LOW WATER AND BIG BASS
In the midst of catching redfish like we knew what we were doing just prior to this latest front, Doug Patterson posed a question for which I had no answer.“Why do you think the bass are hanging around right in the middle of all of these redfish and competing for the same meal,” he asked.“You’d think that they might feel like they are in danger of being part of that meal as well!” The size of the average bass running the river and bayous is very substantial, but while we also catch and release a few in the eight to ten inch class every trip, I have yet to clean the first redfish with a small bass in its stomach.They have been beating up on small bream lately, but for the most part their diet has consisted of mullet and small crabs. The fact that bass and redfish will attack the same lures has been common knowledge for years.Both species will readily eat everything from a crankbait to a plastic worm and it is not uncommon to catch a bass on one cast and a redfish on the next! For years, well before the bass fishery improved to the level that we are now enjoying, local anglers relied on basically two lures to catch their redfish and bass.They either lived with a single spin spinner bait or a quarter ounce Rat-L-Trap and color wasn’t a big deal as long as the Trap was chrome and the spinnerbait was chartreuse or white. The plastic worm was equally effective as well as a more diverse choice, but because it fished much slower, it was usually relegated to saving a tough outing.Because so many more skilled bass fishermen are now targeting the river virtually every day…… jigs, crankbaits and Swim baits have been added to the arsenal as well. When the striper population had a brief resurgence, the home grown Hoginar ruled the river.Those in the know spent the majority of their day vertical fishing deep points for a mixture of reds, stripers and bass, but the striper population took a hit following Ike and I see fewer of those same fishermen using that lure today. On the other hand, I also see far more high performance bass boats attempting to straighten out the winding bends in the bayous at a high rate of speed every day.As recent as two years ago, outside of the crabbers, you would see only a handful of folks in aluminum boats or small center consoles fishing these same bayous.Most of them would anchor on the shoreline and bottom fish with live or frozen bait. That is no longer the case.Between tower boats racing to reach their favorite backwater lakes and bass boats hoping to be the first one to stake out a drain, it can be more akin to Interstate 10 than Park Avenue.Not surprisingly, its those same folks parked along the side of the bayous that are in more danger than those behind the steering wheel. Only last week I debated as whether or not to pull a bass boat out of the grass that had badly underestimated his rate of speed and was firmly stuck.Before judging my reluctance to help them out, please examine all of the facts.First, and most importantly, they would have to get wet and muddy, but they could get out of their boat and push it into deeper water.They were not stranded. At that point I was thinking that may be a fitting punishment for so carelessly operating their boat.Secondly, it was the third time that morning that they had roared past us barely negotiating that same bend in the bayou. We did, in fact, begrudgingly pull them out only to watch them race off further up the bayou. Because I sample it most days and know that the lion’s share of the rumors are true, I am a firm believer that not only are more folks catching far more bass, but far larger bass as well.Last week I saw two fish over the seven pound mark and Trey Smith said there was a nine pound eight ounce bass weighed in as well. The extremely low water has finally forced many of these larger bass out of their marsh ponds and they are holding up closer to the nearest deep water.I am pleased that the state lowered the minimum size so that more folks could keep bass to eat, but there is no valid reason for keeping those fish over four or five pounds. Those bass obviously possess the genes to guarantee the future of double digit bass right here at home!