Why you should fish better lakes

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Steve Bowman

When I say something like that everyone thinks that the answer is obvious. Well, maybe…

The deal is that you’ll catch more bass in better lakes than you will in gar-holes. But what that really means is more complicated.

Recreational anglers who fish for fun or hobby-type tournament anglers mostly don’t want to spend all day working hard to catch one or two small bass. That’s not fun to them, and in truth it’s not fun for the pros either. 

But underneath that is the learning part of fishing. It’s hard to perfect your skills as an angler when you’re not getting bites. How can you learn to set the hook using a plastic bait when you only do it a couple of times a day? You need dozens of bites to really learn how to hold your rod, how long to wait before you set the hook and how hard to jerk. Those skills develop over a period of time after you’ve caught hundreds of bass.

The same idea applies to lure selection. How can you ever know whether a small, light jig is getting you more bites than a big, heavy one unless you can compare a dozen or more bites fishing with both? And, those bites need to come from the same type of structure or cover and maybe from the same general area.

So, you see, fishing better bass lakes is more than just fun. It’s also a learning experience that’s impossible to duplicate in a sorry lake or river — sorry from a bass fishing perspective. 

Another thing that has to be taken into consideration is that sometimes bass don’t bite very well. There are days when the best anglers struggle. Struggling in a poor bass fishing reservoir is a tough, demoralizing experience. Struggling in a better reservoir still might get you a couple. That may not be great, but it’s sure better than nothing.

Finding the better places isn’t all that difficult. You don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to far away places or spend a lot of money on fishing trips. Checking out small, local lakes — those with low or no horse power limits — is a good way to start. 

Many anglers with fancy bass boats don’t like to fish them because they can’t run fast, or they think it’s beneath them. You can take advantage of that wrong thinking. Launch your boat, trim the big motor up and take the keys out of the ignition. You’ll be good to go in most places. (Check with your state DNR to be sure, however. I don’t want you to get a ticket.) 

In a lot of cases you’ll be fishing for bass that may not have ever seen a crankbait or plastic worm. That’s a great way to catch numbers and gain experience.

One criticism of what I just said that I sometimes hear is that these lakes don’t always produce big bass. Really? I can’t speak for the rest of the country but here in the South they sure do. But even if the lack of big bass thing is true, I say "so what." I’m a serious pro angler, and I love to catch 2-pounders. I don’t want to fish all day and catch two or three but if I can catch a couple of dozen I’m having a ball.

Look around — winter is a good time to do that — and find a couple of the better lakes to fish in your neighborhood. It’ll make a difference in your enjoyment of the sport and in your skills.