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Summer Fish Care

In light of the recent heat wave here in Ohio, I wanted to share some of my past advice on taking care of your fish this time of year.  Whether you are a tournament angler, or just hitting the local pond for a couple hours of bass fishing, here are some tips for making sure your fish are released alive and well this summer.

Tournament Fish Care Tips

You see it all the time at both the professional and amateur levels.  A guy brings 5 nice ones to the scale and takes over the lead…but wait…he has a dead one.  And that dead fish just cost him a thousand dollars in purse money!

As we approach July, the bass here in Ohio are officially through the spawn and have settled into both post-spawn and full-out summer patterns.  The driving factor in determining the seasonal pattern for these fish is water temperature.  With water temperatures reaching the high 70’s and low 80’s, it is extremely important to take care of your bass.  Mortality rates reach much higher levels with water temperatures in this range, and as tournament fishermen know, dead bass equal lost money in a tournament.  Depending on the tournament, I have seen dead fish penalties ranging from a 4 ounce reduction in your weight, all the way to having to cull your largest fish.

There are several steps you can take on the water to increase the chances that your fish won’t perish during a long 8 hour tournament in July or August.  These measures do not take a lot of time, and can save you much heartache at weigh-in time.

Step 1:  Cool Water Temperature and Run Livewell Pumps

If you can remember to bring ice with you, try to cool your livewell water down 10 degrees.  Cooler water holds more oxygen.  I know a guy who even uses a small aquarium thermometer to make sure he gets water temperatures cooled to the appropriate level.  If you don’t feel like bringing bags of ice, simply freeze some plastic water bottles and throw them into the livewell.

Once the water has been cooled, put the livewell pump on recirculate.  Every 2-3 hours replace at least half of the water by pumping out the old and pumping in the new.  After new water has been pumped in, re-cool it.  Replacing your water will restore oxygen levels and will remove ammonia from the water.  High ammonia levels can kill your fish.  If possible, fill your livewell with water from the main lake, as this part of the lake is usually cooler and has higher oxygen levels in the summer.  Avoid filling your livewell in shallow backwaters.  This water is often low in oxygen this time of year.  Also, definitely avoid filling your livewell near boat ramps.  It doesn’t take a scientist to guess that these areas have high pollutant levels.

Step 2: Livewell Additives

Livewell additives can help stressed fish recover during their stay in your livewell by increasing oxygen levels in your water, and adding much needed electrolytes and nutrients.  Preferred livewell additives include Rejuvenade, Please Release Me, and simple hydrogen peroxide.  Before using any of these additives be sure to thoroughly read the directions, as over application can actually harm your fish.  There are several good websites on using hydrogen peroxide.  Just Google it.

Rejuvenade

Step 3:  Handling Your Catch

At all times your catch should be handled gently.  Try to minimize the amount of contact you make with your fish.  Every time you put your hands on a bass you are removing its protective slime, which can lead to infection.  When I catch a keeper during a tournament I try to get it into the livewell as soon as possible, which reduces the amount of stress you are putting on your fish.  The same goes for culling your fish.  Try to cull as quickly as possible (using culling clips will help, see below).

Step 4: Weighing-In

Before I transfer my fish to my weigh bag I take a look at the weigh-in line.  If the line is long, I wait to bag my fish.  The less time your fish are in the weigh bag, the better your chances of weighing in 5 alive. Before transferring your catch from your livewell to your weigh bag, make sure that there is plenty of water in the bag.  Filling the bag with the appropriate amount of water is very important.  Putting 5 fish in a bag with barely enough water in it to cover their backs causes serious stress on your fish.  The water quickly becomes oxygen depleted, leading to higher mortality rates.  After the fish are bagged, avoid placing the bag on the hot blacktop while waiting your turn in the weigh-in line.

Although following these steps does not guarantee that you won’t lose any fish due to the heat, it will certainly help your chances.  We work too hard to catch bass here in Ohio to let them die on us!

Culling Clip Advice

Over the past few years the use of “culling clips” by tournament anglers has become fairly common.  When used properly, culling clips are a useful tool that simplify the culling process and save anglers valuable time during competition.  They can also greatly reduce the amount of stress put on a bass compared to the traditional method of fumbling around your livewell with your hands.  My favorite culling system is the Ardent SmartCull Professional Culling System.  The floats on the Ardent clips allow you to dial in the size of the fish on the top, which can save you some serious time on the water.

