Every year around this time, something magical happens. It’s as if a little pixie wearing a fishing vest goes around sprinkling magical dust on our favorite bass spots, and BAM! Lakes that once seemed like ghost towns suddenly teem with life.
The weeks after the magic happens, (actually caused by ideal water temperatures), feel like Christmas for bass anglers. When you go fishing this time of year, you know you are going to see fish. The only question is whether you can get them to bite.
After a busy spring, I finally had an open Saturday and jumped at the chance to take a morning bass safari. As I arrived at one of my favorite lakes, the water was pancake-flat. I could see fish cruising near the surface, so I tied on a top-water plug.
Pop, pop, pop, SLURP! Two casts in, my lure disappeared into the jaws of a relatively small but feisty largemouth bass. It looked as if the bass fairy had already paid these fish a visit!
As the sun crested the tree line, I switched to a plastic worm and started working my way down the bank. When I saw a respectable fish, I made a few casts. The bass continued to cooperate, and soon I had a dozen on the board.
You can learn a lot about bass by wearing polarized glasses and watching them hunt. If they turn toward your lure with speed, get ready to set the hook! If they approach your bait but don’t strike, try a few more casts in the vicinity. If they ignore it completely or swim away, try switching lures.
The size of a fish has a lot to do with how they react. Smaller fish aren’t usually picky. If you see one going after your bait and there are bigger fish around, reel in before the little guy gets it. Once older, wiser bass see another fish hooked, your cover is blown.
Large fish present the biggest challenge. They don’t get that big by being dumb. Stealth is key. If you can spot a fish before it sees you and lead it with an accurate cast, you’ve got a chance.
The fickle nature of a big bass — and the value of knowing their habits — came into play for my best catch of the day. This fish spotted me before I spotted him, and a game of cat-and-mouse ensued. He ignored my go-to tricks, so I retreated out of sight and waited.
With a large boulder obscuring me from the fish’s view, I tossed my trusty plastic worm back toward his lair. My line suddenly zipped to the left. Fish on!
Moments later, I landed a healthy 17-inch largemouth in my net. A friendly neighboring angler took a picture for me, and I thanked him with one of my lucky plastic worms. As we watched the fish swim back into the depths of the lake, it was the perfect ending to an awesome trip. It felt great to be back on the water — just in time for some summertime Idaho bass magic.