Fishing the conditions
While bass season has been open across much of the country for a while now, it only started this weekend in central and southern Ontario. So, if I can offer one single piece of advice, it would be this: Fish the local conditions this weekend.
Indeed, I spent all of the past week down in LaCrosse, Wisconsin where the Bassmaster Elite Series Mississippi Rumble tournament was taking place. I spent Tuesday in the boat with swim-jig wizard Bill Lowen and Wednesday with last year’s Bassmaster Elite Rookie of the Year Ott DeFoe. What surprised everyone is how far the bass season has already progressed this year, which is the result of the abnormally warm spring and early summer that we have enjoyed. The much warmer than normal water temperatures pulled the bass shallow much earlier, and they bedded on average three to five weeks ahead of schedule.
As a matter of fact, when we were out on the mighty Mississippi this week at LaCrosse, with a latitude roughly equivalent to the Muskokas, Kawarthas and Lake Simcoe, we spotted several balls of unguarded bass fry. This means the males have completed their nest protecting duties and are no longer guarding the young-of-the-year. Therefore, if you’re going bass fishing this weekend, you can’t rely on catching the fish where you may normally have caught them so early in the season before.
To emphasize that point, when I was out with Bill and Ott this week, they were employing summer fishing patterns more typical of July and August, fishing topwater frogs over the milfoil and flipping and pitching jigs below undercut banks. And yesterday, at the Day 2 weigh-in, buddy Aaron Martens was close to the lead and the $100,000 check to the winner, having caught all of his bass fishing a drop-shot rig in 10-plus feet of water.
Aaron remarked that there were so many bass bunched up in the spot he was fishing—a typical post-spawn phenomenon—that he “couldn’t move the worm an inch without catching a bass.”
The bottom line is simply this: Disregard the date on the calendar and the fact that opening weekend of bass season just passed. Fish the conditions. If you spot warm water temperatures on your sonar unit—the Mississippi River was running in the mid-70s—and you see balls of unprotected fry, try fishing the techniques and the locations you would normally fish two or three weeks from now. Unless your bass are smarter than ours, they have never looked at, seen or read a calendar. Instead, they are responding to the local weather, water and environmental conditions. And their surroundings are telling them that it is summer, not late spring.
Keep that in mind and you’ll be fishing way ahead of the crowd.