But when used improperly, culling clips can be harmful and even fatal to bass.  Anyone who has spent some time fishing on Ohio’s public reservoirs has probably noticed more of our bass are suffering from the telltale signs of cull clip misuse – a 3 or 4 inch slit in the soft tissue of their throats, starting several inches below the lower jaw and running up to the jawbone.  These injuries can cause a number of health issues for bass, including infection and mal-nourishment due to the inability of the bass to feed.

Culling clips should always be inserted through the soft tissue as close in proximity as possible to the lower jawbone of the bass.  This keeps the clip from tearing the skin when pressure is exerted on the float-end of the clip.  Once the clip has been inserted, the best practice is to follow the clip from the bobber to the mouth of the fish, and then grab the fish by its lip rather than pulling the fish from the water by the clip.  Lifting a fish out of the livewell will usually tear the skin.  One way to avoid injuring the fish altogether is to use “alligator” style clips, such as the Accu Cull system.  These clips never penetrate the throat, but instead grip the jawbone.  The one disadvantage of alligator clips is that they easily become detached from the fish.

Finally, culling clips should not be used on large bass, as the weight of the fish’s body can easily break the jaw if the fish is lifted up by the clip.  Here is a great video that illustrates the proper way to insert a culling clip (advance the video to the 1:20 mark) http://youtu.be/KEsQaoVbO5E

Fizzing a Deep Caught Bass

With much of Ohio’s bass population living deep in the water column to avoid the summer heat, I thought this would be an appropriate time to discuss the topic of treating a deep-caught bass that is suffering from “the bends”.

Bass, both largemouth and smallmouth, use an internal gas-filled organ known as the swim bladder to maintain neutral buoyancy in the water.  Sometimes when a bass is hooked in deep water and rapidly reeled to the surface, the abrupt change in pressure causes the swim bladder to become over-inflated.  If the bass is then placed in the shallow water of a livewell (in a tournament setting),  it may be unable to maintain its buoyancy - a case of “the bends”.  There are several telltale signs that a fish is suffering from this condition.  The most common is that they go belly or side-up in your livewell.  Although still alive, they cannot right themselves.  The second is that a golf-ball sized lump may appear on the fish’s side.  And the third is that the swim bladder may protrude from the fish’s mouth.  If not treated quickly, the fish will often die.

 

The most common method to aid a fish that is suffering from a mis-inflated swim bladder is to “fizz” the fish.  Fizzing involves piercing the swim bladder by inserting a specially designed needle into the fish’s side.  Tackle Warehouse sells a fizzing needle called the “Bends Mender” for $3.99.  We’ve used it before, and it works great (and it is a lot cheaper than some other models).

Laying the bass parallel to the surface of the water, count three scales behind the pectoral fin, towards the tail.  Remove the scale (which will grow back in time), and insert the needle into the fish at a 90 degree angle while holding the fish under water.  The excess air should bubble out (hence the term “fizz”), and the fish will be able to right itself.  Check out this great video from Bass Resource that demonstrates how to Fizz a Bass!

I’ve caught and seen others catch bass that have needed to be fizzed on a number of Ohio fisheries, including Alum Creek Reservoir, Clear Fork Reservoir, and Mosquito Creek Reservoir.  On most occasions, the fish were caught off the bottom in 15 to 20 feet of water.

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Topwater Frog Modification

With the summer topwater frog bite heating up, I wanted to share a simple modification that will help you get more blowups (I can’t promise the hookups)!

To enhance the side-to-side walking action of your frog, trim one leg an inch and the other leg a half-inch using a pair of scissors.  The difference in the lengths will cause a slight imbalance, which will improve the frog’s walking action!

Frog Modification

Be sure to check out the most recent tournament results from a busy weekend of tournament fishing across the Buckeye State on the Results page!

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Game of Ounces

Take a minute to peruse the weekly Ohio tournament results, and you will notice a common trend – in almost every competition, mere ounces separate the champions from those who barely missed a check.

Tournament anglers are more skilled than ever before, creating ultra competitive fields, and making it extremely difficult to pull off a win. Couple that with the fact that locating a “kicker” bass in our lakes can be like finding a needle in a haystack, and the result is tightly packed leaderboards.

