The Hunt for Big Fish
The Hunt for Big Fish
By Craig De Fronzo
My fishing past started out almost 20 years ago. I began to get really serious about it when I was 15 years old. When I got my drivers license, I bought a trailer to tow my boat and I spent the next 10 years or so fishing close to 200+ days a year. I learned so much just by being out on the water. My early days saw me as a power fisherman, slinging big baits on heavy lines. I did quite well. I caught a ton of fish and I caught big fish.
As unlikely as it seems, I learned that if I scaled down a little, I could attract more bites and ultimately catch more bass. At the time, I did not expect to significantly increase the amount of big fish I was catching. I figured smaller baits wouldn’t really attract larger bass on the whole but I did notice that I started catching bigger fish than ever. This article is geared to help you apply some of the tricks I’ve learned over the years to use. I feel it may help you get into the zone regarding catching more and bigger bass. At the very least, it will prepare you for such encounters. I do not plan on this being a light tackle lecture. You all know how fond of it I am and how successful with it I’ve been.
Let’s discuss what a big fish is. To me, a big LI largemouth is one that is 4.5lbs and up. Here in NY it is a real possibility that you can go out on many waters and catch a six pound fish. That is a truly big fish for NY.
There are places that hold 7’s, 8’s and 9’s as well. In the past 15 years or so, I’ve taken over 30 fish within this size ratio. A bass this size is a true gem, a trophy. They get this way by being smart. They are masters of their environment. They do not come easy and will take advantage of any miscue or error that you have. They do not come along all that often so you must be prepared for them. These are fish you have to work for as I don’t remember catching any of them by accident.
If any of you saw the Lunkerville TV show clip on NYbass.com, Mike asks me about big fish. Although it is edited, we have a decent discussion about relative size of lunker bass in LI waters specifically, just before one attacks my SD bait.
Bass fishing can be about as difficult or as simple as you choose to make it. I’ve learned much in my many years of trial and error. I’ve learned to become more organized and more astute to my trade and I think that gives me a big advantage. I’ve also learned to travel light and carry a big stick.
Top Secret Info begins here:
For many years, I’ve targeted big fish exclusively. To do this you must accept several things. First, you must put in your time scouting these fish out. They do not just appear anywhere. Next, you must forget about catching smaller fish altogether. Seriously, you are targeting a 5lb largemouth, if you fish for a smaller fish, you may not ever get that big fish to bite. It is not as easy as using a bigger bait as some guys will swear to. That might be true at times but I’ve taken 100’s and I mean several 100’s of 5lb+ largemouth’s on 1/16oz jigs. You must realize that there are times when you might remain (big bass) fishless for days, even weeks at a time. When you realize this and commit to it, you will then begin to tip the scales in your favor. If you put in some time and then start employing little fish tactics, you cheat yourself.
Make sure you use quality rods and reels. I can say this till I’m blue in the face but there will always be some guy who goes out there under matched and breaks off on a 2lb bass but swears it was a 6 or 7. My choices have become so narrow these days it is almost as if I am a spokesman for the companies whose products I opt to use.
Reels- Shimano Stradic 2500FH series That’s it. I’ll pick up a 1000FH or 2500MGf at times as well. Shimano costs more but I think it is the most reliable reel out there. To me Diawa is too slow. I use Scorpion and Metanium Shimano bait cast reels exclusively. These are improved Japanese versions of the Curado and Chronarch respectively.
Rods- My choice for the past 15 years is from Bass Pro Shops. I prefer Extreme series and Johnny Morris rods. The Bionic Blades are also excellent. In my opinion, there is nothing on the market that is a better value. I don’t see spending 100’s of dollars more for a Loomis. I have a Yamamoto Loomis rod in 7ft medium action flipping that I’m not convinced is better than my Johnny M in the same size and action.
2- Terminal Tackle
This is your direct link to fish. You can land a fish on a lesser rod and reel than I specified but, you seriously increase your odds if you concentrate on serious terminal tackle.
