Keep up with all things "Big Billy Kinder Outdoors"
As I sit here at my computer deep into January, my thoughts more and more every day are filled with budding trees, gobbling turkeys, flowery banks along the lake, 60 degree water and jigs! I guess it’s my favorite way to bass fish. Flipping a big ol’ football jig with a proven trailer into a likely spot that just might hold a photo op! My only double digit bass came on a big jig. The video loop in my mind is still vivid. Murky muddy April water less than a foot deep. I know of a place where the creek channel runs 6 to 8 feet deep with a brushy flat that runs about 15 or 20 feet wide from the edge of the creek to the shoreline. That flat is 2 feet deep or less. It was that flat that I was targeting with a ¾ ounce football jig, dark skirt and watermelon/red rage craw. The water was too stained to sight fish, or visibly locate bass on spawning beds, so I was flipping the big jig close to the bank and slowly hopping it, inches at a time toward the creek channel where I would let it tumble down.
Big females will visit the shallow spawning bed to lay eggs, then move out to the deeper channel nearby, and revisit the bed, or even another nearby bed to lay again. On one particular pitch I landed the jig within a couple of feet of the bank. Hopped it back slightly 2-3 times, and then it happened. The visual that all jig fishermen are familiar with. My line started swimming out towards me. A large percentage of the time the fish will swim with your jig towards deeper water. Along the way she is trying to crush the meal in her mouth while she goes. In other words, she’s likely gonna hold on to it for a bit. A fast reel is necessary. Many times you’ll need to “catch up” with her or reel up your slack line before setting the hook. When I did set the hook that day and the fight began, I quickly realized that this was a new experience for me. I had never felt that “setting the hook in a stump” feeling that I’d heard about with giant bass before, but this was it.
When I set the hook, she didn’t turn, but she did shift gears and pulled the nose of my boat lake-ward. I always use 55 lb braid so breaking off wasn’t likely. When she surfaced I looked into a mouth that was similar to the top of an oversized coffee can. The big 3 pound can. I was alone, so I did the netting myself, and the weighing (10.3), and the photography then released her to finish her springtime chore. Away swam the only 10 pounder that I’ve ever seen on the end of my line.
Since that day there has been one other that might have broken the magical mark, but I never got my hands on her. After a short fight, she came up, shook next to the boat and threw my jig. But I had seen a mouth like that before. She was quality. Sometimes, its swimming line, sometimes you can visibly watch the spring spawner pick up your bait, sometimes you flip that jig into a bush and the whole thing shakes or the grass in the lake moves, the water swirls from a mighty tail doing a 180 to pick up your jig! It’s an exciting way to bass fish. Jigs are certainly not a spring only option, they work well all year, but for me in the springtime the flipping stick is in my hands more than any other weapon. I can safely say that the biggest majority of my 5 to 8 pound largemouth have come on a jig.
Set up your plan now, in January and February. Look at lake maps for ideal spawning areas to target. Go get a heavy backbone 7 ½ foot flipping/pitching rod and a quality reel that a giant fish won’t strip the gears in. It is truly a shock when you feel the strength of a BIG bass. A fast reel is crucial, 7:3 minimum. Practice in the back yard and get good at hitting small targets 20-30 feet from you. The before mentioned coffee can is a perfect pitching target.
*Keep an eye on the water temp. 60 degree water is the number that I watch for. Bass will start thinking about moving shallow at 55 degrees, 65 degree water is game on!
*The bigger females will spawn first. I don’t know if it’s a pecking order or a metabolism thing or what…but they do.
*As mentioned before, the females won’t spend all of their time on the nest or bed. Try running a chatterbait in nearby deeper water as well. I like a chatterbait that mimics a sunfish. Sunfish are bass egg eaters, and bass will attack them in defense of the nesting area.
*Send me a picture! www.bbkoradio.com
January 22, 2020
There’s something peaceful about a cold day at the lake. Alone on the boat with God. The quiet still of winter on a calm cloudy day. This is the same spot that frustrated me so much last summer with ski boats and jet skis buzzing within casting distance of me. I fought constantly to keep my boat from wake washing right on top of my hole. A good drop off that moves abruptly from 14 foot water to 21. This ridge holds bass and crappie year round, but in the hot summer time it’s a slam dunk! Position the boat back a bit from the drop. Throw a six inch watermelon and chartreuse Zoom worm or a Strike King Rage Craw in the same colors up in the fourteen foot water. Slowly work it to the edge, and pay attention while it drops. It might be a light tap or maybe your line just starts swimming off to the side. It might even just stop dropping before it should. This is where the old adage “setting the hook is free” comes in handy. When in doubt, set the hook! This is a proven hang out and travel area for bass positioning themselves to ambush shad. The massive balls of shad seem to be here year round as well. Colder weather usually means working the baits slower or even dead sticking, meaning no movement at all. Cast, sink sit. Colder water means slower moving fish. Give them time and be patient. Its easier to be patient now, all of the lake rocking summer activity has stopped for a few months, heck, most of the fishermen stop coming after the temps drop below 60 or so. There might be a sail boat or two slipping along and kayakers taking advantage of calmer water, but for the most part it’s just you and God’s watchful eye.
There goes my worm! The line is swimming sideways! After a hook set that Jimmy Houston would be proud of, I bring in a nice sized crappie. Crappie are insecure little buggers. They can’t stand alone time. Even when tending a spring time nest of eggs, there will more than likely be another nest close by. They enjoy each other’s company and are most times in large groups. Time to slip the bass rod back into the box and pull out the crappie pole! Easing up on the drop off I keep a close eye on my graph. I’m looking for the change in depth, and a stack of fish. Crappie will look like a Christmas tree on your graph, or maybe a tall stack, like a tree stump. Bass will be singular many times. Once I locate the school, I’ll toss a buoy out about 10 or 15 feet on the downwind side. I’ve marked my spot, noted the depth of the fish, and now I’ll just feed 'em crappie jigs until I can’t take it anymore.
If your water doesn’t freeze up in winter, it’s still a great time to get out on the lake. Take plenty of hot coffee or cocoa, dress right and by all means stay out of the water this time of year. Your catch survives better in the live well. The traffic is gone and there’s no one sitting on the special spot that multiple boats race to in the summer.
December 7, 2017