Because of these factors, tournament bass fishing has truly become a “game of ounces”, where one lost fish or one wrong cull can cost you thousands of dollars.  Losing fish is part of the game, and can’t always be prevented.  But making sure you are culling the right fish is something that you CAN control.

Culling Beam - A Game of Ounces

There is one tool that every competitive angler should carry in their boat to insure that they are culling the right fish – a culling beam.  It will cost about $20, and will pay for itself almost immediately.  The culling beam never lies, and should always be used over a digital scale or a measuring board.  Digital scales often register incorrect weights, particularly when dealing with small fish in the 1 to 1.5 pound range.  And measuring boards shouldn’t be trusted for weight, as every angler who has ever held up a spawned-out 15 incher next to an egg-laden 14 incher knows.

The best way to use a culling beam is to attach the beam directly to the culling clips that are attached to the fish.  This will allow you to avoid making a second hole in the fish’s mouth, and will save you time on the water (read more about Best Practices for using Culling Clips).  If possible, get the fish to relax before you put them on the beam so that they don’t injure themselves, and so that the beam can do its work.

Using a culling beam during the Ohio Mega Bass Tournament Trail event on Buckeye Lake a couple of weeks back was an important key to victory for me and my partner.  We caught a number of fish that made for difficult culling decisions, and the beam was used for every cull.  At the end of the day, weights were tight, and we ended up taking the top spot by one hundredth of a pound! If we hadn’t taken the time to use the beam, we very easily could have missed out on the win.

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Livewell Lesson and Weekly Ohio Tournament Results

I’ve often stressed the importance of fish-care in the articles I post on Ohio Bass Blog.  I go to great lengths to make sure my fish remain healthy during my tournaments. But I made a rookie fish-care mistake while competing in the BFL tournament on Mosquito Lake Saturday that cost me, and my co-angler, some valuable points in the standings.

We both had a five fish limit in the livewell, and I had been pumping fresh water all morning.  In the afternoon, I made a long run to a field of water lilies where I had located a good population of fish during practice.  The pads were sitting in only a foot of water, and I completely forgot to turn my pumps from “pump in” to “recirculate”, which meant I was pumping oxygen-depleted, silty water into the livewell.  Bass are fairly durable creatures, but like any other living organism, can’t survive very long without adequate oxygen levels.

Rejuvenade

My co-angler happened to take peek at his fish, and was horrified to see all five of his fish floating belly up.  I checked on my fish to find the same thing. Hurriedly, I started the outboard and idled through the pads and into deeper open water.  I began pumping fresh water into the well, and added a cap full of Rejuvenade.

Miraculously, 4 of my fish, and 3 of his recovered and survived for the weigh in. But the damage was done, and each of us was assessed dead fish penalties.  The lesson that can be learned is to ALWAYS be cognizant of the water that is going into your livewell.  During a tournament, it can be so easy to toss your fish in the box and forget about them.  But taking a few minutes every hour or so to check up on them can go a long ways towards making sure your fish are fresh and healthy for the weigh in.

Here are results from a busy weekend of Ohio bass tournaments:

June 2nd – Ohio Mega Bass Tournament Trail – Buckeye Lake

71 boats competed in the OMBTT tournament on Buckeye Lake Sunday.  Mike Reeves and Marshall Yarnell won the event with five fish that weighed 11.05 pounds. The win earned them $3,110. Tournament big bass went to the team of Campbell and Weaver, with a 3.55 pound largemouth.  For complete tournament results, please visit OMBTT Buckeye Lake Results

Reeves and Yarnell 1st Place Ohio Mega Bass Buckeye Lake

June 2nd – East Ohio Invitational 10HP Bass Circuit – Piedmont Lake

JD Hardway and Ivan Weaver won the East Ohio 10HP event on Piedmont lake with 11.53 pounds Sunday.  They also had big bass, a 4.09 pounder.  For complete results, go to East Ohio 10HP Piedmont Results

EOI 1st Place Team

June 1st – FLW BFL – Buckeye Division – Mosquito Creek Lake 

Dan Fry topped the 95 boat field Saturday in the Mosquito Creek Lake BFL with five fish that weighed 10-02.  For the win, he earned $5,641.  Big bass also went to Fry with a 4 pound largemouth.  On the co-angler side, Gary Vanover took the title with five fish that also weighed 10-02.  His big bass, coincidentally, weighed 4 pounds!  For complete tournament results, please visit BFL Mosquito Creek Lake Results

