5 Simple Questions

Since I started doing this column for Bassmaster.com, I've been getting a lot of e-mails asking some very interesting questions. Some of the questions are so thought provoking that I've turned them into columns. Others have been expecting a little too much from me.

For example, I've had several folks ask me what lures I'd throw if I was fishing this lake or that lake. The odds are pretty good that I've never even seen that body of water, much less fished it.

So, rather than try to tell you what lure you ought to be throwing, I'm going to give you a list of five questions you should ask yourself every time you go fishing or think about lure selection.

1. What time of year is it? Think in terms of "bass seasons" — prespawn, spawn, postspawn, summer, fall and winter. How bass behave and where you'll find them depends more on this than anything else. As a result, it has a great deal to do with what lure you'll want to be using.

2. What is the water temperature? Since bass are cold-blooded, they're basically the same temperature as the water. Temperature will dictate whether you can use a fast moving spinnerbait or must stick with a slow moving jig. It also tells me what retrieve speed I can use.

3. What is the water color? Water color will help me decide on a lure color. I go with natural colors (most of the time) if it's clear, and I go with bright colors or black when it's dirty. I also look at light conditions and use the same guidelines.

4. Is there any wind? Conditions might be otherwise ideal for fishing a light jig, but if the wind is howling at 40 mph, there's no way I can feel it. I'll need to change to a heavier bait and probably one that can be effectively fished on a fast retrieve. Most of the time, of course, the wind isn't a determining factor, but when it blows you have to think about it.

5. What is the available forage? Most often, I want to mimic the same food that the bass are eating. If they're targeting shad, I want to use something that looks like a shad. If they want crawfish, I'll probably throw a dark jig or crankbait. I want my lure to fit into their environment and look like food.

If you can answer these five questions, you can go a long way to figuring out just what you should be fishing with and why.

Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me atStephen@thesmallmouthguru.com.

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