Line- In the early days, I used Bagley’s Super Silver thread in the Red/Blue box. I can’t find it anymore. Lately, I have had great success with Yo Zuri 8lb Hybrid line. I can horse a fish if I need to. I spent an entire tournament season using 6lb without a break off. Spinning reels dictate the use of smaller lb test as this stuff has some memory. 8lb is about as heavy as I like on spinning tackle. For my bait casting gear, I am torn between P line and Hybrid. This past season I lost two big fish on Yo Zuri 12lb on my jig rod. I can’t explain why. I am hoping a switch to P line rectifies the situation. I look for a line that has the highest possible tensile strength coupled with good abrasion resistance. I do not use braid for my big bass hunting. It seems un natural to me in color. I go with clear or green line.
Hooks-I’ve been very happy with the hooks I’ve been using from Hookerz Terminal. They are essentially Gamakatsu hooks at a much cheaper price and the points do not roll over. I also like TTi X-Point. This hook is special because it is made with the finest grade carbon steel out there and is thinner in diameter than most others. These are better than Owner hooks, which are no slouches and a brand I relied on longer than any other for big fish. I do most of my fishing with EWG style hooks for soft plastics. I can rig a tube, worm or SD perfectly every time. I tie all of this together with a Palomar knot. It is the only knot I use, ever!
Consider using some of the new red hooks from Daiichi. The bleeding bait series is a new innovation in otherwise stagnant hook market and is said to increase strike due to its resemblance to blood. I’m not convinced that this is actually true but I do not notice any decrease in strikes by employing them.
I feel that you must absolutely be stealthy if you want to catch these big bass consistently. If you alert them to an un natural presence, they will spook. Concentrate on being quiet as far as unnecessary noise inside your boat is concerned. Don’t bang or drop things if you can help it. If you wade, be careful when you walk. If you are kicking up silt, make sure you are not fishing in the direction of the flow. That way your dust will not signal your location to the fish. It also is better not to muddy up your target area. I was a big time wade fisherman in the early days and I really learned how to make myself less conspicuous to the fish almost so it is second nature. I still wade from time to time. I’ve naturally absolved myself of all of my bad habits and for me being quiet and cautious is natural to me.
Wear neutral colors such as tan, beige, light blue, gray or khaki when out on the water. Avoid red, dark colors, yellow, bright white or orange. I totally feel that bass can see you above the water an usually long before you see them. A natural color may not put the fear into them about your presence. A bright color may spook them. I always fish with the sun in my face. This way I do not cast a shadow towards the fish I am targeting. Many anglers will do it the other way by justifying that the sun would be in the fish’ eyes and they wouldn’t be able to see you. I don’t buy that for a second.
4-Choose your waters carefully
I grew up fishing huge waters. Now since I have the choice, I am a small water guy here on LI. I’ve taken big fish from ponds no bigger than an acre in size. I prefer to fish small ponds for several reasons. First and foremost, I don’t like to be bothered when I’m fishing. If I catch a big fish, A-I don’t want anyone seeing it and B-I certainly don’t want anyone coming over to me and asking me about how I caught it. So less pressure is important not only for the fish but for my sanity.
Smaller ponds are easier to break down when you are in a quest for a large fish. First you must analyze the forage base, structure, temperature, find the migration routes and hope that the big fish are actually present in the particular body of water.
Some ponds are just better big fish factories. I’ve had days on small ponds that are basically barren of real desirable big bass characteristics, only to pull in 10 fish weighing close to 55lbs. I’ve also been in places that should have been can’t miss but produced nothing. Take a look at where most of the big largemouths are coming from across the country. Those 20lbers for California are usually from waters no more than 1000 acres. Most are under 600acres. Big fish stay in relatively the same locations on a daily basis. I know I’ve caught the same fish over and over again. They are territorial and do not move all that much.
In picking out an ideal pond, take these things into consideration:
“Big bass do not like to spend too much energy to grab food”. Knowing this, I concentrate on looking for areas within a body of water that are key forage holding areas. Keeping this in mind and taking it a step further by looking for specific pieces of cover within these areas that will hold a big fish is optimum.
