Day on the lake: Clent Davis

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All photos Don Wirth

Anglers across the country wait for the arrival of spring. When March arrives, bringing with it warming trends across the nation, bass fishing gets good. But, the inevitable spring cold front can have devastating results for anglers trying to get bit. This is the situation Bassmaster Opens pro Clent Davis finds when he arrives at Lake H. With temperatures dropping almost 40 degress, from the 80s to the 40s, what can he do to coax bass into biting? The Alabama pro has a a couple tricks up his sleeve. Follow his lead and you, too, can have a successful day on the water under similar conditions.

7 HOURS LEFT

7 a.m. We launch the Phoenix. Lake H allows trolling motors only, so Davis drops the Minn Kota and checks the lake temp: 54 degrees. “The water looks clear, so they should hit a ‘flash’ lure like a jerkbait or spinnerbait.”

7:05 a.m. Davis makes his first casts of the day to Lake H’s earthen dam with a 3/8-ounce shad-pattern Nichols spinnerbait and promptly catches a 10-inch largemouth.

7:14 a.m. Davis is marking a school of fish suspended 18 feet deep over 25 feet of water on his electronics. “If those are bass, a spoon or a deep-­diving crankbait might catch them, but of course I don’t have either of those in my boat!”

7:16 a.m. Davis switches to a pro blue Duel Hardcore 110 jerkbait on the channel bank. He retrieves it parallel to a submerged tree with rapid jerks and short pauses. “That cold front is moving through here fast. It’s supposed to snow here tomorrow.”

7:22 a.m. Davis tries a 3/8-ounce magic craw Nichols Dee Thomas Finesse Jig with a matching Mister Twister Pocket Craw trailer on the tree-lined channel bank.

7:26 a.m. Davis bags his first keeper of the day, 1 pound even, on the Duel jerkbait. “That fish hit way off the bank.”

7:31 a.m. Davis twitches the jerkbait around some standing timber and catches a tiny bass. “I’ve seen bigger anchovies on pizzas!”

7:34 a.m. Davis is fishing his way toward the upper end of Lake H; the water here is shallower and full of stickups and laydowns. He catches another nonkeeper on the jerkbait.

7:46 a.m. “Check out the murky water flowing in through that culvert!” Davis says. “They should stack up in that runoff.” He tries the jerkbait around the culvert and bags a 10-inch “rat.”

7:53 a.m. Davis follows a main-lake flat uplake, casting the jerkbait. He catches two more short fish. “They’re just hanging off the banks and don’t seem to be on any cover.”

7:59 a.m. He catches keeper No. 2, 1 pound, 2 ounces, on the jerkbait.

6 HOURS LEFT

8:04 a.m. “It’s pretty hard to put down a lure that’s catching lots of fish, even if they’re small,” Davis says as he continues throwing the jerkbait around the flat.

8:09 a.m. Davis ties on a 9/16-ounce Yo-Zuri 3DB Midcrank crankbait in “old school” fire tiger and suffers a major backlash on his cast.

8:13 a.m. Davis switches to a big glide bait around an offshore rockpile. “That rockpile is 6 inches deep on top and 14 feet deep all around it. They should be on that spot sometime today.”

8:18 a.m. He finally catches a squealer off the rockpile on the jerkbait.

8:26 a.m. Davis speed-trolls downlake to a main-lake point. “This point runs halfway out into the lake and falls off into 22 feet of water.” He drags the jig across the structure and catches his third keeper, 1 pound. “Another cookie cutter keeper!”

8:32 a.m. Davis is methodically dragging the jig around the point, gunning for a big fish. “I’m seeing some good fish on my graph out here, if I can just get one to bite.”

8:51 a.m. Davis tries a pro blue Duel Hardcore Shad, a minnow-style crankbait, on the point. “This is a flat-sided bait that works great in cold water.”

8:53 a.m. An undersized bass falls victim to the Hardcore Shad. “Different bait, same size fish. There must be a million of ’em in this lake.”

