People complain about how a cold front can shut down good fishing, but there’s nothing worse than having a lot of anglers working a lake to put bass in a foul mood.
All of those trolling motors whirling overhead and constant bombardment of lures can kill a good day of fishing. Bass become conditioned to know that those sounds indicate danger, and they become much harder to catch.
That’s one reason pond fishing can be so enjoyable. Pond bass usually are unmolested and haven’t been educated to the ways of the angler. Therefore, a lot of lures or presentations that aren’t effective on public lakes can be deadly on ponds.
To enjoy better fishing on public lakes, go on Wednesdays and stay home on the weekends. Weekday bass will settle down and become more vulnerable to those tactics they shunned during the weekend. Of course, not everyone can do that, so we must adjust and fish smarter.
A good way to get more bites on pressured lakes is to downsize your lures, use lighter line and fish a more “direct” presentation.
Smaller baits in natural or translucent colors offer a more subtle image that is non-threatening to bass. This is really important in clear water.
I remember testing line in ultraclear water for Berkley several years ago. The fact that we proved bass could see line wasn’t that shocking, since most of us thought that was the case. However, what was more startling was that we determined fish can feel heavier line moving through the water. They knew before the bait even got to their ambush area that something wasn’t right and immediately went on the defensive. With smaller line, on the other hand, they remained more aggressive.
A more direct presentation goes against the way most of us were taught to fish. Instead of casting beyond a target and dragging the bait into it, put the bait directly into the sweet spot with the first cast in pressured situations. You’ll get a better impulse strike from a bass before it has time to think about it. If a bass is put on notice, it’s more difficult to entice it into striking. However, when a bait falls into his face suddenly, his instincts take over.
You’ve also got to make the first cast count. Don’t be overly anxious or make the cast before you’ve got the boat in the perfect position. If you’re casting at a log lying off the bank, wait until you’re aligned so the bait crawls against the log throughout the retrieve. If you don’t, you’ll only cover a small portion and any bass lying along the rest of the log will be alerted to your presence.
Current is another factor, whether it’s caused by a river, water being pulled through a hydro-electric dam or by the wind. Fish always face the current, so make sure your bait is moving with it.
When choosing places to fish, don’t be concerned about hitting the most popular spots. Lake Norman near my home gets hit hard every weekend by a lot of serious anglers. My son, Ben, has proven to me that you can get on the little points that nobody fishes, drag a Mann’s 4-inch Dragin’ Worm on a drop-shot rig and catch the fire out of them.
My best advice is don’t make many mistakes when fishing pressured bass. Exercise patience, make good casts and provide the bass with a little different look and you’ll catch fish that others can’t get to bite.