I have always believed that you can catch the most bass by presenting them with something that looks natural and like something they eat on a regular basis. I do not want to get into a discussion about if a bass actually knows what he is eating. It is irrelevant here. I stick with earth toned bait colors. Blacks, Browns, Greens are what I throw almost exclusively. You rarely will catch me out there with something pink on the end of my line.
On LI, we have shiners, perch, bluegills, mosquito fish and killies among other baitfish. There are terrestrial creatures also that make up a smaller percentage of a bass’ diet.
I make a definite attempt to have the bait on the end of my line mimic something that is real and tasty looking. On LI, baitfish are the primary source of forage for our native largemouth bass. Very few places have craws but they are also an option and craw type baits will work on waters that do not support populations of these bottom dwellers.
My bait choices have been scaled down to specifically imitate natural creatures. Knowing that most of these morsels are fairly slow moving makes me realize that slow, deliberate retrieves are the best.
What type of cover is prominent? Is there an ideal mix of vegetation? Varying bottom contour? Channels and off shore structure
I look for a mix of aquatic growth. Pads are nice, Cabomba is good, Elodea…..ok. But find an area where you have many types of different weeds together and you open yourself up to better odds of catching bigger fish. ‘Tis true, these different types of vegetation create junctions or edges that fish gravitate to. Often you simply need to look for something different. I spy a pad field but fish it with no luck, as I am about to motor off I make a last cast and pick up a 4lber. Why was that fish in the place I caught it? What was different. I’m sure a quick analysis will reveal the answer and often it is a subtle change in vegetation.
I prefer to spend my time looking for bigger fish in areas with a hard bottom. I feel that the hard bottom holds heat better than mud. Bass use hard bottoms to spawn on, after they are done, they very often simply follow a slope to deeper water and remain on the first piece of cover they find in the area. This is paramount information.
I love to fish wood, bushes, trees, and these are all likely spots to catch fish but, they are also spots that get pounded by the one dimensional bank beaters. One of the things I’ve done lately and especially in tournaments is to back off and fish open water. I let the rest of the guys have the shallows and I target the fish that nobody else does. It almost always pays off too. If you can find a good offshore spot, it will usually hold fish most of the year.
I like to fish in lakes or rivers that have some, no matter how small, current. To me, this creates natural ambush points that are subtle and often overlooked. One particular body of water that everyone on LI fish’ is actually a river. Most guys forget that fact and don’t adapt to it. There is definitely an advantage in applying river tactics. Even the slightest current will cause your sinking baits to be carried by the flow. A simple adjustment may put you in the strike zone longer than casting directly on top of your target.
I’ve used this term before and I’m sure more than a few guys have asked themselves, “what the hell is he talking about?”
This has nothing to do with season or heading south for the Winter. Bass use migration routes every day.
A migration route is simply the way a bass or bass plural get from shallow to deep water and back. Bass are creatures of habit. They take the same routes into and out of the shallows unless they are swimming for their lives and need to high tail it out of an area in a hurry.
I stumbled upon this many years ago while fishing a crystal clear pit where my position was elevated to the point where I could follow a pod of really nice sized fish working their way in and out of the shallows to feed. I noticed that they would enter and exit at the same points. They would never alternate to another area. I noticed this on different days so I came to the conclusion that they use the underwater seascape just like a highway. There must be things like road signs to indicate to them the best way to the shallows or the best exit.
Ideally you want to find an area that has quick deep water access from the shallows. This is the best hypothetical migration route for a bass. It can get in the shallows undetected and make a quick escape to deep water sanctuary if it has to. These spots are further highlighted by structure in the depths. Once a bass gets to deeper water, it will likely head for the first piece of structure it can find. I’ve located some of this sanctuary and picked it apart for some outstanding results.
