Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How to Get Spots Out

The great thing about my job is that I meet a lot of people who are great, and often relatively unknown fishermen who share my same passion for the sport. I've made some very close friends over the years through fishing and writing about fishing. The great thing about our friendship is that at any given moment we might call each other and say the bite is on at our local lake and invite the other over for some great fishing. Great fishing when I was a kid was all about catching a lot. Then it got to be catching a lot of big ones. Now it's more about catching some fish and having a good time with your friends and family.

So my buddy Ricky calls me and says the spotted bass are gorging themselves on shad and I needed to get down there.

"What should I bring?" I asked.

"Bring jerkbaits, shakey heads, some deep crankbaits and maybe a few spinnerbaits," he said.
I've been getting a lot of new tackle in the office so I wanted to bring some of it to the lake. I brought Optimum and Berkley swimbaits, Damiki spinnerbaits, drop shot and shakey head worms from Berkley and Roboworm, Lucky Craft jerkbaits and a few Lucky Craft DB20 crankbaits. I took three baitcasters and a spinning rod.

I hit the road around 4 a.m. on Friday morning and we were on the lake by 8 a.m. We fished maybe 20 minutes before Ricky had a keeper spot on a Lucky Craft jerkbait. We boated several on jerkbaits. Ricky caught a nice pair of 3 1/2 pounders on Headshaker jigheads with Wave Worm finesse worms. I caught a couple as well on shakey head Berkley PowerBait Hand Pour worms.

As the day progressed the fish got more active. We started fishing spinnerbaits and swimbaits off some shallow points in the howling wind and a giant spot nearly took the rod away from me. It hit a Berkley Hollow Belly swimbait. On the scale it measured 4.42 pounds, one of my biggest spotted bass ever. Not even 2 minutes later, Ricky hit an even bigger fish with a jerkbait. The fish tipped the scale at 5.12 pounds. By this time we had now boated a 20-pound limit of spotted bass. Unbelievable.

The next morning I was chomping at the bit to get on the water. It was 27 degrees when we launched from the ramp. The jerkbait bite we soon learned, was over. We managed one 3-pound spot on it early and that was all we could muster. We started fishing Optimum double diamonds and Berkley Hollow Bellies around deeper wood cover. Ricky was getting some jarring strikes on one retrieve when the fish got hooked up about 10 feet from the boat and broke his line on the hookset. They are so powerful and they hit those swimbaits like a ton of bricks.

I opted to fish a drop shot for a while as the water temperatures had gone from 58 to 52 degrees over night. And I focused on fishing a little deeper than we had been. I almost immediately hooked up with a nice 3 1/2 pound spot. Then moments later another nice one and then another.

Ricky put down the swimbait and grabbed a shakey head and went to schooling me. HE must have gone 10 casts in a row catching a bass on every one before he got his bait back unbitten.
We worked back up to where he broke that big spot off earlier and didn't do much. So I spun the boat around and fired a cast back to the deep spot we had been catching them. I picked up on the drop shot and it was tight. I set the hook and had that sensation that I was stuck. Then a powerful surge pulled the rod tip down into the water and I told Ricky to get the net because this was a big fish. After a lot of back reeling and playing of the fish, we netted it.

My biggest spot ever - a 5.28 pound behemoth. So fat she looked deformed. And all at once, my world was right again. Any of the negative talk about economies and retirement plans was all but a faint memory that day. And I was sporting a smile you couldn't knock off with a stick.

Another 18 pound limit of spots for our five best fish and for two days of nearly freezing temperatures and high winds, we managed to boat roughly 35 spotted bass with three over 4-pounds. You don't catch many bass weighing more than 4 pounds. And even less weighing more than 5 pounds.

If you compare it to the world records, catching a 5-pound spot is like catching an 11 1/2-pound largemouth or a 6-pound smallmouth. Three goals I've set for myself and two of which I can now say I've accomplished. All that is left is an 11 1/2 pound largemouth and my quest will be complete!

Here's hoping you get out and catch them. And remember it's not too cold yet. Bass still need to eat and they eat more than you think when the water cools.

Good Fishing!

Jason Sealock

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