varied but it was a very social and pleasant evening.

My feeling after watching this diverse group is simply that knowledge is power.
Those that take the time to learn a bit about their quarry will have more hook-ups than the chuck it and pray anglers.

Bass will start to move into a lake's shallower water, over gravel bars and around bushes once the water temperature reaches 60 degrees F. As the top water cools in the Fall they will go back to deeper water where its warmer, to stay within their preferred range. Somewhere between 60 and 7o degrees I think.

 During these hot July days, fishing from dawn until mid-morning and late afternoon until evening will be the most productive and pleasant. Concentrate on the shallows - five feet or less-and close to shore and cover. My rule of thumb is: the calmer the water, the longer the cast.

A popper or bug is simply deadly when bass are surface feeding. If you are fishing to a rise try and hit the rings. The bass is possibly cruising and won't necessarily be in that spot for long. When the bug has landed don't move it. Let it be still for a long count of ten. One and two and three... at about four the water will erupt beneath your bug.
Many rises to a bug are missed because there is slack line between your rod and the bug. Line control is the secret to bass fishing success and really to all fly fishing. Maintain positive contact between your fly and your rod to increase hook-ups. It is a thing I work on every time I'm fishing.
But, back to the bug. So its landed in the rings, you let it lie perfectly still and begin counting. If the fish doesn't come when you have reached ten, give the fly a twitch and start the count again.

If the cast was quick and accurate to the rise, the fish will usually come before the twitch.


 To perform the twitch or pop the popper, hold your rod tip low -this will speed your ability to strike by helping to pick up any slack quickly-give the line a quick, short jerk with your gathering hand and flick the tip of your rod.

Let the popper or bug lie still again and start your slow ten count. Tidy up any slack between you and the fly -without moving the fly- and remember keep the rod tip low.

If you are not casting to a rising fish use your knowledge of what the fish are doing to choose your target areas. If its hot and sunny look for shadowed cover such as lily pads or brush. Put the popper as close to the structure as possible, even bounce it off if you can. When it lands remember to keep it still, count to ten - then twitch it.
There are lots of tricks which start to make sense as you practise the technique. I will often land my bug or popper on a lily pad or rock, make a slow count and then twitch it into the water.

I'll cast from my belly boat into the one or two inches of water closest to the shore and retrieve towards deeper water. It always amazes me to connect with a big fish within a foot of the shore line but it happens often.
This is the time of year when the big terrestrials are available to the bass, so go big and don't be subtle.

I've always figured that there is an equation of survival that applies to all hunters. The calories burned to acquire the food must be less than the calories provided by the food.

 That is the thought that shapes my strategy when I'm stumped and trying to figure out what to try next.

So, think about what the bass is doing to find the biggest, easiest meal he can get.
Have fun. I hope these ideas will help you catch a few fish. Let me know if you have any tips that work for you.

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