Circle on Bass
A bevy of catching tips
By Homer Circle
Bassmaster, March 2003
Little things can loom big in a day’s go at bass. Each of the following tidbits emerged from something that added value to an outing. So, let Uncle Homer share these with you in the hope that any one of them will pick up a sagging day.
Pay close attention to your bass hooks. Be certain of two things: 1) proper tempering, so a big bass can’t straighten one out; and 2) a point made needle-sharp by honing it until the point will suspend from your thumbnail.
Release bass to live on by being certain they will. Exhaustion after a hard battle can be fatal unless you properly revive each one. Hold in current with the bass’ mouth open to aerate gills. In still water, hold the mouth open and move the bass in a circular pattern. When released, it should swim away. If not, continue aeration until it can.
To reduce line cost, fill your reel spool with any kind of linear backing, and add only enough monofilament to reach 20 feet beyond your longest cast. At this line juncture, install a strip of electrician tape and wind over it. Then, if you get a real bad backlash, the line can’t cut any deeper than the tape for an easier unraveling.
Don’t try to outguess Mom Nature when it comes to weather. If an electrical storm is brewing and blowing wind in your direction, you can estimate how far away it is by counting from the moment you see lightning until you hear thunder. Each second represents about 1,100 feet, or about one-fifth of a mile. Stay safe by leaving the water in plenty of time to reach shelter.
When a lure is so light it is difficult to reach a target, let it hang down about a foot from your rod tip. This will increase casting leverage to yield greater distance.
What is the best weight fishing line to use? Here is a simple guide: for 1/8 ounce lures, 4-pound test; 1/4 ounce, 6-pound test; 1/3 to 1/2 ounce, 10-pound test; upward of 1/2 ounce, 15-pound test. In weedy water, stay with the heaviest line for maximum durability and strength.
If your Texas rigged worm and bullet slide sinker aren’t catching bass from shoreline covers, try this: Reverse the bullet sinker so that the flat rear becomes the leading edge. Cast, let it sink to the bottom, and let the concave head bulldoze “wet dust” from the bottom as you twitch it along. This can trigger strikes from curious bass.
Studies of bass by biologists using implanted radio transmitters have proved that there are certain bass that become wary of lures. But these can occasionally be coaxed into hitting a lure if it appears unlike those it is accustomed to.
So, try speed trolling. Give them a lure going faster than anything they’ve ever seen. The best one I’ve found for this is a lipless vibrator like a Sonic, or a Rat-L-Trap. Troll 10 to 15 mph, close to shoreline covers bordering dark water – it can save an otherwise bassless day.
There are those times when bigger bass follow your lure but won’t grab it. Try this tricky tactic: Have your fishing buddy use a surface lure with spinners fore and aft. While he casts into shoreline hangouts and slowly retrieves the surface lure, you work a lizard just below it. It is possible that a bass thinks the lizard is a predator stalking the surface lure, and being distracted this way, the bass would not see another predator preying on it. Give it a go; it has worked for ol’ Unc.
When fishing in remote areas, always take along extra toilet tissue for a shore chore. Using leaves may sound Daniel Booney, but it is risky practice, because many leaves beside poison ivy can cause a rash that will be both miserable and difficult to treat.
The popular white bass, pound for pound one of our toughest battlers, is a descendent of the large striped bass. Biologists crossed the two to create a new hybrid that some call a whiper. The white bass is believed to have become landlocked eons ago, and diminished in size over the ages. It’s one of my favorite bass.
When taking a picture of buddies with a lunker bass, stand close enough to show just the two most important items – the catcher and the catch. This tells the story, and it eliminates overexposures that come with automatic cameras reading the brighter back lighting.
The most accurate cast for easing lures into small bass hangouts is an underhand cast. This is because your eyes follow the lure from rod tip to target. An overhead cast is less accurate because your eye only sees the lure after it is well on the way. Practice, practice at home!
Homer circle’s newest book is “Bass Wisdom,” containing know-how gleaned from over a half-century of obsession with bass fishing – including deadliest lures, seasonal tactics, fly-rodding, trolling, fishing secrets of the pros, bass intelligence and sounds and wiles that trigger strikes. For an autographed copy, send $19 to Homer Circle, 1900 S.W. 55th Lane, Ocala, FL 34474.