While putting together video for one of our courses, we recently had an epic day at Potholes as our best five went for 32.2. The kind of day people would travel to Clear Lake California for. Or Guntersville. Only it happened right here in our own neck of the woods. So here is the play by play of each of the five best for the day in five parts. I am going to break down each catch as if it was it’s own event, because, well it was! Hopefully with each part you can pick up a little bit of something to use on your next outing.
Fish #1 – 6.3 lbs. Largemouth
Rod: Fenwick Elite Tech 7’2″ MH; Moderate action
Our goal for the day was to demonstrate a way to approach the old dilemma of how long to stay on a area and when to leave. This is content that will be part of the PH 301 Course. So we talked about working fairly quickly over what we felt was prime area and then revist these prime locations if needed. There is a method for locating and catching these prespawn largemouth that we have been working on and we wanted to try and capture it for the course.
We arrived in the back of the west arm, near the job corp dike where we would begin our milk run. This is a good demonstration of “fishing fast-slow”…covering water quickly from prime spot to prime spot but then fishing relatively slow and methodical once we were there.
As I was arranging camera equipment, Ryan maneuvered us near our first dune top. Nearly entirely submerged, it looks like a thousand other areas at Potholes. Google Earth study and past experiences had verified that this dune top was one of a dozen or more we were going to focus on this day.
We often like to use a 1-2 punch of pitching a jig along with swimming a jig in the spring. Doesn’t matter the location, it is as good of a combination as we have used. In this instance, Ryan was doing the pitching and I was swimming. It could have easily been the other way around and often is, but Ryan was trying out a new pitching setup so I grabbed the swim jig. We find it best to go slow and steady with the swim jig in the early spring. In reality we are fishing a swim BAIT, with a skirt on it. So basic slow, steady swim bait retrieves are most effective.
I’ve been testing a Fenwick Elite Tech rod as a potential swim jig rod. I will have a full review and comparison out soon on this rod (along with a few others). While I feel this rod is exceptionally comfortable to throw (very light, and very accurate) I was a little concerned it may be on the light end in terms of handling a big bass, especially one around thick willow cover.
One of my favorite all-time cover situations is when the available cover forms a “point-pocket” or a horseshoe shaped pocket that has a point (end of the horseshoe) on either side. I like to hit both ends of the horseshoe as long as I have an angle to do it. In this case, I had two good angles. We like to try and run that swim jig into the outer edges of these points, not too deep, but still able to barely run into and bounce off of the willows that form that subtle point. With Ryan pitching, I went for the far horseshoe point. You can see I hadn’t made many turns of the handle when she hit.
In the clip that follows, you can see this largemouth gives me and this rod all it can handle (hence the censorship) as I was a bit surprised by the power of this largemouth and how much stress it was exerting on me and not being absorbed by the rod.
As you can also see, I was fortunate that I got that fish in my hand. The hook wasn’t buried well, and while I kinda blame the hook, it could be that the rod shares part of the blame. In the course, I talk about some of the causes of missed fish with a swim jig, as it has been a frustrating bait in terms of lost fish. This has prompted us to continue looking for the best rod, reel, and line setup as well as a jig and hook that gives us the best result. The hook on this Nichols jig, while having plenty of gap, is not as stout and beefy of a hook (including the barb) as the Dirty Jig “No Jack” swim jig. You’ll see that play out in other episodes as the rest of the day plays out.