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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
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    March is the month for big bass

    Frankfort, Ky. – Several decades ago, March brought out crusty, tough men who impaled several night crawlers on a large hook and dropped the bait around any stump, tree top, log or surface debris along the shoreline of a lake or pond for big bass. These anglers used a scull paddle to move their wooden boats quietly around the water, and fished stout cane poles with heavy black nylon line to haul their catch away from the cover. This fishing technique became known as jigging.

    Although Herrington Lake receives credit as the birthplace of jigging, anglers discovered the same technique also worked well in other lakes for enormous female largemouth bass.

    “They would drop the night crawlers right in front of the bass and haul them out of that cover,” said “Kentucky Afield” television Host Tim Farmer. “I was once a creel clerk on Elmer Davis Lake in Owen County and I would see some really big bass come from there at this time of year by jigging.”

    While most anglers nowadays have switched to artificial lures and modern baitcasting rods, the basic technique still works at this time of year because the big female largemouth bass need to eat.

    “They are spawning next month and feeding up to put nutrients in them they’ll need for spawning,” said Gerry Buynak, assistant director of fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The best way to do that is to get up in the warm shallow water and feed as much as they can. This is the final push to get ready for the spawn.”

    In early March, eggs make up about 5 percent of the body weight of a female largemouth bass. By mid-April, eggs account for 15 percent of body weight.

    “If you want to catch a wallhanger, now is the time to do it,” explained Buynak, who served as black bass research biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife for 18 years. “Those large 6-pound or bigger female largemouth bass spawn first. They are more vulnerable to anglers than any other time of year, especially anglers fishing from the bank.”

    Jigging works best after rainfall colors the water. The murky water conceals anglers, allowing them to slip up on a trophy bass nosing the bank. Farmer shot a segment for “Kentucky Afield” using this technique a couple of years ago. Although our fishing ancestors used night crawlers for jigging, Farmer used a brown jig with a pumpkinseed-colored trailer.

    “It was a watershed lake in western Kentucky,” Farmer explained. “There was some color to the water and they were right on the bank. I jerked a big one out of some cover and she rolled on her side. She was huge, in the 8-pound class. I broke the line on that one, but we caught several between 5 and 6 pounds that day.”

    Although anglers flock to Lake Barkley, Kentucky Lake, Lake Malone, Cedar Creek Lake and Elmer Davis Lake for big bass, Dewey Lake at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park near Prestonsburg is worth a try for anglers in the eastern part of the state. Dewey Lake has an increasing number of quality bass in its waters. Anglers can catch bass there at this time of year by jigging pockets in the weeds.

    “I think most lakes in Kentucky would do well with this technique,” Buynak said. “One of our old creel clerks on Barkley Lake always said if you want to catch a 10-pound bass in Kentucky, fish in March.”

    Modern jigging anglers use medium-heavy to heavy baitcasting rods and flip jig-and-pig combinations next to stumps, logs or rocks. They work the jig up and down a few times and then cast to another piece of cover, making sure the jig enters the water as quietly as possible. Trophy largemouth bass in shallow water along shore spook easily.

    When possible, cast the jig on the bank and silently pull the lure into the water when fishing from a boat or the shore. This doesn’t spook bass nearly as bad as a jig-and-pig loudly smacking the water in a foot of water. Any bass close by will flee to deep water when this happens.

    Bank anglers walking along the bank of a lake or a farm pond may see V-shaped wakes moving quickly out into deep water. These are likely bass spooked by the vibrations coming from your feet hitting the ground. Walk parallel to the shore a good ways away from the edge of the water when bank fishing to avoid scaring away fish. Move in a straight line to the bank to cast.

    Get out now and probe shallow cover for the biggest bass of the year. To find waters close to home that hold largemouth bass, log on to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s homepage at fw.ky.gov and click on the “Fishing and Boating” tab, then click “Where to Fish” followed by “Find a Place to Fish.”

    Author Lee McClellan is an award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass fishing.

    KY Fish & Wildlife

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    mt. washington, kentucky.
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    697
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    Re: March is the month for big bass

    Good information, and nice read!

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