5 HOURS LEFT
Groh backs off the flat and casts the lipless crank to the end of the structure, which is adorned with an elaborate hunting blind. “I’d call that the Taj Mahal of duck blinds!”
Groh moves uplake while casting the War Pig around a sloping bank.
Groh casts the lipless crankbait to a clay point, and a big fish loads on! It surges for deeper water, and he works it carefully around his trolling motor, then races to the back of the boat to fight it closer. Just as he reaches out to grab the lunker, it jumps, throwing the hook! The lure flies out of the water and hooks into his jacket. “Dude, that was a solid 5-pounder!”
It takes Groh several minutes to remove the crankbait’s hook from his coat. “I lost a photo fish AND ripped my jacket. That double sucks.”
Groh resumes cranking the War Pig. “It’s real common for a big bass to bump a lipless crankbait in cold water and not hook up solidly, but it still pisses me off.”
Groh moves 100 yards downlake to probe a series of flats and points with the War Pig.
Groh slow rolls the spinnerbait around a shallow pocket.
He tries the craw-colored 6.5 in the center of the pocket. “I’m probably rushing the calendar by fishing these pockets, but the biggest fish are usually the first ones to move into them, so I can’t not try them.”
4 HOURS LEFT
10:09 a.m. A light breeze is blowing out of the southwest as Groh casts the lipless crank to a main-lake flat.
10:14 a.m. Groh races to the opposite shore and casts the War Pig around a secondary point.
10:15 a.m. A big fish slams the War Pig but comes unbuttoned. “Crap, that fish smoked it! I had a hook in it because I felt its head shake.”
10:17 a.m. He dredges the squarebill off a sunken tree. “So far they don’t want anything to do with wood cover.”
10:20 a.m. Groh hits a shallow point with the 1/4-ounce lipless crank.
10:22 a.m. He goes back to throwing the 1/2-ounce War Pig. “I can cast the heavier plug farther across this main-lake structure and cover more water.”
10:34 a.m. A bass hits the lipless crank but doesn’t hook up. “Sucker knocked 2 feet of slack in my line!” What’s Groh’s take on the day so far? “It’s been pretty slow so far, but my gut tells me these fish are as sick of winter as we are, and they’re really wanting to move up shallow. I’ll probably spend my remaining time grinding away with crankbaits and spinnerbaits like I have been. There are some big fish in this lake, if I can just get ’em to stay hooked!”
10:43 a.m. Groh makes a blistering run uplake to an inflowing creek. He rotates between every lure he’s used so far around the tributary’s shallow channel; none of them produces a bass.
10:51 a.m. Groh moves into a shallow cove adjacent to the channel and hauls water on the spinnerbait and lipless crank. “I expected the water to be muddy and warmer up here, but it’s not. This lake just needs to warm up about 5 degrees.”