That big bass thing I talked about

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Mark Menendez
Andy Crawford
Mark Menendez

Those of you who follow this column know I wrote a giant bass piece in late January. In fact, I wrote a column about how tough it is to catch a giant bass. Well, the 2019 Power-Pole Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns sort of made me look incompetent, but it also proved my point. 

There’s no doubt that the number of big, heavyweight bass that were brought to the scales was mind boggling. At the same time, though, there were many more smaller — smaller is not the same as small — ones weighed in at the end of each day. 

Here’s the thing…

The fishing on the St. Johns River was a perfect confluence of factors that made all of those big bass possible. We’ll look at the fishery first. It’s big, it’s in Florida with a long growing season, and the bass are Florida strain. Add to that the fact that there’s more forage there than any bass could hope to ever eat. 

Those factors combine to make for big largemouth bass, more than in most other waters. They have everything they need to grow big and die of old age. That means that there’s a huge number of bass with the genetic makeup to not only grow big themselves but to also create offspring that’ll grow big. 

The second factor was that the weather was warming and a front was approaching. No one is quite sure why, but we know that an approaching front will trigger a bite. Along with that we were in a new moon, or close to it. That always helps move the late spawners shallow looking for a place to spawn.

The final thing is what I briefly mentioned in the other column — dedicated anglers. We’re Bassmaster Elite Series professional anglers. We don’t target 2-pound bass, certainly not in a Florida fishery. They might be fun to catch, but all they’ll get you at the weigh-in is a butt kicking and an early drive home. There’s no point in looking for them. They’re not what we’re about.

So what happens out there is that we all work towards finding the prespawn females that are staged out in a little deeper water, or in some cases they’ve moved up shallow but aren’t on their beds yet. And, to be fair, there were a number of really nice females caught off their beds. 

We’re experienced at finding those bass. There’s no way I want that statement to come across as arrogant or conceited, but the facts are the facts. We know how to cull through keepers and look for bass that’ll get us a check or a trophy on Sunday. 

The bottom line on this big bass stuff is that under some circumstance they’re out there and can be caught. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, and it doesn’t mean that all the factors I mentioned will come together very often. I assure you they will not. 

This is fishing. It’s unpredictable, and it’ll cause you many, many sleepless nights. But that’s what makes it fun and worth the effort.