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from Hank Parker!

This is the time of year to go after that giant bass that you’ve dreamed about. Early spring is when the majority of giant bass are caught every year because they’re coming out of a long winter and are ready to feed.

All lakes hold far more big bass than most anglers realize. Some may not have a big-bass reputation, but if you go there during spring and look around the shallows, you’ll see plenty of giants that you never see the rest of the year. But to catch one, you have to stack the odds in your favor by fishing the best areas properly and with big-bass presentations.

Shallow water is the best place to begin looking this time of year. The big females are moving up into warmer water to enhance their egg development. Although bedding may not occur for several days, the big females will be there unless a cold front disrupts the water temperature.

In fact, I think shallow water is the best place to catch a big bass any time of the year. If you examine where the big bass are caught in tournaments, most come from shallow water and nearly always around cover. The fish are either in a bush, burrowed up in grass, or next to a big log or stump. That’s just the nature of where they live.

Trophy bass tend to be loners. They don’t run with the crowd and therefore often get caught in areas where schools of fish aren’t found. One thing you can bet, however, is that they will be in heavy cover or near it. All bass are ambush feeders, and big ones are no exception.

I also have found that rising stained water produces bigger fish unless it’s cold, muddy water. The dirty water gives bass a sense of security, and they tend to get more aggressive. That’s where I catch most of my big bass in the Carolinas.

Lure selection matters, too. More often than not, a jig flipped or pitched into heavy cover produces most big-bass bites. The reason is simple – a jig falling into cover triggers a reaction strike. The bass doesn’t have time to examine the lure or reject it. He just eats it when it falls abruptly into his face. Getting fish to react out of impulse is the best way to get a big one to bite.

As a rule, bigger baits produce big bass, with the exception being when spawning bass are locked onto beds. That’s about the only time a big fish prefers a smaller bait.

I once did a TV show in California with a big-bass expert who was throwing a giant swimbait that weighed about 9 ounces while I threw a smaller one. I caught more fish, but he caught bigger ones. Why? The 3- and 4-pounders I was catching rejected his lure. That gave the 8- and 10-pounders an opportunity to get it.

Keep that in mind when you’ve got a limit and want to catch bigger fish. Increase the size of your lure. You may not get as many bites, but the quality should improve.

I’ve also found that big fish tend to bite better on nasty-weather days. You may only catch one or two, but they often have some size to them. For some reason, big fish aren’t nearly as active on those pretty bluebird days.

Finally, if you know big bass live in an area, hit that spot several times. The key is to be there when the fish turn on or move into position where they are more readily caught.

In other words, be persistent. Sure, some guys get lucky and catch an occasional quality bass, but if you put yourself in a position to be lucky, you’re going to catch a lot more.