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Springtime is Basstime

Gary Heffley author photo, myoutdoorbuddy.com

By Gary Heffley
02/18/16 -- The seemingly annual 10 day run of warm weather around the middle of February has past and rain is back on the horizon. One look outside, unless your allergies have already alerted you, you know spring is not far away. Fruit trees, and more importantly, some of the dogwoods around Lake Shasta are beginning to bloom. Call me superstitious, but blooming dogwoods and the bass angling improving go hand in hand, not that old wives tales or superstitions were ever taken seriously by any fishermen. Where is my favorite hat?

But, yes bass catching is on the horizon as bass are entering pre-spawn and spawn modes depending upon the body of water, lake elevation and water temperature. Days are getting longer with Daylight Savings Time less than a month away ( March 13). Getting excited yet?

For some bass anglers the desire to catch enough for a fish taco dinner will have them utilizing live bait, jigs, drop shots and other plastic presentations. Wacky style, shaky head, dart head and Texas rig techniques will all be incorporated in hopes of a nice fish fry. Others, practitioners of catch and release will also hone their skills on these various techniques.

Then there are those who will be looking for that one bass, an old fashion wall hanger. Luckily, most trophy hunters now utilize replica mounts by taking pictures and taking quick measurements of their bass prior to releasing them to fight another day and provide the reproductive gene pool for future bass generations to come. In fact, in most cases many find replica mounts are far superior to the old skin mounts.

These anglers will often utilize big swimbaits and Alabama-rig style multi-bait presentations to target large bass. Large spotted, smallmouth and largemouth are all drawn to these large meal presentations.

In Clear Lake, Berryessa, and the Delta, where largemouth are prevalent, big bass can be spotted on spawning beds and many anglers may target these beds with large tubes, lizards and swimbaits. Some question the ethics of bed fishing during tournaments where the fish are removed from the area for weigh-in, but catching, recording by photo measurement, then releasing the fish immediately back to the bed should have very little long lasting impact.

Improved water levels should make Trinity and Almanor prime for excellent spring time smallmouth fishing this year. While there is a potential for a record smallie at any time at Trinity the largemouth population also holds some large fish and should not be overlooked. I have a nephew that can lament about the one that got away. But as both lakes sit at higher elevations, prime spring fishing can be a May or early June target..

Spotted bass should take off on Berryessa, Collins, Shasta, and Oroville, along with other foothill lakes. Bullard's Bar, which has already kicked out certified and non-certified world record spotted bass this winter, is definitely a lake to watch out for. Improved fishing is already being seen on many of these waters.

This next month should be prime for targeting big bass at Clear Lake where tournament anglers may often miss a payday if under a 5lb per bass average for their efforts during a spate of big largemouths.

The California Delta is a wild card where big bass angling can be affected by tides, run-off from rain, and snow melt, both in volume and water clarity. Fog and wind can also provide challenges for bass anglers but hit the Delta conditions right and some of the biggest bass ever are available to anglers. Lipless cranks, jigs and top water frog presentations all produce big delta largemouth and let's not forget the popular flippin technique is often credited as perfected by the Delta's Dee Thomas. Heavy braided line, heavy jigs and tight drags are needed to flip the tule lines in the delta to get the bass into the boat. This is a completely different style of bass angling from the light line finesse drop shot rigs practiced on the foothill lakes.

With Basstime 2016 on the horizon, have your gear ready. Fresh line on the reels, reels oiled, and tackle sorted and organized. And remember let the big ones go, they provide the next batch of bass plus the smaller ones taste better anyway.

Gary Heffley has been a valued contributor to MyOutdoorBuddy for over seven years serving as manager, sales representative and reporter for much of Northern California. He is an avid outdoorsman and loves to fish and write about his adventures. He has long history in the Sporting Goods field and is presently managing the Gift Bar and Camping Department at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Redding.


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