* Springtime bass fishing - Secret Little Bass Pond - Barry Burt
Here it is the second week of March. Steelhead season is over on the San Lorenzo and the weather is pushing into the mid 70's. Time to check out some of our local ponds for some early springtime bass fishing.
Pre-spawn is always a challenging time to figure out what the fish are doing. Sometimes they're staging off of areas that drop off into deep water, but more often, they're moving back into the shallow coves with dark muddy bottoms that tend to warm up the quickest. The trick is to be there when the water reaches that magic temperature that sparks the bass spawn. That's when the fish get extremely aggressive and the fishing gets stupid good. It takes vigilance to be on the spawn and in these low water years, the window could be very narrow before the weeds start to really impede the use of flies to take bass effectively.
So Jeff (Yog) Goyert and I decided we would try to get a fix on just how close to that prime time we were. Yog showed up at my house at 'o dark thirty and we headed out to Barry's secret little bass pond. Shshsh, don't tell anybody. I had decided that I was going to fish my 12 foot crawdaddy with my electric trolling motor and Yog had his trusty Bucks Bag pontoon boat. I've never fished this lake with anything but my float tube but because of a back injury, I wasn't sure that I could kick the distance so I opted for my forebay boat. Big mistake. When we arrived at the lake, Yog discovered that he had left all of his rods back at my house. Luckily I usually fish the lake with at least three rods. One with a floating line, believe it or not, for fishing all my down and dirty stuff into the tules (too early for top water), one with a high speed sink tip for stripping bait fish patterns out and away and a spinning rod to throw senkos just in case I have to go to the dark side.
I offered Yog my sink tip rig and set him up with one of my fish mask baitfish patterns and sent him on his way off into the cove. I headed out around the point into the open lake and that's when I knew I had made a big mistake with the crawdaddy. The wind was blowing not terribly hard but just enough to make boat control a pain in the arse. Every time I'd make a perfect pitch into a tight pocket the boat would be blown just enough to cause a big bow in my line. I was spending 70 percent of my time trying to manage the boat and about 30 percent of the time fishing. I finally decided to scoot across to the other point of the cove and put the wind at my back. I made a short cast into a dark corner between the tules and a stand of willows and once again the wind blew me right up on top of my line.
By the time I took up the slack I was tight to a fish. It was probably the biggest fish of the day, a nice fat female loaded with eggs just getting ready to bed up. She put up a pretty spunky fight. She jumped a few times, but when I got her to the boat, I could see her bleeding from the operculum. The slack in the line allowed her to take the hook deep into her last gill raker and I knew she was a goner.
I radioed Yog and told him it was a pretty crappy way to start the day. It was only a couple of minutes later that Yog radioed me and said he was into his first fish. I fired up my motor and got there just in time to get a picture of his fish. Yog ended up catching the biggest bass he's caught on a fly rod in the very back shallows of that cove. Unfortunately I was out in the main lake way down a tuli line and wasn't able to get a picture of it. Yog don't take no selfies.
I ended up the day with a half a dozen bass, but the highlight for me was when I switched to the infamous Barry Bugger and not only took a bass on my second cast but four or five casts later took a chunky carp which put up the best fight of the day. I actually thought I had a really good bass on until I saw color. So now I'm able to add two warm water species that have fallen prey to the Barry Bugger along with cutthroat, rainbows, browns and steelhead. It wasn't a bad trip for the first of the season but I did learn three really important things: Number one, stick to the float tube for bass; Number two, the bass spawn is just around the corner, and Number three, never give Yog the keys to your car.
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