8:58 a.m. Davis vacates the point and moves to a sloping bank. “That bank with the flooded timber I fished earlier is shaded; this one hasn’t got much wood on it, but it’s in the sun.” Both the Hardcore Shad and jerkbait strike out.

5 HOURS LEFT

9:02 a.m. Davis rigs an Okeechobee craw Mister Twister Flippin’ Out creature on a 3/8-ounce Nichols Bulldozer jighead, then sprays it liberally with Fish Bomb crawfish attractant. “If these fish eat crawfish, they should chomp this!”

9:11 a.m. He pitches the creature beneath a boat dock but hauls water.

9:20 a.m. Davis gets a solid tap near the tree, sets the hook, but misses the fish. “That felt like a better bite. Maybe the big ones are finally waking up.”

9:38 a.m. Davis has moved back to the timbered channel bank. “So far I haven’t caught anything up shallow. I’m going to drag bottom some more, and maybe throw a squarebill crankbait around wood cover.”

9:40 a.m. Davis moves two cast-lengths off the channel bank and slowly drags the creature in 20 feet of water. “I hate dragging! I’m more of a power fisherman.”

9:44 a.m. The 20-mph north wind is making Davis’ teeth chatter. He’s on the shady channel bank casting another Nichols spinnerbait; this one weighs a 1/2 ounce and has dull green painted blades.

9:50 a.m. Davis switches to a shad colored Mister Twister SwimSation swimbait on a half-ounce head. “I helped design this lure; it has the baitfish profile and boot tail of a swimbait plus a couple of creature legs for added vibration.” He casts it to a pod of suspended bass and swims it through the pack.

4 HOURS LEFT

10 a.m. Davis fishes the creature around standing timber.

10:11 a.m. Davis replaces the Flippin’ Out creature with a Pocket Craw and resumes probing the timber. “They haven’t been on this wood so far.”

10:14 a.m. He slow rolls the SwimSation near the trees. No luck.

10:19 a.m. Still searching for the right presentation, Davis replaces the Pocket Craw with a 4-inch Mister Twister Buzz Bug in the juju (green pumpkin/orange) color. What’s his take on the day so far? “I’ve seen tons of fish either suspended or on the bottom in deep water, but they’re mostly undersized bass. An early March cold front can impact big bass much harder than small ones, but I’m seeing a few big hooks on my graph, and if I can get a lure close to them, a big fish may bite it. I’ll spend some of my remaining time power fishing with a crankbait, mainly because I really hate dragging a jig!”

10:23 a.m. Davis ties on a red craw Yo-Zuri 3DS crankbait. “This is the deepest crankbait I’ve got with me; it dives to 12 feet. I wish I’d brought some 20-footers, but they’re back home in my garage.”

10:28 a.m. Davis speeds to the upper end of Lake H and grinds the 3DS around submerged timber.

10:34 a.m. He switches to the green-bladed spinnerbait and catches back-to-back dinks.

10:41 a.m. Davis twitches the jerkbait at the edge of a gravel flat. “This is an ideal spawning spot. They should stage off the end of it.” He hooks a short fish and shakes it free.

10:44 a.m. Davis has caught three more nonkeepers on the jerkbait. “This is my go-to lure for lunker bass in cold, clear water. I’m still confident a big one will hit it.”

10:52 a.m. He moves to the murky inflow he fished earlier and bags two more short fish on the jerkbait.

3 HOURS LEFT

11 a.m. Davis ties on a chartreuse/black back Yo-Zuri 3DB squarebill crankbait and casts it to the murky inflow.

11:17 a.m. Davis drops his Power-Poles, pulls out a spinning rod and ties on a 1/16-ounce Nichols Toad Stool finesse jighead. He pinches a tiny section off a 4-inch green pumpkin Mister Twister Comida finesse worm and threads it on the hook — it’s the legendary Ned rig! “This is primarily a ‘numbers’ bait, but I’ve caught 6-pounders on it.”

