When the going gets tough

2009-08-01 00:00

WELCOME again, Bassers. This week we are going to focus on what to do when the going gets tough. This is exactly what the anglers had to deal with last weekend at Inanda Dam while competing in the seventh Bass Equaliser Tournament Trail event of the season. Right on cue, an aggressive cold front had hit the day before. We were facing clear skies, freezing temperatures and tormenting winds. Water temperatures had dropped even further, and to add to the adversity, water levels had dropped dramatically. All these negative factors attributed to extremely tough fishing conditions!

Pre-fishing tactics were taken into account by Team Garmin Ruff Thumb — Garth and myself — and we spent the first few hours of our day fishing the spots that were supposed to work for us. We targeted the shallows and points that had held baitfish the week before, and we were found wanting with only four average-sized fish to show for it.

We decided to slow down and target some deeper rocky areas and centered our approach on the understanding that when water temperatures are dropping, the rocky areas tend to hold more heat than the surrounding cover, and therefore provide a comfort zone for the bass. This theory really proved its validity when the top teams discussed their tactics after the tournament. Once we had adjusted our approach, Garth and I turned our day around. Garth landed a fish of over two kilograms on a Picasso Football Jig on a submerged rock pile to fill out our five fish limit at around 11 am.

We then moved even deeper and meticulously slow- rolled Picasso spinner baits off a rocky channel ledge in seven metres of water to cull our four smallest fish. This secured a fourth-place finish for us with a bag weight of 6,95 kg. The tournament winners, Team Anytime Holidays, consisting of Ettienne le Roux and Chris du Plessis, also walked off with the largest bass of the tournament. It weighed 3,9 kg and was taken on a Football Jig fished over what they described as “deep boulders”. They complemented this giant with a solid bag weight, which totalled 9,23 kg. This was their first career win. Well done, guys!

Second placed were Team Evinrude Rapala, skippered by Carl Gutzeit and crewed by Grant Lindeque. They weighed in with a hefty sack of 8,55 kg. Once again, the cold water rock tactics secured this great bag of fish, and to further strengthen the pattern, they caught most of their fish on — yes, you guessed it — Football Jigs. Five-inch Senkos helped them fill their limit, but the common denominator of submerged rocky outcrops made their strategy hard to ignore. The fact that rocky areas hold slightly higher water temperatures than the other areas in the lake is an understanding that should not be overlooked. This minor change in water temperature can sometimes make a major difference in finding active fish. Successful anglers use baits that offer an easy but substantial meal. When the water is cooler and a bass’s metabolism has slowed, it does not want to chase prey all over the lake and eat every five minutes. Bass are looking for a meal that will satisfy their needs with the least amount of effort. A slow moving, enticingly presented Football Jig or Creature bait is the way to go here. Mix this up with a drop-shot approach or even a slow- rolled spinner bait and you will definitely entice these cold-water fish to bite, even when they don’t want to.

Bear this is mind next time you are out on the lake during a cold front or in winter and put this strategy to the test.

Remember to release your catch alive to prolong the sustainability of our resource.

E-mail bass fishing reports, pictures and questions to me at zorthewitt@hotmail.com.

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