However, when all the factors are at their peak efficiency, anglers can find themselves walking away with amazing memories and perhaps even a trophy fish.
The stars aligned for me and my friends during a recent fishing trip in northeast Kansas. My friend Linnzi asked me if I wanted to go fishing on some property in Douglas County. The land holds several beautiful ponds, including one that is a bass-fishing haven virtually unfettered by human interaction.
I got out to their place about 6:45 that morning. Linnzi and her boyfriend, Dave, threw their rods and tackle in the back of my truck and we made our way to one of the ponds that had been stocked with crappie in the past.
We got to the first pond around 7 a.m. with the sun just starting to come up and fished about 45 minutes with no success, so we packed up our stuff and headed to the bass pond, where we figured we’d have better luck.
I have an app on my iPhone called Fishing Calendar that has proven useful to me during the past year or so. The app tells the exact times when the bites will begin and end with striking accuracy and even shows a percentage of what fishing efficiency you can expect for the day. On this particular day, the best bite was forecast to occur between 7:45 and 9:45 that morning, with another peak between 8:10 and 10:10 that night.
Like clockwork, the bite turned on just as we arrived at the new pond. On my first cast using a night crawler and bobber on my crappie pole, the line was instantly hit as soon as the worm touched water and the light fluorocarbon leader snapped the moment it was hit. Whatever took the worm must have been big, I thought, so I grabbed my big bass rod with 20-pound, newly spooled Sufix Siege line and cast out a B&P Jighead 4-inch Senko worm that was Wacky rigged on a VMC Neko hook — the same setup I had torn up bass on a week earlier at another pond.
I let the worm slowly sink, but unbeknownst to me my anti-reverse had been flipped during the ride and the memory of my new line caused it to start unspooling and tangling until I had a nasty bird’s nest. I messed with the line for a few minutes, getting frustrated as I knew the fishing action was about to heat up. Across the pond, Linnzi had just hooked into her first bass of the day on a worm and bobber, and I knew time was a luxury. I decided to bite off one end of my line, then the other before all the tangles, and then drag the line in and re-tie my hook. However, after I bit off the part of the line that connected to the hook, the bright orange line began moving in the water and I knew I had a fish on my hook. I hurried to bite off the rest of the bird’s nest, and by the time I was ready to connect the lines, the one attached to my hook had come out of my rod eyelets and sat precariously near the water’s edge. If the bass got spooked and swam off, he’d been gone.
The 16-plus-inch football of a largemouth had inhaled the VMC #1 hook — which didn’t surprise me as it had the bait in its mouth for several minutes — so I had to get some needle-nosed pliers from my truck to extract the hook from its throat. He was an absolute chunker, despite not being as long as I thought, and probably weighed between 3 and 4 pounds.
After I released the nice bass, I got back on track. I quickly caught two more largemouths on the ensuing casts, both between 1 1/2 and 2 pounds, but decided to change lures because the knot where the thick fishing lines met was affecting my casts. I went back to my truck bed, cut off the excess length and switched to B&P’s eighth-ounce Tru Set Shakyhead jig. The company offers a cool creature bait called a Slim Pappy that looks great in the water and fit perfectly with the longer 4/0 hook when rigged weedlessly. Since the Motor Oil Crawl color had worked so well in the surprisingly clear water, I used that color for the Slim Pappy.
As I was walking back toward the bank, Linnzi hooked into a monster bass using a swim bait she had switched to. The lunker was 18 inches long and a solid 4 pounds. The fish in this creek-fed pond definitely eat well. She even got down and hand released the beautiful fish, watching it recover for a couple seconds in the shallows before kicking off with a big splash and disappearing into the depths.
I put out a few more casts, and it took me a few minutes to adjust to the new hook. I cast out and let the lure sink, then watched my line slowly begin take off in the opposite direction. It’s crazy how many of my bites I can see now before I even feel them using the colored fishing lines.
I set the hook perhaps a little too soon, however, and when the big bass surfaced it shook the lure loose. When I saw how big the fish was that just got off, I about kicked myself, but I put the lure back in the same spot, and sure enough, the big bruiser came right back to it.
This time, when the line started creeping away, I let it sit until I could feel the rod tip loading up with the weight of the fish and then hammered home the hookset. The big girl came up three times and tried to shake the hook loose, but the B&P Tru Set jig held true to its name. Still, all of that splashing made me nervous, so I decided I wasn’t going to fiddle with grabbing the big bass out of the water and instead was going to “boat flip” it onto the bank.
Still, I got the fish on dry land, so I wasn’t complaining.
The thick bass measured 19 inches long, one shy of my personal best, and must have come close to 5 pounds. I caught a few more bass ranging from 1-3 pounds, totaling eight in only about 2 1/2 hours. Linnzi had seven total, and between the two of us we probably could have won most Kansas bass tournaments with a five-fish weigh-in. Dave also caught a fish toward the end, a beautiful channel cat that hit on a Storm swimbait he was using. We forgot to measure it, but it had good length and probably was up there around 6-7 pounds, if not more.
We didn’t fish long, as the bite tailed off right around the time my app said it would, but it was easily one of the best days of bass fishing I’ve ever experienced.