BASSfest went well. Because everyone got the same number of Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points, we all were really fishing to win. It was almost like a Classic. I especially liked the fan interaction. That always gets me going.
My time was spent fishing offshore, looking for bigger fish. On the first day, I had an experience in late morning that I’ll never forget. It might have been the most magical 90 minutes ever in my fishing life.
I found a big shellbed in practice that had lots of bass on it. I knew it held good fish but we all know there’s a big difference between finding bass and catching bass, especially when they’re offshore on the ledges in warmer water.
Conditions were perfect when I hit it in the middle of the morning on Wednesday. I caught a bass between 3 and 5 pounds on every single cast for well over an hour, and I only lost one on the way to my boat. It was unbelievable. I caught at least 40 or 50 bass.
Three things came together to make that happen. I’ll give you the details. Maybe it’ll help you somewhere down the line.
First, the current was basically perfect. They’d just started pulling water when I started fishing. It was moving a little bit but it wasn’t running. I think that put the bass in a feeding mode. They were anticipating what was about to happen. That’s one of the best times to catch them. Think about it — sometimes anticipation is more exciting than the real thing.
Secondly, I had the right bait and the right retrieve. When you first start fishing you want to catch one but, at the same time, you want to excite the school. I was able to do that with a Rapala DT16 in Ike’s Caribbean Shad. I was cranking it fast with a high-speed reel, almost too fast. But that’s what they wanted.
The final thing was to get the right line on the shellbed and the school of fish that was holding on it. That’s critically important when you’re fishing offshore. I mark the area with waypoints on my electronics but then I drop a marker buoy the first time I catch one. That allows me to make the same cast over and over.
I caught every fish using the same lure, using the same retrieve on the same line.
If there’s a lesson for us in this, it’s that you have to take your time and fish right. Think things through before you pick up your rod and reel. Remember what you did and then repeat it if you caught a fish. There are no accidental bites. I knew that but it really helped to have it reinforced in a positive way.
I should be back home by late this evening. Tomorrow morning I’ll start getting ready for the Delaware River Elite Series tournament. That one’s important to me. It’s where I started fishing as a kid. I want to make a good showing there for more than one reason. We’ll talk more about that next week.