Bass Q&A
Inside the Outdoors, June 17,

When it comes to bass season, which by the way begins tomorrow, June 18, many questions come to mind. Maybe an angler is fishing along the shore of a creek or standing on a brick sidewalk next to a lake. I found a lot of questions that ran through my mind when I first started fishing for these two species, the largemouth and smallmouth bass. Today, I hope to remove the anxiety that may be plaguing fishers that are targeting fish during the season.

“What bait is best for bass?’ It’s really personal preference. Just as Latrobe’s Matt Demine proved he could catch large trout with nightcrawlers, anglers have also caught large bass with the same bait. Matt liked to piece his crawlers. Bass fishermen or women will usually use the whole crawler.

‘If I am fishing in a stream, how do I present my bait?” Presentation is everything when it comes to catching fish. Personally, I will use a bobber, a 30-inch length of line and a piece of worm hooked to the barbless barb. I state barbless, because I do not keep my bass, not even the large ones. Since I prefer eating trout to bass, I’ll test products to see what works and what doesn’t. My fun is rooted in presentation and product type.

If one is using plastics, such as rubber worms, there are three approaches that I have heard work exceptionally well. One is cast and retrieve, the second is what I call ‘floor fishing,’ and the third, wrist action floor angling.

Cast and retrieve with plastics, or what some call ‘rubber worms,’ is very popular. Some products, such as Crème have a spinner on the front. Another, Kelly’s, has a leader already attached and is scented with anise. If cast out and allow sinking to the bottom, the angler then should slowly retrieve the product. The stop and go motion will get the bass’ attention and in all indications settle for the meal before it. The one nice thing about the Kelly’s worms is that there is more than one hook skillfully threaded in the plastic. I used to have people come into my store and buy cards of these worm look-alikes. And believe me, they do look like worms that we find in our gardens.

‘Floor fishing’ may be a ‘Peeveeism,’ but I think it tells it like it should. On the bottom of each water basin, whether it be the stream or the lake, is the floor. Thus if people are going to fish the bottom, they are actually fishing the floor, so why not call it as it is, ’floor fishing.’

One fellow told me he likes to take plastic crayfish imitations and toss them out and let them settle to the floor. He told me bass would scoop them up as they drop to the bottom or during a slow retrieve.

I’ve never done it, but wrist action floor fishing is a sure bass getter, I’m told. After the bait has settled to the floor (live or plastics), let it sit there for a while. Then motion with the tip of the rod one quick movement up and down. That may attract a bass looking for a meal.

I’ve proved it many times over. Lures, some with rattles in them, are dynamite for bass. Some people prefer the shallow divers, while others like the deep ones. The transparent bills attached to the front of each lure determine this.

There are four that have produced the best for me. The first is the Pee Vee N lures. Those are the ones I sell down at the Farmer’s Market. The second is black and silver Rapala, the Rebel’s Teeny Crawfish, and the fourth, all imitations of the cast and retrieve Leland Lures. Concerning the later, there is one that looks like a rainbow trout. I have nailed any number of fish on that one.

In mentioning these lures, it’s always good to consider what’s in the waters that fish would normally be eating. Then, by substituting artificial bait for the real thing, if it is presented properly, the rest is history.

Recently, I was browsing over the Pennsylvania Outdoor News newspaper only to see a man holding a 17 and one-half inch smallmouth caught out of a state water basin. I had to smile only because I caught the same species that size in the Loyalhanna Creek practically in my back yard on a Rapala. One doesn’t have to travel great distances to catch nice-sized species. They are here, in Ligonier, Latrobe, Derry Township and New Alexandria. And they are on the lookout to take one’s bait.

Keep in mind, bass are very territorial. They will react to anything disturbing their space. I consider ‘noisemakers’ far superior to worms.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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