Dan Fry - 2013 Mosquito Lake BFL Champion

June 1st – NBAA/OCDC Fin Feather & Fur Outfitters Clear Fork Open

Steve Hatfield and Mark Mcquate weighed an impressive 17.51 pound limit to win the Fin, Feather & Fur Clear Fork Reservoir open Saturday.  Big bass weighed 5.15 pounds, and was caught by Dave Griffin and Brian Clark. Complete results can be viewed at Fin, Feather & Fur Outfitters Clear Fork Reservoir Open Results - how about all those 4 pounders!

June 1st – KSU La “Do” Bass Series – LaDue Reservoir

Greg Perry and Trevor White of the KSU Bass Fishing Team won the KSU La “Do” Bass Series tournament Saturday on LaDue Reservoir. Their winning bag weighed 12.41 pounds, and was anchored by a 4.58 pound big bass. For complete results, please visit KSU LaDue Bass Results

KSU La Do Bass 1st Place

June 1st – NBAA Tanners Creek
1st. Richard Peterson/Justin Stearns 10.00
2nd. Brad Whitaker/Jamie Cunnigan 9.50
3rd. Robert Thompson/Mark Johnson 9.28
4th. George Carter/Rick Retloger 8.40
5th. Dave Zimmer/Matt Lang 7.80
6th. Dave Kendall/Justin Kendall 7.18
7th. Fred VonRissen/Tim Rowe 7.06
8th. Doug Reaves/Dan Reaves 6.64
9th. Dennis Rains/Fred Fox 6.40
10th. Kevin Schalk/John Fowler 6.34
11th. Bob Schalk/Mellissa Schalk 5.16
Big Bass – Brad Whitaker/Jamie Cunnagin 3.12
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Crankbaits – Hook Choice Matters

As bass anglers, we put a lot of thought into the presentation and appearance of our baits.  We are meticulous about the details, and we are convinced that the little modifications we make trigger more bites. Take for example crankbaits.  We are particular about the wobble, the running depth, and of course, the color. But how much time is spent worrying about arguably the most critical aspect of the bait – the hooks! Smart anglers put just as much thought into their choice of hooks as they do the other aspects of their baits.  After all, what good is getting a bite if you can’t get it in the boat?

Most inexpensive crankbaits, jerkbaits, and topwater baits (say $4 to $7) come from the factory with low quality hooks.  These hooks are often undersized, and are made with inferior metals that easily bend or break.  And sometimes they aren’t even sharp enough to penetrate a bass’s mouth.  A simple solution is to swap these cheap factory hooks out with upgraded, oversized treble hooks with a black nickel or other quality finish.  I started doing this about five years ago, and immediately my hookup ratios increased significantly for cranking, jerkbaiting, and walking the dog.  The Mustad KVD treble hooks are a good choice at an affordable cost.  My advise is to use the biggest hooks you can, without compromising the bait’s action.  This is especially important for your topwater walk the dog baits.

Treble Hook Upgrades

Hook size is important for hookups, but it also can have a significant impact on the depth that your crankbaits run.  If your favorite crankbait is only designed to run down to 6 feet, swapping the factory hooks for heavier quality hooks might increase the diving depth to 6.5 or even 7 feet.  Increased diving depth can also be accomplished by adding small split shots, or molding lead to the shank of your hooks.  Just be careful not to add so much weight that the bait doesn’t run properly.

For topwater baits, such as poppers and walk the dog baits, adding a feather to the rear treble can elicit more bites.  When the bait pauses, the feather will often “poof” out, giving a bass the last bit of incentive it needs to strike.  A lot of guys also swear that a red rear treble hook makes a big difference, particularly in clear water scenarios.

Another important thing to remember is that the points on your hooks, even the expensive ones, will become dull from pulling off of rocks and stumps.  Be sure to carry replacement hooks and split-ring pliers with you on the water.  Taking 30 seconds to replace a dull hook will save you 30 days of anguish over the 5 pounder that pulled off your bait right at the boat because you were too lazy to replace a hook.

Hook choice doesn’t only matter for treble hooks.  You should carefully inspect the hooks on your jigs, spinnerbaits, and chatterbaits to make sure you aren’t at a disadvantage.  If you haven’t already done so, take some time this week to make sure your hooks are up to par on all of your baits. Doing so will result in more fish in the boat.

