BULLETIN: I just got word that I had a 1.5 day cancellation for next Tuesday afternoon (1/2 day) and Wednesday (full 8 hr day) which is March 31st and April 1. We have been catching lots of bass plus some nice bass as well...this week we had a 9.7 pounder, a 9.4 pounder, an 8.2 pounder, a 7 pounder and five between 5 and 6 pounds. The past two weeks we have averaged over 25 bass a day. You can reach me through my email email@example.com or 337-463-3848. Thanks.....Joe
Hello fellow anglers....wow what a blast we are having on south Toledo as last week was one of the best weeks in 2-3 years as far as numbers of bass caught. The water level remains high and looks like it will remain so for a while. A full lake in the spring always makes it better as far as I am concerned. It give the bass more room to spawn and there are a huge number of bass shallow and many are in the process of bedding (spawning). Top water lures are coming into play as well as spinnerbaits but by far our bass are largely coming off soft plastics. Check out how we are catching fish in the "Fishing Reports" section of this column.
LAKE CONDITIONS: The lake level is 172.7 feet with one generator running 24 hours. North Toledo remains muddy, mid-lake is heavily stained(backs of creeks muddy) and south Toledo is mostly clear with some stained areas in back of major feeder creeks. Water temperatures are running 58/60 on main lake to 65-67 degrees in coves.
THOUGHTS ON BED FISHING: We have had bass on beds for the past week and a half on south Toledo and even longer north of the bridge as heavy warm rains (7-9 inches) the second week of March moved water temperatures up in a hurry. On March 9 the water temp was in low 50s then one week later after the warm rains, it was up to 58-60 degrees and the bass moved shallow with the warm, rising water. Currently, we are targeting pre-spawn bass and will soon start to target post-spawn bass as well. I don't "sight fish" as those of you following this column for years know my philosophy on that. It is legal but I had rather catch my bass using other methods.
If you wish to learn my take on sight fishing please go to my website (address is at the end of this column) and click on "Fishing Articles" and look for an article entitled Not By Sight. Many of my close fishing buddies do sight fish and that is their choice but there are two strong schools of thought on the subject. Simply put, I think it is showing a lack of respect for bedding bass to get to within 10 feet from their beds and cast repeatedly to the bed (sometimes for as long as 45 minutes) until the bass is finally agitated into striking the lure. It does take skill and know-how to effectively sight fish and some anglers are very skilled at this technique. That does not mean that I have any personal animosity toward those who practice this technique. However, I will continue to voice my opinion on this matter. Every spring I mention this controversial pattern of bass fishing and I always get some strong response both agreeing with me as well as apposing my view. Basically, I am always delighted each spring when sight-fishing season is over. This spring will be no different.
On the top water pattern, one of the most fun is Stanley's Top Toad frog which I love to work on/through/around shoreline grass. I also like to work a walking bait along the edge of a grassy point as well as over shallow ridges with grass, especially early mornings and during cloudy conditions. I like a Spook as well as a Baby Spook in shad patterns and I work them on 17 lb. test Big Game mono as well as 30 lb. Spider Braid. The topwater pattern will slow some following a cool front.
As I mentioned earlier, we are catching most of our bass on soft plastics and one of our patterns is to work a Texas rigged weightless soft plastic tied on to a medium heavy 7'3" Veritas or 7'2" Fenwick Elite rod to work over, around and through shallow grass from 1 to 10 feet. My favorite soft plastics for Texas weightless include Berkley Havoc Flat Dawg, Berkley Jerk Shad, 5 inch Yamamoto Senko and D Shad. These will all catch fish and some days one will out fish another so I just keep changing baits and presentations until the bass tell me what they want for lunch. One thing I have is confidence concerning Toledo and don't panic when the bite slows. I just keep fishing quality structure and make slight changes in baits and presentations until I figure out what and how they want it.
Wacky rigs are also producing and we are using a variety of set-ups to fish wacky rigs. One standard is 10 and 12 lb test Big Game mono as well as 100% Berkley Trilene Pro Grade Fluorocarbon on a Revo or Orra (both by Abu Garcia) spinning reel with a Fenwick Elite or Veritas spinning rod. The Orra/Veritas combo is slightly cheaper without sacrificing much quality. If u have read our reports before you we love Daiichi's 2 and 3/0 Round Bend straight shank high carbon worm hooks for wacky rigging. I describe these as 'a crappie hook on steroids' as they resemble the shape of a crappie hook. We use scores of these each year.
Small crankbaits are also coming into play with Bill Norman's standard Baby N and Deep Baby N plus Sebile's Squarebill Sunfish and Bill Lewis's new crankbait the Echo 1.75. I run all of these on 10 and 12 lb Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon. As you can see, there's multiple methods to catch bass this week on my favorite fishing hole. I've noticed there never is a worry when my rod is bent. Also, I did some research and found at least 7 of Jesus's 12 disciples were fishermen so we are in pretty good company. Thank God for fishing!
CRAPPIE: Crappie will be shallow for the next several weeks with jigs and live shiners working in shallow grass from 4 to 12 feet. Night fishing from lighted docks is also very productive with both live shiners as well as jigs underneath a cork in the outside edge of the light. In addition, strolling a jig on outside edge of grass in large coves with drains is also productive. 1/16 ounce crappie jigs as well as Blakemore's Road Runners are excellent choices for strolling behind the boat (using electric trolling motor) to ease the boat along over points and flats with grass.