You don’t want to look in my fishing journal.
The last several pages include me. Rambling. Being mad. Being discouraged. Making excuses. Whining.
It’s taken me a few days to process this. As an angler that fishes from the bank most of the time, I’m perplexed. We know that it’s not uncommon for largemouth bass to move offshore in the summer months. However, this year… they have been missing for an extended period of time.
I’m talking from late July to mid-September… with a few lucky days mixed in; the bass decided to come in close enough for me to reach them with a long cast.
I keep thinking it will turn around, they’ll come in close, along the rip-rap shorelines I love to crank…but so far… no such luck.
The smallmouth bass have all but left my creeks as well! Water has been very low, and when it does rain it blows everything out so bad that by the time it settles back down to where I can fish it – they’re just… not there.
A few days ago I decided it was time to bring ‘Ol Jonnie Boy out of the garage…
He’s been in there all year. Not because I don’t want to fish from him, but because with every trip, we need to make decisions about how we plan to maximize our limited time on the water. For the last few years, bank fishing has been… well… awesome.
This is the first time that conditions have changed enough to really put me in a bind.
To date, fishing offshore in Illinois and marking bass deep was something I did for fun.
To mix it up a bit.
Now… now it’s a necessity.
Time to Scout New Lakes and Find Fish
When things change and stop going your way – it’s the perfect time to go explore a location you’re not very familiar with.
Just make sure your expectations are realistic.
You might catch a 5-pounder… but… chances are you won’t. That’s not a big deal though if your goal is to find fish, explore a body of water to better understand it, learn a bit more about the baitfish, bottom composition and available cover.
You know, stuff that bass care about.
If this is your aim, you will come away smarter, better equipped to dissect that body of water the next time you visit, and have much better luck locating and catching some fish.
There are some deep borrow pit lakes about an hour from here, and I know there are big largemouth bass in there. I’ve seen them. Moving out from little feeder creeks, dropping deep – well underneath my boat. This lake has been avoided this year, because I can’t fish it from shore and the drive is substantial… but with the shore bite completely turned off everywhere else, perhaps this is the promised land?
I’ll start exploring it tomorrow morning – with realistic expectations.
Scouting Presentations for Largemouth Bass
The jon boat will come out next week. Still need to get the new electronics installed. I’ll share a couple of tricks I plan to employ when I’m with ‘Ol Jonnie… but tomorrow, it’s going to be a yak attack. This means we’ll be limited to 1 pole, and a small bag with simple presentations – much like fishing a creek.
Here’s the plan:
I’ll start to explore close to shore and about 15 feet out with a Pop ‘n Drop. See if I can call any bass up, or if they’re tucked in close for some reason. I’ll use one of these two combinations – not sure which one yet:
This will allow me to pull a small stickbait behind a popper. Probably a 4″ Strike King Ocho, which has been a top producer for me the last few years. (That’s why it’s in my Top 4 Stickbaits for Largemouth Bass.) I’ll hit it with some Dr. Juice Bass Attractant, and I have been playing around with the idea of adding some small floats next to my popper so it can carry more weight – if this works (and it isn’t another Pop ‘n Drop Failure) I’ll be able to pull a Zoom Zlinky around… which would be awesome! My line? No question, fluorocarbon is the way to go. This lake is deep and clear.
It’s going to be challenging.
After this, depending on what happens, we’ll go deep. The shoreline is steep, and this is an old pit – I’m thinking some variation of shaky head with a worm will bring up the rear… but I haven’t decided which one yet.
What is your favorite shaky head plastic?
This afternoon - after work - I'll dedicate some time to getting ready.
Instead of sticking with what I know - with what isn't working - we'll pivot.
We'll make better use of our limited time.
Learn more about a body of water that requires more of an investment to fish.
It's going to take some extra effort and additional windshield time... but we will find bass. I can feel it. So yeah... it'll be tough, but... if it was easy... everyone would do it.
Tight Lines & Godspeed, Patriots.