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Muad Dib

how to catch sunbathing bass?????????

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was at the lake today in ny. the temp was around 39-40 degrees. sunny with a slight wind 5mph. in the morning theres wasnt any activity in the shallows or in the mid depths. couldnt find any fish nor catch any all day. then around 1 to 2 ish we wanted to see if any fish were in the 6-7 foot range of water and as i was trolling i saw a school of about ten 3-4lbers basking in the sun!!!! they were within a foot of one another. ive never seen anything like that they were just sitting on the bottom. as i cruised around  i noticed more fish in open sand spots between the cabbage and lettucs just sitting on the bottom. so how should i attack the area to catch those sun bathers! i was throwing a fat free shad crank at them and ripping through but was getting caught every other cast and considering the temp they werent too eager to follow. it felt like the right approach but no hits. and they were spooky WHAT SHOULD I DO!

t-rage

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Very common this time of the year....and very frustrating! Best bet is to back off....way off! Once you have them located, you can actually leave fro 1/2 hr. or so and come back. If you've seen them....they've seen you. No hope of triggering them. When you return....STEALTH is the key. Sneak up them VERY slowly. Stay very low....with the sun at your back if possible. Cast very lite lures or better yet, this is when that 3" Senko can be dynomite on a lite spinning rig with 6# test fluorocarbon line. It can be done, but one tap on the boat and it's all over. Good Luck!

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Yes, as Crestliner said, this is very common this time of year. I saw an 8 lb'er sunbathing yesterday. Couldn't even get her to play with me, with a tail-hooked, fly-lined crawler..... But with about 1 out of maybe 10, I can. I don't know of anything else that's even that effective. In other words, getting a 'sun-bather' in cold water to play with you is a daunting task, at the very least.

In fact, if you can get a bait in front of it without spooking it off, you have already done something pretty impressive.... and you still have to get it to eat.

Peace,

Fish

PS, BTW T-Rage, is that an NY bass your holding in your avatar ? That would be a nice one from "anywhere" but an absolute hawg from NY ! Can you post a bigger picture of that fish here ?

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ya im gonna give some super finesse skills a shot tomorrow. thanks about the fish compliment . came out to be 7.2lbs and for ny thats great considering the record is 11 something. but the pic makes it look a little bigger too. nice fish u got there urself!

2202954720102216189S500x500Q85.jpg

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Nice fish T-Rage ! I bet that fish is 15 years old, or more ! Still looking quite healthy though.

Peace,

Fish

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T-Rage,

Those were a winter pre-spawn female group.

How deep were these fish?

Crestliner offered good advice concerning stealth. Also, they may be impossible with lighting you can see them in. Fish the area later after the sun gets lower, and/or pray for clouds or a rippling breeze. You may have to search the area for them. Do not let casts land anywhere near them. Plan your splashdown areas.

Some options:

-A small jerkbait (lots of options there).

-A swimming worm retrieved above them.

-A smallish jig (marabou or marabou) with a pork strip trailer.

-A small 4inchworm on a jighead swum just over them -not through them.

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paul to answer some of your questions-

I believe they were in about 4-6 feet of water.

it was really sunny and no wind! so it made it easy to see them

and how do you know they are all females versus males?

Would crankbaits work better when the water warms up moremaybe around 47 degrees at 10 feet?

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T-rage what lakes you fishing this early???...I see in your pic that you have a Cortland shirt on, I live about 15-20 min from Ithaca. I just graduated from Oneonta last year.

I like to fish the smaller shallow lakes after ice out and the fish always seem sunbathing around wood in the afternoon, I've done the best the last few years by backing off and tossin a baby brushhog or sweet beaver on light line, both with 1/16-1/8oz weight.

I have not been out on the lakes yet because I dont want to take my boat out of storage until I'm sure spring is here to stay. The lake I'm waiting for(cayuta) is still iced over anyway.

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i graduated in 04' and now i teach in dutchess county and im currently fishing some local ponds/lakes here. im sorry u went to ithaca u shoulda came to cortland! hahaha those are some nice pigs u got there in ur pics

trage

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how do you know they are all females versus males?

Females get larger than males. I don't know your water, but I lived in NY, including Ithaca, for a long time. At 3-4lbs those would be the size range for older adult females in most waters. It's the same here in CO. There can be some bigger, but the common run tends to reach about that size.

You can recognize older mature females in two ways:

-They have swollen pearly white bellies.

-They have large wide heads, especially noticeable when they swim toward you. I call it Bull-headed.

In the waters I know, males are mostly 13 to 15 inch fish, and they are thinner and smaller headed than females. Larger males might be mixed in with females, until closer to spawn time, but I have no way of being certain.

It's still early where you are I'm about two weeks ahead of you. I'll say this: If you've got a lot of males comprised of 3 and 4lb fish (18 and 19inches), then I would work my butt off to find those older females. My guess, though, is that those are mostly females, and that you have a pretty decent northern pond growth-wise.

Just for shock value: I fished a small pond in NY that gave up two 5's (21"), a 6 (22"), and a 7 (23") in one summer! There is a large pond here in CO that has the common run of mature females at 6 to 7lbs, and has given up a 13 (25")! :o So...who knows what you've got. But, most likely, those bass you saw are (at least one group) of the females in that pond.

Oh yes: Most "sun bathing" bass I've seen are much shallower as surface temps are only skin deep at this time. The fact that it was calm allows water to heat best. Look for these fish to move shallower, and the become more vulnerable, when the sun to gets lower in the evening, or clouds move in. Are there 'bluegills hugging the shoreline nearby?? They are the even more serious heat lovers than bass. It's a really great combination in bluegill/bass ponds in early spring.

There is likely a scenario there that is holding those bass: heat and sunfish. I'd make a habit of fishing that spot blind (not sight fishing it), and others like it. A suspending jerk is just great for this. As is a Mepps Aglia, Slug-Go/flukes, or a jig -to give a spectrum of speeds. If you've got good warming, speed may be necessary. If it's cold, slower is better.

Just some guesses from 1500 miles away LOL! But I think we are seeing the same stuff. Do let me know what comes.

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i know its not fun, and considered cheating, but the best way to catch those sun bathers is with a net. lol

on a serious note, i would try a worm rigged up on a drop shot.

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thanks paul and fellas i always appreciate your insight! the lake is about 150 acres pretty small compared to the big water but it goes 140 feet deep so theres tons of other fish in it. im gonna give it a few days and hit it up again this weekend with those strategies. and ill be sure to let u know what happens

trage

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Had great luck this past weekend throwing beaver craws on a 3/16 oz spot remover. Pinchers together or apart, it did not matter.  They had to be fished slow across the bottom. All fish were caught in 1-5 ft. of water and on the sunny side. If some of the other techniques mentioned don't pan out it may be worth a try. Good luck.

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Maybe try a 4 or 5 inch floating lizard on a carolina rig and bring it across the top of them.

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With the water under 55 degrees the largemouth bass are still in the cold water period, not pre spawn IMO. The fact they are schooled and deep on sandy bottom also means they are not there for warmth, they would be within a foot of the surface.

Pre spawn cruisers that move up and cruise, then move back down are very catch able fish. Bass suspended just off the bottom durinmg a transition period are usually adjusting their air bladders after coming up from deeper water during the cold water period. About 2 days and those bass will be active feeding. When bass are inactive, use in their face small natural looking lures to induce a strike. Always remember; if you can see the bass, they see you. I would back off and blind fish them with a casting jig or slip shot rig, during the mid day and use a swimbait/wake bait during the low light period.

Fly lined big night crawler or crawdad is hard to top, if live bait is your thing.

WRB

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