August 1st 2010 Best Day On The Water So Far This Year

Best fishing day

"Make excuses to go fishing ... Don't make them to not go!" This is an old adage of mine that I try to live by ... but sometimes it's not easy. Take for instance August 1st 2010.  I had no immediate tournaments to fish, it was a long hot weekend, and it would likely be the busiest day of the summer out on Lake Simcoe. 

It kinda bugs me to put up with massive crowds - at the launch and on the water, and between you and me if our family had other plans for that day - I would have gladly tagged along ... Of course the whole time reminding them of the all the great fishing I could be having on the lake!


Wil WegmanAh, but you see on August 1st we had nothing going on and my sons and wife all had other plans - plans that didn't include dear old dad.  Boo hoo ... what to do - except of course suck it  up and go bass fishin'!  That I did and boy oh boy am I ever glad I did.

Largemouth fishing so far this year on my home lake hasn't been the greatest for me.   I thought the bigger bass would be heading to deep weedlines early because of the advanced and hot weather pattern ... but so far, not so much. This was also one of the 'excuses' I could have eased my mind with had I chosen to stay home and do chores. I got up early that morning to beat the crowds and vowed to be off the water early to maximize the fun factor and minimize the irritation factor.

I would boat straight to an area where I had caught five or six small bass the week prior. It was the first time I had ever hit this area 'first thing' - but I really didn't have anything else going that would play into my deep water cranking pattern that I desperately wanted the fish to be on that day.  On the Weather Network earlier that morning  ... I was chagrined to learn there would be little or no wind - a relative blessing on most days ... but truth be told those largies like a bit of a breeze to get them active enough to chase down a crank. Ah- but that's just an excuse ... and so too was the fact that when the wind would pick up it would be from the east. "Wind from the east, fish bite the least" ... those too are just excuses not to fish I told myself as I excitedly headed out the door.

I only needed to make three casts with my Rapala DT 16 crankbait before I connected with my first bass - a 1.5 lb largemouth that came from 14 feet.  I continued along the weedline and could tell from my Lowrance Unit that the weeds tapered out at 18 feet.  "Man they're already deep here" I said to myself. As I moved along the contour, fish were jumping all around me.  I could see balls of young fry scattered throughout the entire area. Man it all looked so good. I made cast after long cast and was picking up two pounders the whole time.

When I started to hit a an edge where the weeds weren't so heavy between the 14-18 foot range, I suddenly began to encounter bigger bass.   At first it was just a couple three's but then a four fell for my deep diver in 18'. "Hey . this is turning out to be a pretty decent day after-all" I said with a smile on my face.

Within an hour, I had a 'not so bad tournament limit' of 15 or 16 pounds.  Once a tournament angler always a tournament angler and I have never met one yet who does not keep track of his or her five biggest bass - even when fun fishing. I'm terrible at keeping track of exactly how many fish I've caught during the course of a day (others have no problems here) but ask me the weight of my five biggest and I'll give you a pretty honest recollection of the real thing.

Hitting 'The Zone'
Then suddenly I hit 'the zone.'  It was like I became one with the crank and it with me. As the big chartreuse beauty went thump, thump, thump along bottom, I knew bass down there would find it hard to resist. Thanks to my 14 lb Suffix Floro line and sensitive Rapala medium heavy baitcasting rod, I knew exactly when there was a weed on the end of my bait, when it was working its way thru a patch of them - or when a bass had inhaled the bait.

The great feature about these deep diving cranks is that the extra long bill deflects far more weeds than anglers think. Secondly is the unique way they run thru the water - bill down and body protecting those two sets of trebles from weeds. Lastly- because they are buoyant and want to float to the top when not being reeled in - an angler in the zone and with the right equipment can know just when to stop reeling for a second or two to allow his crank to rise up out of harm's way from those weeds. Bass often hit it right then and there.

Best Day

In order for the DT 16 to reach the desired depths . ie near bottom, super long casts have to be made.  This also allows you to cover more water and effectively dissect every square inch of an area. I do this by not only fan casting in front of me but also turning around every once in awhile to recast to a little point within the weedline or that small hole I just went over. Perhaps it was a fish I marked on the Lowrance or even one that just jumped behind me.  Regardless, it can be very worthwhile to recast to anything different because it has great potential to hold a bass. The angle and direction that the crankbait is presented can be critical and very paternable, so pay attention to trends that develop.

