It’s time for the bass to chase me

In the first Bassmaster Opens Elite Qualifier events at Eufaula and Toledo Bend, I did what I love to do. I chased bass in shallow water. It didn’t pay off.

This year’s weird winter and spring have been giving me fits. I’m fishing in shorts one day and bundled up to keep warm in my Frog Toggs the next.

Even with water temperatures in the 70s, the bass have been holding back. Normally, they hang around a little bit after they spawn. This year they’ve been leaving immediately.

Guys like me who like to sack bass in shallow water have been blindsided by the “scopers.” They’ve dominated the first two EQs by catching offshore bass with forward-facing sonar. It has even had me wondering if I’m going to have to become one of those guys.

I believe conditions will favor the way I like to fish when we get to the next EQs at Buggs Island and Wheeler Lake. The days are getting longer, the weather and the water are getting warmer and fresh rainwater is flowing into the lakes.

We’ll also be getting into the shad spawn. Bream will be up on the banks a little more. That makes for some exciting topwater action.

No doubt about it, shallow fishing is fixin’ to get really good. I’ll be doing the catching and not the chasing.

I believe there will still be a lot of bedding bass over this month. And, the ones that have spawned will stay awhile. I should be able to run to the backs of the creeks and catch some good ones. In the first two tournaments, I could only catch little bass doing that.

When the shallow bite is on, I can botch one or two good bass in a day and still catch enough quality fish to keep me in the running. In the first two EQs I couldn’t recover if I lost even one good fish.

That doesn’t mean I won’t be tuned into the four Lowrance graphs on my boat. C-Map will help me find productive shallow areas. I’ll use SideScan to locate stumps and other cover under the surface.

And, yes, I’ll even use Active Target to help me see cover and fish in front of my boat.

Active Target isn’t just for deep water. I always keep an eye on it in the shallows to see cover under the water. I usually pan out 50 to 80 feet.

If the lake has submerged grass, Active Target shows if there are any bass or baitfish swimming around in it.

When I get to Buggs Island, I’ll mill around both ends of the lake. I’ll look in the clearer water for leftover spawners and in the dingier water where I can catch feeding fish with moving baits like a Berkley spinnerbait. It has a great hook and a PowerBait skirt.

I’m tired of chasing bass that aren’t there. Now it’s time for the bass to chase me in the shallows.