Few feelings are more heartbreaking than bowing up on a 5-pound bass only to have it pull free halfway back to the boat. For the weekend angler, in a split second the opportunity for a great photo has vanished and for a tournament angler, it could mean thousands of dollars.
However, according to Elite Angler Ish Monroe, the opportunity to catch that same bass may not be lost — just delayed. Monroe has seen many instances when a lost bass has ended up in his livewell either later that day or at some point during the following day. It all comes down to how he deals with the situation and the game plan he hatches to entice it to strike again.
"It happens all the time," explains the popular California pro. "For instance, I'll be going down a bank and hook a big bass on a particular bush, and it will pull off. Usually what I'll do after losing a bass like that is let the fish settle down." Rather than immediately beating the piece of cover with cast after cast, he will back off and give it a break.
"Especially on an isolated piece of cover, that fish has missed its meal, so it's definitely willing to bite again. It just comes down to presenting that bait to the fish again at the right time," says Monroe. For him, "the right time" could be anywhere from a few hours to the next afternoon.
"I'll approach it from the same angle because obviously I got a bite previously doing the same thing. I'll start out with the same bait, same approach, same everything and usually that fish will eat the same thing a second time," he says.
What keeps many anglers from capitalizing on a lost bass is their failure to keep their emotions in check. "The most common mistake I see a lot of weekend anglers make after losing a bass is they'll make a lot of noise, disturb the water, and hit the trolling motor on high because they are excited. All that really does is spook the bass away from its home."
When a bedding bass is involved in this scenario, Monroe changes tactics, often downsizing his offering to get a second chance. "If I was initially using heavy line and a big bait, I'll move to lighter line and a finesse bait to get that fish back in the mood again," he explains. "I'll switch to 8-pound fluorocarbon and a little finesse worm or shakey head."
Monroe readily admits that spring is the easiest time of year to get a second chance at catching a previously hooked bass. "During spring, many bass are in guard mode, so it is without a doubt the easiest time of year to get them to bite again. They aren't thinking about eating — they're focused on guarding and protecting." The next time you lose a bass at the boat, take some of these strategies from Monroe and instead of having a sob story at the ramp, you can show off a photo of a chunky bass. It's all about second chances.
(Provided exclusively to BASS Insider by Z3 Media)