Taking into consideration what I already stated about bigger bass not wanting to expend massive amounts of energy to capture prey, ambush points are an obvious consideration. I look for ambush points that are off the beaten bath, something that the other anglers overlook. You can open up a whole new world if you simply back off the bank and open your eyes. I’ve seen great ambush points in the middle of current that is only a small current break. I mean watching a couple of big fish just hanging onto a small clump of grass that affords them slack water to wait until something washes by them so they can pounce. These ambush points can be as subtle as a small hole or depression or as big as a stump row or boulder. The key is that most anglers don’t know they even exist.
5-Fishing like you mean it
I’ve seen guys go through the motions. Everyone thinks they are on top of their game. In truth, most of us are not. I can frequently get myself into the Zone but there are times when I feel I’m useless. Put the effort in and make a plan, do your homework, research a pond so you are not fishing blind. Make a journal that out lines patterns, conditions etc. I have an extensive set of log books that dates back about 15+ years. It chronicles many of LI’s best waters during every period of the year. This system has helped me in narrowing my search when picking out a body of water to fish and even a pattern to use. It pretty much has not changed despite the years. The bottom line is you must prepare yourself for big fish long before you catch them.
Target where they live
Learn how to get your baits in the right locations. If you are worried about losing a few baits, then you need to get into the right frame of mind. Big bass get that way because they are masters at finding heavy cover where you can’t and won’t cast to them effectively. I learned very early on that I could consistently catch bass in places where most other guys avoided because they were too threatening. I also learned that many of those spots held big fish that didn’t get much pressure at all. I accomplish this delivery by skip casting baits along the surface. With the experience I have, I can basically thread a needle at 35 ft although most of this is much shorter. Don’t simply make a few casts to a target and leave. Move your boat and cast to the same target from a different angle. Bass do not always face towards you. They could be in any direction. Hitting them from all sides increases your chances in having them strike.
Stick with what you know
Don’t go out there throwing baits you don’t know how to use. To catch big fish, you must have 100% confidence in your methods and tactics, as well as your tackle. It is simple, I wouldn’t step into a boxing ring if I wasn’t a boxer. I wouldn’t fly a plane if I wasn’t a pilot, why would I attempt to use a tool in crunch time if I had no experience with it. I’m not saying don’t learn, I’m saying when your purpose for being on the water is to target big bass, you don’t want to be trying something you have no confidence in.
You will be far less effective that way.
For God sake, learn to set the hook
A big problem I see is that so many anglers have no idea how to set the hook. Strike decisively for Christ sake! Set the hook like you mean it. I’m not a big guy but when I set the hook, everyone in my boat knows it. Your quarry has a thick boney jaw that you must penetrate to form a successful hold. If you give that fish a chance to get away because of a pansy assed hook set, he will beat you every time. I often set up on a fish twice during the fight. This gives me confidence I have that fish hooked solidly(Paul). Remember, if you are not sure you have a bite, swing on it. Hook sets are free. Many times you can’t feel the fish bite. You might see your line twitch or look like it is moving off. Something I do to detect strikes to what I call “weighing the line”. Here you simply must learn what your bait feels like as you are retrieving it. Anything more or less is likely a bass. Know the weight of your bait. This is a great way to learn how to fish a jig.
Check your gear
Throughout the day, check your line for nicks and abrasions, retie often. Make sure your hook points are in good shape. Make sure your drag is set to allow line slippage but at the same time a solid resistance to set the hook. You need to be prepared for a hit because you never know when it is coming. Get lax and you’ll lose out. Now, I’ll tell you that it is impossible to remain 100% focused at all times but you should strive for it. Once you develop a confidence in your style, you will develop a patience that will help you get by those fishless hours.
