Largemouth Bass

Bass in a Basket: Look Closer

Fishing Techniques
Bass fishing
PUT THE EGG FIRST, then choose from the jelly beans. Lots of lures catch fish, but location means the most.

Did you ever look closely in the holiday Easter Basket?

Nestled in the artificial grass are brightly colored jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks. When I look at bass fishing the way I look into a child's basket, I see all the elements of our game. The jelly beans represent all the wonderful, colorful lures we buy; the chocolate bunnies, all the fishing fads that come our way; and the marshmallow chicks, all the puffy, unsubstantial theories we try to sink our teeth in.

So what's left of any substance? Yes, it's those hard-boiled eggs. And while the image might be left to interpretation with their dyes and decorations, I think of them as the most meaningful part of the package. They represent the means of discovering and recognizing the key locations where bass may be caught.

Bass fishing
POINTS ARE APPARENT in green bushes and other cover from high above. Recognizing them at water level is crucial.

Sure, it's an oversimplification, but locating bass is really all about interpretation of various types of cover before we choose the lure best suited.

    I remember my first trip to Oregon and a lake covered end to end with lily pads. The locals said "Fish the pockets," but I saw nothing (at first) but a thick umbrella with no target to get to the fish below. I was looking for bay windows, but the fish required only portholes.

I remember my first trip to East Texas. They said, "Fish the timber points." In my home state, points were rocky promontories, so at first, I didn't recognize them in any other form. The term was much broader than my own experiences, so I learned, any protrusion of trunks or stumps (or any other type of aquatic growth) could serve as a "point."

In the crystalline Western waters, the experts said "Fish the shade," and I thought I knew what they meant. I fished the narrow shadows along the cliffs or the "dark spots" in the yellow shale bottom. But no, they also meant fishing even the shade of a passing cloud or subdued light below a thick school of suspended shad. Bass, you see, have no bias against the source of shadows.

When it comes to bass fishing, there will always be lots of jelly beans-but you need to pay attention to the eggs.