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Bass Fishin, Freshwater or Salt?

Bass Fishin, Freshwater or Salt? Bass Fishin, Freshwater or Salt?
By Jim Hammond

When you say you are going fishing for Bass, what does it mean? I guess it depends who you are and where you are in the continental United States. For someone that lives in Tennessee it can mean only one thing Freshwater Bass. Whether it means small mouth, spotted or largemouth, it still means only one thing, freshwater bass fishing. Now, for someone that lives down here, it could mean, largemouth bass or red bass.

I had the opportunity this past week, to take someone fishing that was a freshwater bass fisherman. He lives in Tennessee and fishes exclusively for freshwater bass, largemouth, spotted and smallmouth. He said that he had been salt water fishing a few times in the St. Johns River, but had never fished for red bass like I do. When he first called to set up the trip, he asked what kind of fishing we were going to do. I replied, "chuncking and winding". This term I learned from my Freshwater bass fishing days and I new that he would be able to relate to this. He said, this is what he wanted to hear, so we set up the trip and he began with his list of questions as to what type of lures, where, how, when, what type of line, rod and reel and so on. I answered most of his questions and told him that I supplied ALL tackle. I was trying to get him to leave his freshwater bass equipment at the house and use my stuff. The reason that I wanted him to use my stuff and not his, is because he wanted to use 10 lb test monofilament and I knew that we were going to be fishing around submerged oyster mounds. Monofilament has it's place and in some situations monofilament works well, but not around oyster mounds and especially not around oyster mounds that you cannot see.

When I arrived at Clapboard Creek Fish Camp my bass fishing charter was already there and very excited about his chance to bass fish for red bass. See, one of my styles of red bass fishing, is just like fishing for freshwater bass. He had just come off a big win with a bass tournament and was still pumped up from the $55,000 prize that he had won. He was so pumped up, he could hardly sit still, he was ready for our bass, RED BASS.

We loaded up, launched the boat and pointed it toward the direction of our quarry. He like so many others that I take, had never been in a boat with a Honda Outboard pushing it. He kept saying "this is the quietest motor I have ever heard". That is one of the many pluses about a Honda.

As the Honda 130 pushed us through the maze of feeder creeks, he was saying look at that and pointing to some of the wildlife that is not common in the waters of Tennessee. We saw flipper and white pelicans in the first mile or so and many other birds including an bald eagle and several osprey. We had traveled about four miles up the creek system and on this morning, IT WAS COLD.

When we got to the first of what was going to be many spots, we saw birds working the surface. This is usually a good sign but this day they were picking up poggies that were too cold to swim. The past two weeks the water temperature has dropped about 12 to 14 degrees and my Lowrance X-15 was showing the water temp as 47 degrees. When the water temperature falls very fast, as it had done in the past two weeks, fragile fish like poggies, have a hard time adjusting and are actually stunned by the cold water. When this happens they cannot swim to get away from the predators so the birds have an easy meal.

We fished this area for a while with no bites, so we were off to the next spot. We headed for a creek that is close to the ocean. I thought that the water would be a little warmer there and we would have better success. When we arrived to this creek the water temp was a bit warmer, 51 degrees but the fishing was no better than in the previous creek. We then headed for the next spot and then the next and the next. We had been fishing for way too long without a fish but I knew that once the water started to fall, the action would increase. We fished one more creek near the ocean with no success.

It was time, time to take him to one of my secret X spots. You know about these spots, spots that you NEVER take anyone that lives in this area, a spot that always holds fish, a spot that you do not want anyone seeing you fish. You know the spot, you all have at least a few of these tucked away for those emergency days.

As we came off plane, I asked him again to use my tackle. See, all day, he had been using his and he had 10 pound test mono on the spool and he was having to retie almost every cast and was losing way too many jig heads. When you use light mono around oyster mounds the line gets nicks and cuts which reduces your 10 pound test mono to 1/2 pound test mono. Then when you set the hook the line breaks and NO FISH for you. I had been trying to get him to either use my new Shakespeare Catera reels and Ugly Stik Lite rods that are spooled with Power Pro or remove the mono from his reel and spool some Power Pro on it. One of the reasons for the Power Pro is it is almost impervious to the monofilament eating oyster mounds.

He wanted to keep using his tackle. I told him again that this was a dangerous area for light monofilament and there were some nice red bass here and he was going to have a very tough time getting them to the boat with his mono. Not only were we contending with the oysters in this area but we were fishing on the edge of grass. When you hook one of the fish in this area they almost always run into the grass. The Power Pro will cut through the grass and the light mono breaks.

I could not get him to change so we eased along the edge, using the trolling motor to propel us quietly as he cast to the grass line. I told him the bite from these big red bass was very much like a largemouth bite when using a soft plastic worm. It is a light tap, not at all what you would expect from a fish with so much power.