Setting up your spots
One of the things I’ve done in the past was go out with a saw and string. Sometimes I might saw a limb or two to get better penetration for my casts. I am careful not to make it obvious because I do not want others targeting these spots. I’m also not talking about cutting trees down, it is simple pruning. This is great for clearing an area of underwater snags in anticipation you will be fighting a fish in that location. I’ve also done some amazing work with string. I’ve tied back branches and thickets so I can get under cover with my skip casts. I’ve made string bridges where I can cast over the string and yo-yo my bait in one spot hoping to be engulfed by a big fish. The weight of the fish once hooked will pull the bridge down. This is an awesome but time consuming way to put the odds in your favor. This is where scouting comes into play. Go out on the water with a hunting mentality. You are actually hunting for big fish. Spend some time thinking about where a big fish would live. During those scouting exploits, is the best time to set up your spots. You are in essence preparing a spot to produce big fish. When it works, it is a rush. It is almost invisible to those who are not privy to the locations that I’ve done it. I’ve fished these areas in tournaments without my partner having a clue they were there. I’ve also been known to allegedly plant cover in some places to sweeten up locations where I’ve previously caught big fish. Nothing big and usually stuff I find on the shoreline. These are all little things that can help you catch bigger bass.
6- Big Baits Vs. Small Baits
Now I know the rationale here is that big baits equal big fish and it is true to some degree. Throwing larger baits may eliminate some of the smaller strikes but not all of them. I have used smaller baits that I put in the right places to catch more big fish than I have on larger baits. There are certain baits I throw when targeting big fish and certain ones I avoid. I feel that a jig n pig is the most consistent big fish bait there is. It amazes me that the majority of anglers, don’t fish or don’t understand the bait. I like large plastic worms. A 12” model is great for targeting big fish. Buzz baits seem to take a good share of big bass as do top waters. Although I rely on the far less than other baits.
I avoid spinner baits and crank baits when hunting big fish. I feel that most times……night buzz bait fishing being an exception, that bass are looking for a slow presentation, a presentation where they do not have to expend too much energy. A tube, jig or soft plastic are ideal for this theory. I’m not saying that crank baits and spinner baits will not catch a few big fish. They certainly can but they would not be my optimum options.
Consider my 4 biggest bass ever:
13.9lbs-4” Slider worm 6lb test
9.14lbs-4” Slider worm 6lb test
9.3lbs-1/16oz jig 6lb test
9.3lbs-1/16oz jig 6lb test
All of those were very small baits that most people wouldn’t employ when looking for big bass. Now, I’ve made a pretty good living catching larger bass on smaller baits. Much of this is due to my fondness for jigs which I already stated, might be the best option for catching big fish. The difference here is that I put these smaller baits into places that big fish live without the fear of losing them. Once you get over the hurdle that you might not get your bait back and it doesn’t bother you, you are one step ahead of the game. By casting into areas that other anglers avoid, I increase my chances of putting my baits in front of a big un pressured fish. I designed my Micro Munch Jig specifically for this reason. Although I’ve had guys tell me that there is no way I can catch big fish on these small baits, they fail to realize that the bait alone is not the reason these fish fall victim to my hands. It is all in how I use that bait, where I put it. I’ll be the first to tell you that you should gain some light line experience if you plan on taking my advice. You do not want the first time you tangle with a 6lb bass to be in the middle of a bush, ten feet into the trees where you can’t even see your line. Yes you will lose some fish but you will also gain experience that will help you hone your skills.
Must have baits that I carry in my tackle box specifically for big fish:
Jig N Pigs from 1/16oz up to 1/2oz. I prefer Blk/Blue/Purple and black
4” and 5” Salty Stinker SD baits
4” tubes Blk Red flk and Black grape
Sammy 85 Spit N Image Jr.
6” Gambler Bacon Rind Blk/Blue
4 and 6” lizards Blk/Red, Black, Grape
4.5” Pearl Fluke type Jerkbait
4” Grubs Black, Watermelon
Rapala Minnow floater 5”
All of these baits have good big bass potential. Some are subtle, and some are not. You’ll notice that not all of them are UL as you may have expected. One trick I use when big bass fishing is to keep a follow up rod rigged with either a SS, single pour Salty Stinker or a Fluke bait. I chuck these out when a fish misses my offering or if I need a little more stealth. It has worked for me too many times to discount its success.