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Weekly Ohio Tournament Results and Big Bass Photos

May 18th – Team Bass Xtreme – Central Division – Indian Lake
The team of Newland and Hastings took first place in the TBX Central Division event Saturday with five fish that weighed 12.02 pounds.  Big bass was caught by Mike Denny and Kenny Quinn, a 4.32 pound largemouth.
TBX Central Division Indian Lake Top FinishersHere is a photo of the tournament big bass
TBX Central Division - Indian Lake - Denny and Quinn Big Bass
Here are the full results from the event
TBX Central Division - Indian Lake Leaderboard
 
May 18th and 19th – Salmoides Classic – Indian Lake/Alum Creek Lake
Matt Bores and Tom Uber won the two-day Salmoides Classic Championship over the weekend with a total weight of 18.20 pounds.  They also weighed day two big bass, a 3.88 pound largemouth. Bores and Uber made a pretty incredible comeback.  On Day 1 at Indian they managed only 4.70 pounds.  But on Day 2 on Alum, they capitalized on big bedding females to sack 14.50 pounds.  Bores credited a shallow-water anchoring system attached to the bow of the boat (which he fabricates himself) for the victory.  It allowed him to position the boat securely in place for precise presentations to the beds. More information on Bores’ anchoring system will be forthcoming.  For their victory they earned $3,410.  Great job guys!
 
May 18th – Fish for the Homeless Tournament – East Fork Lake
Kevin Moeller won the Fish for the Homeless benefit tournament held on East Fork Lake Saturday.  His winning weight was 12.40 pounds, and included big bass of 3.94 pounds.  For his win, he received a $150 BPS gift card and a fly-in fishing trip to Canada, valued at $2500.
 
May 19th – Ohio BASS Nation – Indian Lake
Steve Floyd of Catchem Bassmasters weighed a five fish limit that went 9.71 pounds to top the 55 boat field Sunday in the Ohio BASS Nation tournament on Indian Lake. Floyd’s bag was anchored by a 4.03 pound largemouth, which was tournament big bass.  To learn more about the OBN, you can visit their website at http://www.ohiobassfederationnation.com/Complete results from the Indian Lake tournament can be viewed at Ohio BASS Nation Indian Lake Results.
 
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Over the past week I received photos of several solid Ohio public water bass.  Here they are!
 
Kevin Moeller with a 4-14 he caught at Cowan Lake on May 19th.
Kevin Moeller - Cowan Lake - 5-19-13 - 4lbs 14oz
 
CJ Shaver with a solid Alum Creek largemouth he landed on May 16th.
CJ Shaver - Alum Creek - May 16th
 
And Sol Curtis with a topwater AEP largemouth he landed on May 16th.  For more AEP big bass photos, be sure to visit the AEP Reports page.
Sol Curtis - AEP - 5-16-13
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Save Your Crankbaits

This article was written by Ohio Bass Blog contributor Marshall Yarnell

Over the next few weeks, our bass will be transitioning to a post-spawn pattern, which means crankbaits will likely play an increasingly important role in your bass’n strategy.

Crankbaits offer a long list of advantages, and only one major disadvantage – they snag a lot.  A decade ago, crankbaits cost three or four dollars, and breaking off a hung-up bait wasn’t too painful.  But as they’ve improved in quality, they’ve also increased significantly in price.  These days, losing one can cost a small fortune!

There are a number of lure retrievers on the market today that can save your snagged crankbaits. The problem with many of them is that they require manually collecting the line attached to the knocker, which usually ends up in a tangled-mess on the floor of your boat.  Here is a simple solution for creating a simpler, more efficient lure retriever.

Find an old, broken rod and a casting reel that you’ve retired.  Cut the rod blank approximately 8 inches above the reel.  Next, take one of the guides from the broken rod and tape it to the end of the tip.  Spool the reel with the heaviest braided line you can find (65 to 80 pound test will do).  Make sure you put monofilament backing on the reel to keep it from slipping on the spool.  Tie on your favorite lure retriever to the end of the braid, and you are ready to go!