The Angle Can Make All The Difference:
Oftentimes I have fished with others who pick up a crank after they see me catch a few with one but they just can't seem to get bit.  One common theme I notice is that they are not really aware of the angle or direction they are presenting their bait, to the fish. You can make cast after cast the same way without getting bit, but oftentimes as soon as you move to offer a 'different' angle or alter the direction the bait swims; a bass miraculously appears at the end of your hooks.

Anyway . as I was saying . that feeling of being completely in the zone - unfortunately doesn't happen enough for this wanna-be consistently great angler. Professionals like Kevin VanDam on the other hand experience the exact opposite.

At the end of July 2010, this Kalamazoo, Mich., veteran won the Bassmaster Elite Post Season event on the Alabama River, scoring his sixth (and third consecutive) Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.  VanDam who has been the sport's top pro for two decades netted $200,000 to push his career earnings to more than $4.5 million, by far the most in BASS' 40-year plus history. "I have a lot of confidence that the next spot or that next cast is going to be the one," he said after the tournament - which he won throwing crankbaits.

Best Day

                   Wil has great confidence in the above fire tiger colored Rapala DT 16 like the one that fooled this bass
My in-the-zone-morning on August 1st therefore was one I treasure and the reason I fish as often as I do.  For me, it's a high that is about as great as they come while here on earth and see's me thru many long hours on the water when I'm struggling to get bit. I'm always ready to capitalize on factors that might 'put me in the zone' . I just wish it would happen a little more often!

Wack . the big largemouth hit my DT 16 solid and I knew it was bigger than the rest right away.  After I landed her, I quickly deposited the gorgeous creature in my livewell temporarily and made another cast from the back of the boat.  This time it was just a 'three' - but the cast after that was a four and so too the one after that.  "Four casts, four BIG bass . not bad considering that these bass were not even following each other in yet." (This will typically happen in a few weeks when they become tightly grouped and their competitive nature goes into overdrive.)

Around noon- after perhaps 20 lbs, I was still fishing the same 200 meter stretch of water and had not started the main engine once in over five hours. The mid-day heat was becoming intense and the lake was getting busier by the minute.  I switched over to a weedless drop shot rig - using a Finesse Wide Gap Weedless Gamakatsu 1/0 hook, 1/16th oz drop shot sinker and a 5 inch Trigger X Flutter Worm.  I moved out a little deeper - keeping my boat in about 20-21 feet and casting to the 18' edge where the weeds began. 

This mid-day pattern paid off in spades as another six or seven big bass were pulled in.   The biggest was a 5.2 pounder - a tad smaller than the 5.8 that came from the crank. My total weight for my five biggest bass (most of which were weighed on my Rapala Boca Grip digital scale) was between 22 and 24 pounds.

Trigger X Flutter Wor

The above Trigger X Flutter Worm is usually used on it's own without weight but in deeper water I like to rig them drop shot style to catch bass like the one below

Trigger X Flutter Wor

Kayak Fishing

While I was reeling in one of those bass a kayaker came over who had his boat rigged for fishing first and foremost. "Hey that's the same paddle my son has for his kayak," I said to break the ice. He was dragging a Rapala original minnow behind his craft without success so he asked what I was doing.  We struck up a friendly conversation and before I knew it, I was rigging a drop shot onto "Heinz's' rig identical to what I had on.  I don't know who had a greater thrill - me or him when on his first cast he caught a nice two pounder that he gently released afterwards. "That sure didn't take you long to get the hang of it," I laughed!  It was the perfect ending to a perfect day and one that could just have easily been missed. 

Missed opportunities are worse than missed fish! If you ever catch yourself making excuses about whether to hit the water or not - remember those times you were 'in the zone'. Then run- don't walk to get your fishing tackle and head out the door! The memories created are almost always worth it.

Trigger X Flutter Wor

Heinz with a nice largemouth caught drop shotting from his kayak



Three Other Facors To Wil's Success on August 1st

  1. Coontail vs Eelgrass: When predominantly coontail weeds would give way to mostly eelgrass- the good bass action would cease.  It was important to have a little eel grass mixed in with the beautiful lush green, crisp coontail - but as soon as you were bringing in mostly eelgrass it was time to turn back towards the coontail.
  2. Pumpkinseed were dominant in this area:  Throughout Simcoe perch numbers far exceed sunfish so there is no question bass feed on them.  However, when you are fortunate enough to catch a couple of big sunny's don't be surprised if the largemouth are not far off.  My view is they like these short broad fish better than perch - and when they're feeding on sunny's- crankbaits excel!
  3. What works here- can work over there: By duplicating the patterns found at the first location - I was able to catch fish elsewhere on the lake as well.  

Wil Wegman