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Joslin: Heavy bass challenges light line

Last Modified: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 10:10 AM

By Joe Joslin / American Press

Hello, anglers.

Here’s a memo from my guide business notebook: This past week was the best of times and the worst of times. The worst was that I was sick (severe cold and congestion) from Monday through Saturday, and when you are the guide and you have clients who come all the way from California to fish for four days, well … you drag yourself out of bed and go to work so that’s what we did.

“Now the good part was that the fish were cooperative and we had a great time showing them how great the fishing could be on awesome Toledo Bend. We were even fortunate enough to catch our 11th double-digit bass, a 10.1-pounder, early in the week.

A full play-by-play is in the “Bass” report section of the column. It is good to be feeling better this week.

Lake conditions

The lake level early this week was 169.4 feet with both generators shut down.

Water temperatures are running from 61 degrees on the main lake to 63-65 in protected coves and creeks.

Water clarity is good all over the lake with stained conditions on the northern part of the lake with slightly stained at midlake and clear-to-very clear conditions south to the dam.

There are thousands of Coots (small black ducks) on the south end feeding on the massive amounts of submerged hydrilla (dense submerged grass).

These ducks dive down and eat the new tender grass sprouts and, if they have been in an area for a while, they will pull up so much hydrilla that it will cover the lake surface making it almost impossible to fish in that area, especially with anything but a soft plastic. Some of the grass lines run across boat lanes so there are large groups of Coots in the boat lanes, but I would be cautious running your boat through them unless you want a huge glob of Coot poop in your face.

Experience speaking here … Coot poop is bad. Duck power!

Fishing reports

BASS: We caught bass on several patterns last week, but 90 percent of them came in less than 12 feet of water with 6- to 8-foot depths the most productive.

On days behind cold fronts we had the best results fishing not as shallow with areas close to deep water. Deep points that also had shallow areas proved good choices, especially if they had scattered submerged grass.

We also liked humps and ridges and shallow humps were especially productive during early mornings and cloudy conditions. We did work a few deep humps (15-25 feet) last week but fewer than the week before and caught some fish, but most of the action was in shallow areas.

On the “what to fish with” and “how to fish it” section, let’s start with an explanation of how we caught the 10.1-pounder mentioned at the beginning of the report. This was the first double-digit bass that I have caught on 8-pound test line, which was a huge confidence builder on using this line. In the past I had caught five largemouth weighing more than 10 pounds, including an 11.5, using 10-pound test, but to get that big bass in the boat this week on 8-pound test was a big deal to me personally.

I was using 8-pound test Berkley 100 percent trilene fluorocarbon line, a 7-foot medium-action Fenwick HMX spinning rod with a Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning reel. My hook was a 3/0 Daiichi Round Bend high carbon hook and my bait was a wacky-rigged 5-inch Senko in baby bass color.

I cast the bait into about 6-8 feet of water on a secondary point in the Texas Islands area of south Toledo and the bait never reached the bottom. When I took up a little slack the bass was swimming toward deep water with the bait so I set the hook with a long, solid upward sweeping motion and the fight was on.

The manner in which the bass was swimming with the bait I suspected a big fish. I did not move the fish when I set the hook so I knew it was a heavy fish and started to manually pull line from my reel when the bass made the first hard run to try to minimize the pressure the fish was putting on my light line. We finally got the bass turned on the first run, which is a major step in landing a big fish on light line.

Through the years while landing big fish on light line, I have found it often necessary to manually pull line from the reel as the fish is making a strong run. Yes, I also have the drag set properly, which is very important, but there are times when you need to render your rig some additional relief. Our bass last week surfaced four times, went completely around the boat and we landed her on the opposite side of the boat from where she bit. A reminder on landing big bass with light line is to not rush the fish. If the bass is still green (lots of fight left) and you get her too close to the boat, your chances of losing her greatly increase. In my experience, the first few seconds after hook-up, plus the moment just before you net the trophy, are the two times most likely for a heartbreak.

Also, be optimistic and stay ready for a big bite and have your tools (rod, reel, hook, line) fine tuned. If you think “Man, I’ll never catch a huge bass,” than you more than likely will not catch one, or if one hits you won’t be ready.

One final reminder is to use a Palomar knot with light line and re-tie often as often as every other fish. In addition to wacky rigging Senkos, we are also wacky rigging Berkley Havoc Bottom Hoppers using a Hook Angel as well as small nail for a little weight.

Also, we are Texas rigging (weightless) Berkley Havoc Grass Pigs (swimbait), Jerk Shads, Senkos and Flukes. In addition, we are Texas rigging Bottom Hoppers and Trick Worms with light weights from 1/8 to 1/4 ounce, depending on wind conditions. Topwater baits are coming on strong with Normans Pro Pop as well as Stanley’s new Ribbit Top Toad catching some huge bass.

CRAPPIE: The white perch continue to move into shallow water and anglers are catching them in 4-8 feet on shiners and jigs as well as Road Runners. In addition, more and more anglers are strolling (slow trolling with trolling motor) on the outside edge of grass lines and backs of coves with increasing success.

• • •

Joe Joslin is a syndicated outdoor columnist, tournament angler and pro guide on Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn. His column appears Thursdays. Contact him at 463-3848 or or visit

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