Lure Retriever

When you get snagged, simply position your boat directly over the snag, hook your lure retriever onto your line, and let it slide down to your bait.  Use one hand to hold your rod and one hand to hold your lure retriever.  Keep a tight line on your rod while vertically jigging your lure retriever until it pops your lure free or grabs hold of one of the hooks.  Then, reel in your bait! Occasionally you will bend a treble hook that will need replaced, but it’s better than losing your favorite ten dollar crankbait.  And the best part is that you avoid a tangled mess of line in the bottom of your boat.

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Results from the weekend’s busy Ohio bass tournament schedule have been posted in the Results page. Be sure to check them out!

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Randolph and Cooper Mosquito Madness VIII Champions: Davenport Wins Second Straight BWS Tournament:

Mosquito Madness VIII Wrap-Up
A full field of 110 boats competed in Mosquito Madness VIII over the weekend on Mosquito Creek Lake in northeast Ohio.  Run by Rory Franks and his staff of DoBass helpers, “Madness” has become one of the most popular bass fishing tournaments in the state. Bringing in the top two-day weight of 20.78 pounds was the team of Nate Randolph and Gabe Cooper, who earned a $10,000 payday for their victory! Tournament big bass belonged to the team of Mike Miller and Matt Robbins, a 4.88 pound largemouth.  For complete results, please visit Mosquito Madness VIII Results.
Randolph and Cooper - Mosquito Madness VII Champions
 
Bassmaster Weekend Series Alum Creek Results
Bass anglers, like athletes in other sports, can oftentimes get on a roll.  Just ask Dave Davenport of Milford, Ohio.  Davenport won his second straight Bassmaster Weekend Series event Saturday on Alum Creek with a five fish limit that weighed 9.14 pounds.  He also caught the tournament’s big bass, a 3.87 pound largemouth. Davenport caught his fish using a number of techniques, including flipping, dropshotting, and on a spinnerbait.  In all, 35 boats competed in the tournament.  For complete results, please visit BWS Alum Creek Results.
Davenport Alum Creek BWS 1st Place
 
The results from these Ohio tournaments, as well as several other events held over the weekend can be found on the Ohio Bass Blog Results page.
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Lake Logan Report
It’s come to my attention that Lake Logan, in southeast, Ohio has been pumping out some impressive fish recently. On April 20th, Ryan McCay and his partner weighed 9 bass during the Saturday morning tournament that weighed in at 29.6 pounds (10 fish limit tournament). Their bag included a 5.8 pound kicker.  Big bass for the tournament weighed 6.18 pounds.  Here is a photo of the best 4 fish from McCay and partner’s winning bag.
Ryan McCay Logan Bag
 
McCay also shared a photo of this 7.6 pound MONSTER that he caught on April 16th from Forked Run.
Ryan McCay - Forked Run - 7.6lbs
 
AEP Still Pumping Out Giants!
The AEP diehards are still at it, and the big fish are showing up better than ever.  Here is a big-headed, post spawn six pounder caught by Solomon Curtis on 5-5-13.  For more big AEP fish photos, be sure to check out the AEP Reports page.
Solomon Curtis - AEP - 5-5-13
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Six Tips for Catching Spawning Bass in Ohio

Enticing spawning bass to bite on Ohio’s inland waters is usually pretty easy.  But locating them can be a real challenge.  Most of our lakes and reservoirs are stained or downright muddy in the spring, making it virtually impossible to see bass on beds.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t catch them if you know when and where to look.  Here are some tips for locating and catching bedding bass in Ohio.

Mike Reeves with two Ohio spawning bass caught on 4-28-13.jpg

1. Water Temperature - You’ve heard it a thousand times – 60 degrees is the magic number when it comes to triggering the spawn. Generally, I think that’s true here in Ohio. But I start looking for visual signs of spawning fish at 53 degrees. Oftentimes the biggest bass in the lake will spawn well-ahead of the general population.  These are the fish you DON’T want to miss out on! In the past weeks, I’ve encountered fish on beds on two bodies of water at 54 degrees.

2. Location - To find beds, you must look in the right areas.  Bass will nest in the most remote and protected areas of a lake. The backs of creeks and coves, and secluded backwaters are perfect areas to search.  Banks that are sheltered from a cold north wind should be a focal point. Bedding bass prefer a hard bottom composition, and like to build beds next to stationary cover like logs, stumps, lily pad stems, and rocks.