7-Zen Master Bassing
Up until now almost all of the things I spoke of are simple adjustments you can make to perform more efficiently. Now lets go a little deeper to the mental side of things. There is no doubt that some people can just get in the “Zone” and perform at a higher level on a consistent basis. I feel often times I have this ability. This Zone is a state of being where you are at the top of your game. I’ve done some things to adjust and tweak my fishing to bring to a higher plain on a regular basis.
Some people may disagree but I am a huge believer that mental preparation can play a giant factor in success. There are two aspects of mental preparation that are key for me. Focus and confidence are essential for my implementation in my own fishing system.
FOCUS- It is so important to be in tune with your surroundings while fishing. I speak not only of the bait you are cranking in but of the total outdoor experience. Forgive me if I get too "deep". I try to concentrate on everything when I'm fishing. Sounds, sights and smells....everything. I look for anything that may give me a clue to where the bass may be. I focus on swirls of water, baitfish movement, birds taking off and landing, surface commotion or anything out of the ordinary.
Often, fish give their locations away with movement. Not everyone can detect this. I was out with my Wife last season and we were working a stretch of cat tails. No wind on this day. I saw the tails move ever so slightly and directed her to cast to the location. The result was her first four pound bass. I impressed her with that call and she believes to this day that because I am a Pisces, I can communicate with the bass or at least be in tune with them.
The more I am concentrating on my surroundings, the easier it is to detect strikes as well. I approach every fishing situation with a game plan and at least one back up. I stick to my guns and don't get rattled if my pattern isn't working. Many times patience is the name of the game. I use my journal to eliminate many patterns and to point me in the right direction. It is hard to know when to abandon a "dry" pattern but an experienced angler will just know when to change. Do not panic if your plan isn't working. If you are not catching fish, don't switch to a panic run and gun....it will most likely result in a day of casting practice. Use logic to tell you where the fish should be. Model your fishing on seasonal conditions and you should be able to eke out a few fish. Focus is one of the most important non physical attributes I can mention. It is of the highest importance to remain in an attentive state. This helps you become in tune with your surroundings. You tend to see, hear and smell things that you might normally miss out on the water. Clues to the locations of fish, bait and other tell tale signs that could point you in the direction of big bass. I take everything in while I’m out on the water. I do not let it engulf me to the point that I second guess myself. I do what is natural and often make decisions without really backing them up with scientific reasoning. It works for me.
I fish to relax as much as for enjoyment. I have experienced life in a tournament club and have experienced the success of an angler on top of his game. I do not prefer tournament fishing over my hunting. In fact, I have decided to hunt from now on and leave my tournament days behind me. The thing that I did mentally to prepare myself for tournaments was to relax and get in a positive frame of mind. This helped me to take on the clock. I simply pictured every event as just another day on the water…..only I was holding on to my biggest bass for a little while. Once I realized I was merely a Taxi service for bass, my fishing could be done on a higher level.
CONFIDENCE- Confidence is paramount to success. It is easier to fish a pattern or bait that you have confidence in. If you are familiar with a technique, you will fish it more thoroughly and methodically than if you are trying something new. There are certain baits that I thrive at throwing. I utilize them to my advantage. There are a few that I don't rely on because I'm not as seasoned with them. I am a confident angler. I am confident in my ability. Not to the point where I am an arrogant SOB, but to the point where I know I should be catching bass in a certain situation. Rely on your strengths. If you are hunting big bass, be prepared with a game plan. This prevents blind fishing and will relax your nerves. Organization is a key to success.
Although I briefly touched on this, it is so important to have confidence in what you are doing or the methods you are employing. You simply will be more effective if you believe in yourself and what you are doing. It will make you more aware out on the water. With that awareness, you will become a better angler. If you believe you are doing something to the best of your ability, it usually pays off on the water. Employ tactics that you are practiced in.
