AN OVERLOOKED RESOURCE
“I am too old to even stay up all night must less stay in tune with a plastic worm crawling across the bottom in twenty feet of water,” said Johnny Hughes.A pipefitter by trade, he fished in Bass Clubs for years and was always the guy you knew you would have to beat before you ever left the landing!
“Now that we live on the lake, I am not nearly as mad at those ol’ bass as I once was,” stated Hughes.“As a matter of fact, I now spend more time crappie fishing than chasing bass.They are better to eat and you don’t have to fish nearly as hard.”
Our conversation started out while unexpectedly visiting between gas pumps, but eventually made its way to his camp and a pot of coffee.I had fished with an old friend the night before and was not looking forward to the drive back home.We caught only three bass, but called it quits around 1:00 a.m.
“Y’all couldn’t have picked a better night so you obviously fished in the wrong places,” pointed out Hughes and his tone of voice indicated that he wasn’t just teasing.“What did y’all do…….run around looking for grass all night?My reply was a short, “Yep”.
“That all changed for us about two years ago when we started losing all of that hydrilla,” said Hughes.“Not many of us old night fishermen are still around so we had to figure out everything on our own.The solution was that being old night fishermen had its advantages.”
“You’ve got to remember,” added Hughes, “Bass Club fishing was responsible for the night fishing craze.The pros and guides had no reason to fish at night.We shared information chasing those plastic trophies and picked up real quick on anything new.”
“We initially hated hydrilla when it started covering up our flats and key structure.You obviously forgot a lot about T-Bend when you decided to start chasing those slimy saltwater fish for a living.You were still guiding this side of the lake back in the day when Glenn Cosey showed us how to fish that grass with the maribou jig and worm, Tom Mann came out with his grub and the Hales came up with the craw worm.”
“I was suddenly feeling not only even sleepier, but older as well.” The best change since you lost your mind,” said Hughes, “has been the size of our bass.Do you ever remember leaving the dock thinking that you might possibly catch an eight pound bass?I have two grandsons that are yet to turn sixteen and both of them have already caught a bass over ten pounds!”
“Because I know you’re too lazy to drive up here and night fish more than one or twice a year and night fishing will never catch on again……I am going to brag a little and tell you what is going on. Until the grass returns, and it will, we have got it figured out.”
“All that deep structure that Larry and I used to see you camped out on all night long is good again.Most of the wood that was wedged into those tiny points and ditches is history, but the structure itself hasn’t changed.All you have to do is figure out if they want your bait fished shallow to deep or vice versa.”
Hughes also said they seldom fish anything other than the longer worms.“They are a little easier to feel and I think they are easier for the fish to find. My buddies fish with fluorocarbon line, but I fish only braid.It is more sensitive, my hook sets are better and I get unhung more often.You don’t just break them off when you are fishing on a fixed income.”
Aside from the fact that the bass are once again hunting their midnight snacks on deep structure, I was even more focused on one additional finding.“If we anchor up and don’t catch fish pretty quickly, we will move to another spot,” says Hughes.“When there was grass the bass would travel along that break throughout the night, but with no grass, we can catch only three or four and it’s time to move.”
“If we don’t catch a bass on our first two or three stops, we go back to the house, eat ice cream and watch SportsCenter. Retirement has its perks and there is always tomorrow night!”
With a lot of summer nights remaining, you might consider taking your topo maps to grandpa’s house or even inviting him to show you some of his old honey holes.A bowl of ice cream is a good place to start.