He had been working this area for about 10 minutes when I saw his rod tip thump. I said "that was a bite, lower your rod tip, take up the slack and hit him". He did just as I said and was hooked up on a very nice fish. He had the fish on for about 15 seconds, just long enough for the fish to make his way to the grass and break the mono. I asked him again to put some of this Power Pro in his reel and once again he said he wanted to use mono. I tied on another jig and back at it we went. Another few minutes of casting produced another strike, another hook set and another 15 second fight. This fish also broke the mono as he ran into the grass. I now was just a little frustrated and was almost ready to take his reel and spool Power Pro on it myself.

He asked for another jig and I just stood there as if I did not here him. He then asked again and I said, "you have two choices, re-spool with Power Pro or we are going to fish out in the middle where there are no oysters or fish". That, got his attention, we pulled off the mono and took Power Pro from one of my reels and spooled it on his. I was now ready for him to catch some of these nice red bass. On his first cast with the new line he was hooked up. This fish did exactly the same as the two previous, right for the grass. This time he was able to work the fish out of the grass and back to open water. After a few more minutes he had the fish along side and was ready for the net. I slipped the net under the fish and in the boat came a very nice red bass. Before I could get the fish from the net, my angler was scrambling for his camera. He wanted a picture of his first nice red bass. We did the photo thing, released the fish and back to fishing we were. I asked him how he liked the Power Pro and he asked me where could he buy some of this great line. I kinda grinned and said to myself "it's about time I got that mono off and Power Pro on". I then told him to go to Rick's Bait and Tackle on Beach Blvd., 992-4646 or go to Power Pro's website,

He not only liked the fact that it would cut through the grass and the oysters didn't hurt it but it cast much farther than the 10 pound mono that was on the spool. I am pretty sure he will be a Power Pro user when he gets back to his local waters and he will probably land more fish.

We got right back at it and a few cast later he was hooked up again. This time the bite came from a Sea Striker 3 1/2 inch rubber grub, white with a chartreuse curly tail that had been hooked to a Jaw Jacker 1/4 ounce jig. On the hook set the fish came out of the water just like a largemouth. I don't mean caused a splash on the surface, I mean came completely out of the water and shook his head just like a freshwater bass. He had battled with this fish for about two minutes when he said get the net he is ready. I sort of grinned and said not yet, as the fish ran past the boat and pulling off another forty feet of line. A minute or so later he said he's ready now and I once again grinned as the fish screamed past the boat, pulling out another thirty feet or so of line. He fought the fish for another minute or so before it was ready for the net. I once again slid the net under the fish and to the boat he came. This was the largest so far and the angler was now saying things like wow, nice fish, how much does he weigh, how long is he and I gotta get a picture of this one. We first measured the fish, he was right at 26 1/2 inches long. We then put him on the Boga Grip and he weighed 9 1/4 pounds. After a few pictures he did as most freshwater bass fisherman do, released the fish to fight another day.

We then headed for a flat that only had about 10 to 12 inches of water on it but held some fish on the low tide. This was the right choice as this flat was loaded with quality fish. We were about to run out of daylight and as the sun dropped behind the horizon the temperature fell about as fast. We made a few more cast and landed a couple more fish, all nice ones. He couldn't get over how you could see these fish cruising in such shallow water and still catch them. He made one more cast and he was hooked up. This fish ran past the boat so fast, the angler had to jump from the front casting deck and run to the back of the boat, stick his rod in the water and around the Honda 130, and back to the front of the boat. This is what is called a fire drill. He was able to get control of the fish and after a few minutes we landed another one. It was now getting to the point where I was going to have to get off of this flat or spend the night, as the water was still falling and even though my boat will float in about 8 to 10 inches, the west wind was going to empty this flat in another few minutes.

We pulled up the trolling motor and headed back to the dock. After loading the boat, we hung out and talked for a few minutes as he commented on some of the lessons that he learned today. He was very impressed on how much harder and longer a red bass fights compared to a largemouth. He also liked the way that we fished, just like fishing for largemouth. He also said he was going to run down to Rick's and buy some Power Pro before he went back to Tennessee. All in all, we had another great day on the water, fishing for bass, red bass.

This past week I had the opportunity to see some footage of the new HONDA 225 hp, what a motor. If you are thinking about purchasing a boat that can handle a 225 or a pair of 225's, you need to look at this motor. You can get some information at your local Honda Dealer, in Jacksonville, Crews N II Outboard, 724-1400 or go to

Catch some local fishing action Tuesday nights at 7:00 pm on cable channel 7 in Jacksonville, the Beaches and Clay County and Thursday nights at 7:00 pm on channel 22 in St. Augustine and St. Johns County.

Good Fishing
Capt. Jim Hammond

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