11:21 a.m. Davis casts the Ned rig to the side of the rockpile he fished earlier. “This is literally a ‘do nothing’ lure; you either let it sink to the bottom or count it down to whatever depth you want and then slowly reel it back through the water column.” His line hops, and he sets the hook and reels in his fourth keeper of the day, another 1-pound bass. “See? I told you it works!”

11:27 a.m. In short order, Davis whacks five more nonkeepers off the rockpile on the Ned rig. “You could vacuum up every little fish in the lake with this rig! I just hope I can stick some big ones with it.”

11:29 a.m. Davis boats his fifth keeper, 1 pound, off the rockpile on the Ned rig. “Amazing! It’s just like they’re coming off a freakin’ assembly line.”

11:35 a.m. Davis moves two cast-lengths off the rockpile and shakes the Ned rig on the bottom. Immediately, a dink grabs it. “Stable weather is definitely the biggest key to catching big fish this time of year. Eighty degrees one day and 40 the next makes it tough.”

11:40 a.m. He tries the SwimSation in the same spot. “They’re pecking at it, but they’re too small to eat it.”

11:44 a.m. Davis casts the jerkbait to the side of the rockpile.

11:46 a.m. Davis catches his sixth keeper, 1 pound, 3 ounces, off the rockpile on the jerkbait; it culls one of his 1-pounders.

11:52 a.m. The wind is now blowing out of the northeast. Davis has moved to the long point he fished earlier and is twitching the jerkbait.

11:56 a.m. Davis gets a solid strike on the jerkbait. He reels down on the fish, but it comes unbuttoned. “Dang it, that was a good one!”

2 HOURS LEFT

12:03 p.m. Davis catches his seventh keeper, 1 pound, 1 ounce, off the point on the red craw crankbait; it culls another 1-pounder. “They’re getting bigger, but not by much!”

12:09 p.m. He switches to a half-ounce ghost perch Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe lipless crankbait and catches a short fish off the point.

12:13 p.m. Davis has had either a tap or a short fish on every cast with the lipless crank. “There’s got to be a big fish on this point somewhere.”

12:15 p.m. He boats another 1-pound keeper on the Rattl’n Vibe; it’s no help.

12:22 p.m. Davis moves back to the rockpile to try the Rattl’n Vibe. Bluebird skies prevail now that the front has settled in.

12:26 p.m. Davis shifts to a nearby gravel flat and gets a solid strike on the lipless crank, but the fish shakes free. “That one felt bigger.”

12:32 p.m. He grinds the red craw crankbait across the flat and catches a short fish. “Getting bites has not been the problem; it’s getting the right bites.”

12:36 p.m. Davis locates a citrus shad Duel 3+. “This one dives 12 or 13 feet; not as deep as I’d like, but it’s the deepest thing I’ve got with me.”

12:40 p.m. Davis retrieves the Duel 3+ parallel to a sloping bank.

12:44 p.m. He switches to the Ned rig and catches two short fish on two casts.

12:50 p.m. Davis is sitting on top of a big school of fish hugging the bottom 24 feet deep. He rigs a 10-inch blue flake Mister Twister Hang 10 worm on the Bulldozer jighead and casts it to the school. “Maybe this is what those big girls want.”

1 HOUR LEFT

1:06 p.m. Davis has had no luck on the big worm. “Those fish are so small, it’s probably scaring them!” He switches to the SwimSation.

1:10 p.m. Back to the Hang 10. Davis feels resistance and sets the hook, but the fish pulls loose. “That was another little guy chewing on the tail.”

1:13 p.m. Davis has spotted three “seriously big” hooks on his graph. He drops the Hang 10 straight down and shakes it on the bottom but can’t entice a lunker to bite.

1:18 p.m. He slow rolls the SwimSation past the deep fish and gets a tap, but doesn’t hook up.

1:22 p.m. Davis rigs a 6-inch Mister Twister Pocket Shaker finesse worm on a 3/16-ounce shaky head and casts it to the dam.

1:32 p.m. Davis has caught four short fish around the dam on the shaky head. He moves back to the long main-lake point and catches another 1-pound keeper.