I have tremendous confidence in baits that have salt and scent. My feeling about scent is that it is not the attractor company’s claim it is. I feel that once the bass has a scented bait in its mouth, it holds on longer because of the taste. Salted bait as also excellent as far as bait retention goes. When a bass crunches down on a salted bait, I feel that it tastes something natural…maybe the salty taste of blood. That forces the bass to hold on longer.
Even if I am wrong, both of these ingredients give me confidence and help me perform at a higher level. To me that is paramount.
The most important thing I need to stress is preparation. Organize your boat in a manner that you can chase a big bass around it if necessary. Remember your pliers, your scale, a net, your camera and or video equipment. I recently built a mount on my boat for a video camera as I plan to do a ton of big bass fishing this season and want to document it. Don’t be caught out there with the fish of a lifetime and no scale or camera to document it with.
Make sure you have all of the necessary tools while out on the water. You may need to quickly repair a trolling motor or do a little dentist work. I have a holster on my boat seat that holds my tools and keeps them within arms reach. I recommend the Rapala tools and the De Barb. This can go a long way in saving a deep hooked fish. Make sure you use this advice for good and not evil. Release all of the big fish you catch. If you want a mount consider a fiberglass model. They look just as good and last longer.
9- The Numbers add up
If you make a dedicated effort to change your style of bass fishing to specifically target bigger bass, you will notice your numbers will start increasing. That is obvious but true. For the better part of 10 years I put in about 200 days a year on the water. I caught my share of big fish. I caught a lot of them. But I really didn’t concentrate on big fish specifically until the early to mid 90’s. Here, I eliminated many of my small fish practices and started hunting. Each trip is and was a lesson not only for that day but for me to store in my memory. It is imperative that you learn everything about your quarry. This can be done in part by reading but on the water experience is the best way to do it.
As I learned to specifically target bigger fish, my days on the water per year decreased due to my employment responsibilities. However, I found that I was catching more big fish than ever. These little adjustments I had to make in the past were now part of what I did naturally.
I had combined what I learned in 10 years of fishing with my journal work and could calculate where the best opportunities were for me to succeed. I had to do it this way because my time was at a premium. I needed the best bang for my buck at the least expense of time.
In an article I wrote two years ago, I made a statement that I had taken over 1000 bass exceeding 5lbs in weight. I 100% totally stand by that statement. Some guys just can’t fathom that because they may not have captured a single 5lb bass in their lifetime. But, considering that there is more to this than simply going out and casting as many of guys do, it is so possible if you put the effort in to do it right. Most guys would not want to sacrifice the time on the water where they could be catching any size fish let alone not catching a big bass. I do not blame them but I’m glad I decided to take that route.
The truth is that these larger fish do exist in almost all waters to some degree. I get a kick out of people who ask if I think a big bass lives in a specific body of water. It is usually likely, provided there are requirements met to support those big fish. Some waters have an abundance and some only a handful. But, they are out there. It is possible to take more than one on a trip, consider the trip I spoke of earlier, 10 bass weighing 55lbs. That is Florida-like here on LI. These places do exist. You just have to put in a serious effort in order to be rewarded. My absolute best day on LI consisted of a 5 bass limit of 32lb 4oz. That is ungodly and it was all on top water. Within the past 2 years, my big fish hunting all but stopped due to my tournament fishing. I learned very early on the targeting big fish specifically during a tournament was not conducive to success. You are actually fishing for a bite that may not even come, so rather than the chance of that occurring, get a limit and attempt to upgrade. Although I took some big tournament fish, they just happened to be where I was throwing looking for a limit.
To consistently catch big bass, an angler has to put in the time and effort to be rewarded with success. Luck plays no part in consistency. An angler who is skilled in this “Hunting” knows where to go, when to go and what to use. The process is not merely casting and hoping to hook up. It is science in studying the habits of your quarry and trying to make your quarry make a mistake. It does not always work but it gives that angler the best possible angle in succeeding. I am happy to have made certain decisions in my life that led me to this philosophy. I am a better and more effective and experienced angler for doing so.