Never Give Up On That LunkerNever Give Up On That Lunker Ever see a bass but couldn't get him to bite? You might catch him next time if you follow these tips.
By Don Colabatistto
It was already June 5th and the bass were not fully spawning like other years. The daytime temperature was barely 55 degrees and a lot colder during the night. It was a bright sunny morning and the water was clear as glass. The weeds have not even begun to grow. Welcome to western New York.
As I looked over the bridge I could clearly see the bottom. Where are all the bass? Boy was I frustrated. Last year at this time I was hooking a lunker on every cast. Looking 20 feet down from the bridge I was pondering what to do.
There he was, 10 feet from shore, had to be a good 5- or 6-pounds. Heart pounding, I slowly walked off the bridge and climbed over the railing to get a better look. He was a golden bronze color. As I got closer, I could see the reddish eyes. That has to be the largest smallmouth bass I have ever seen!
"There is no way I am ever going to get him to bite," I thought to myself. "The water is too clear and he is looking right at me."
As I ran to my Jeep I could hardly contain myself. My Ugly Stick was already set up with a Power Bait salamander and a small weight close to the hook - perfect for summer fishing when it's hot and the water is not so clear. I looked at it in frustration, too excited to change to a spinner bait or crank bait.
I walked up the shoreline about 20 feet, turned back and could still see him clear as a bell. If I could see him, surely he could see me. Another 20 feet still plain as day. Experience has taught me don't even bother trying in these conditions. I chuckled to myself, "Well I'll be back another day" and continued to walk up the shoreline of the inlet, or outlet depending upon which direction the water is flowing.
One of these days I'll find out if this is an inlet or outlet to Canandaigua lake. This has got to be the strangest stream of water in the world. One side comes out of the north end of Canandaigua lake very fast, the other side (the side I am on) flows fast towards the lake, and the center sort of swirls almost creating a whirlpool. Well anyway, I walked towards the lake and decided to cast a couple in the fast water not really expecting much, but who cares, I am just glad to be fishing.
I could not get my mind off of that lunker. What's the point in these conditions? Cold water, no weeds, water so clear you want to take a drink. Wasn't even a bush to hide behind. Then I remembered a conversation I had with a fishing buddy about the difference we have experienced between bass and trout. The conversation in a nutshell went something like this:
"If a trout sees you it will never bite, but if a bass sees you, you can taunt him enough to get him to bite."
That's all I needed to get me to go after that lunker, still very doubtful of my fishing ability. I crept to within 20 feet of where he was and cast my salamander about 3 feet behind him. The current just brought it back to shore. Another cast right in front of his nose. I could see that huge golden body swirl as he went for it. Shucks, he just snubbed at it. After about ten more casts all around him, some even bouncing off his head, I decided to try a different color Power Bait.
An hour later I had finished going through every color of the rainbow with one left to try: motor oil. Still nothing, I tried reeling fast, slow, deep, shallow, and every trick I know that has worked in the past. Finally I decide to try a couple of casts reeling very fast to get him stirred, and then just dropping it, letting it sit right in front of his face.
Finally he grabs and takes off! My heart was racing as I brought my pole forward and set the hook. Wow he is huge! He gets about ten feet from me, jumps about 2 feet out of the water and spits out the bait!
I was beginning to wonder who was doing the real taunting. But, I was not ready to give up yet.
As I ran back to my Jeep, I was contemplating using a spinner or crankbait. Spinners and crankbaits had failed me in the past when the water was this high and fast. I decided on a crankbait. A different lure to be sure, but I used the same technique - a couple of casts reeling very fast, then drop it in front of his nose.
"YES!" I yelled as I set the hook deep, fearful my 8-pound test would snap. After a five minute battle, I snatched him by the gills and proudly held him up.
Finally after two hours of taunting each other I had become the victor. If there was ever a fish worthy of being released this was the one. I removed the hook and gently placed him back in the water. It was the largest small mouth I have ever caught.
Five minutes later where is he? Right back in the same spot. I learned the greatest fishing lesson in my life that day: never give up on that lunker.
Grow your fishing skills and improve your angling effectiveness.
Subscribe to the free weekly BassResource newsletter.