3. Be Observant - When you’re scouring the shallows, make sure to look closely for visible signs of bedding bass.  Even in stained water, beds can be seen with a keen eye by searching for lighter colored patches of the lake bottom.  When the sun is out, these lighter areas can be highly visible, and should be fished, even if the bass itself can’t be seen.  Another important visual clue in low-visibility scenarios is the bass’s tail sticking out of the water.  A lot of times a bass will use its nose and mouth to work on its bed, and its tail will break the water’s surface.  The tail usually only appears for a brief moment, so you really have to be observant.

4.  Marking Beds - It’s hard enough to find beds, so once you do, make sure you don’t lose track of their exact location. There are several techniques that can be used to mark a bed. First is to line-up the location of the bed with notable shoreline features, such as a log, big rock, or a beer can that’s sitting on the bank. Another is to use your GPS unit to mark a way-point when you spot a fish spawning.  Finally, dropping a white or chartreuse golf ball next to the bed will provide a visual landmark (just be sure to retrieve it when you are finished).

5. Boat Positioning – When approaching a bedding fish, turn your trolling motor down and turn your electronics off.  Sometimes spawners can be really spooky, and even the slightest unnatural noise can scare them off.  Keep your distance, and if you have a shallow-water anchoring system, use it.  If possible, use the sun to your advantage by keeping it at your back. The sunlight can obscure the bass’s view of you. Just be sure not to let your shadow drape over the bed.

6. Presentation - Stealth is important.  Make long casts to the bed, and try to avoid splashing your lure right on top of the bed (although sometimes that method can be effective, depending on the mood of the fish). Casting past the bed and moving the lure onto it is the best way to start.  If you can’t entice them with a flipping bait, try rolling a spinnerbait or crankbait past the fish. Twitching a frog, popper, or prop bait directly above the fish can work in certain scenarios too.

The bass spawn is currently in full swing in Ohio.  In fact, they have been bedding for several weeks now on many of our waters.  I’ve found spawning fish on four public lakes, and have received reports from other anglers that have spotted some as well.  More will be coming shallow for this annual ritual in the weeks to come, so try your hand at it the next time you’re out!

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Tournament results from the weekend have been added to the Results page.  There are a number of Open Tournaments on the schedule for this upcoming weekend.  If you are looking for a slugfest, give the TBX Clear Fork Open a shot! 

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Clear Fork Reservoir ON FIRE!

If you think the 27.60 pound limit weighed in last weekend on Clear Fork Reservoir was a fluke, you’re wrong.

Check out these HAWGS that were taken over the last few days.

First up is Steve Holsinger, who got this pair of sevens on Tuesday.  They went 7.05 and 7.34, respectively. He estimates his best five would have gone a little over 21 pounds.

Steve Holsinger - 4-23-13 - 7.34 and 7.05 pounds - Clear Fork Reservoir

 

And today, Brian Monahan and Marshall Yarnell caught this set of five that went 24.38 pounds. Monahan had three over five, including a 5.94, 5.82, and 5.50.

Brian Monahan - Clear Fork Reservoir - 5.94 poundsBrian Monahan - Clear Fork Reservoir - 4-25-13 - 5.94 and 5.82 poundsMarshall Yarnell - Clear Fork Reservoir - 4-25-13 - 4 poundsMarshall Yarnell - Clear Fork Reservoir - 4-25-13 - 4  pounds

You might be wondering why so many big fish are being caught this season on our public reservoirs.  I’ve heard a number of theories, and there are two that I think may hold some water.

First is that the extremely mild winter we had last year allowed the fish to feed and grow uninterrupted from Spring 2011 until the beginning of this past winter, and we are now reaping the results.

The second is that this year’s spring has been slow to come.  The warming trend we had a couple of weeks ago brought all of the big females up at the same time to spawn, but then the cold set back in and they’ve remained accessible, waiting for the next warming trend to spawn.

Regardless of why, big fish are showing up around Ohio this spring.  And with temperatures trending up over the next week, the bite should only get stronger, with more fish invading the shallows. If you have a theory you’d like to share, or have a memorable day on the water, be sure to send an email to ohiobassblog@gmail.com

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Al Rose sent me this photo of a 4.5 pounder he caught at Hargus Creek Lake Tuesday. Nice fish Al!

Al Rose - Hargus Creek Lake - 4-23-13 - 4.25lbs

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