They, whoever they may be, say that patience is a virtue. Also said by say-ers of sayings, is that fishermen must be the most patient of all people (and by extension, the most virtuous). Most of the people who make the aforementioned statement are not fishermen and are unrepentant in their impatience. They can’t imagine sitting, rod in hand, waiting in anticipation for a fish to bobble their bobber or twitch the tip of their rod. The very idea of waking before the birds, standing in the rain or heaven forbid, venturing out onto the frozen wasteland of an ice covered lake in the dead of winter just to catch a fish, is ridiculous to them.
I, as a fisherman for most of my life, am honor bound to set the record straight. While fishermen, and I would be remiss not to include hunters, can summon the strength of will to spend hours watching and waiting for something to happen, it would be more accurate to say we do this out of grim determination and for some of us, desperation, to justify the time and effort spent on the water or in the woods. Patience quickly runs out and we are sustained by the exquisite torture of believing that what we want to happen will happen if we just wait a little longer. I will admit to all of you that I have been that guy way too many times and will be many more. If I’m shunned by my fellow outdoorsmen for hanging our dirty laundry out for public view, so be it. For those who admit the shoe fits, take heart in the knowledge that your wait will soon be over.
The day that anglers across the state are waiting for is tomorrow, June 20th, the opening day of Bass season statewide. Recreational as well as tournament fishermen will swarm the waters in pursuit of cooperative Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass. The fishing is generally excellent early in the season because the bass are just coming off the spawn and are ravenous as they try to regain what they lost in their procreative efforts. Also, the weeds have not yet reached their full growth making it easier for them to find food and easier for us to fool them with our clever tricks. According to the reports I’ve been getting from fishermen fresh off the lake, you don’t even have to be that clever to catch a limit of bass. In the last few days, excited anglers have come into my shop showing me pictures they took of fish they caught and told me in great detail just how they caught them. While the details differed, the point was the same. They all experienced some of the best fishing they ever had and couldn’t wait to get back out on the water. Plastic worms, spinner baits, crank baits or swim baits, it didn’t seem to matter what they threw as long as they threw something in the water. A bite like this won’t last forever so try to go fishing sometime soon. Rising water temperatures and thickening weeds will bring this fishing honeymoon to an end within a few weeks.
Mornings and evenings will find schools of bass chasing schools of bait causing the latter to launch from the water in their frantic attempt to escape becoming the main course. Try throwing top water baits like poppers, buzz baits to catch the chasers. One of my favorite lures to use at these times is the Heddon Zara Spook. “Why?” you ask. “Because it draws big fish” I reply. If the weeds are a little too thick for those lures, try twitching soft plastic jerk baits like Zoom Super Flukes or Senkos. Rig them weedless with an offset worm hook and no weight. Give them a sharp jerk and then pause, they will dart from side to side like an injured minnow and make an easy target for a hungry bass.
As the day goes on, the bass will start retreating to deeper water and weeds. You can cover a lot of water using crank baits, swim baits and chatter baits to find hungry fish. You might think crank baits and weeds don’t mix well but if you choose carefully, you can catch a lot of fish and leave most of the weeds where they belong. Swim baits are plastic worms with tail that kicks side to side when you retrieve them. They’re simple to use and catch bass as well as live bait. Chatter baits are jigs with a blade attached to the head. The blade causes the jig to shake violently when reeled in. The shaking rings the dinner bell for every bass in the weed bed. Use swim bait as a trailer on your chatter bait and you’ve got a winning combination tied on the end of your line.
If the bite gets tough you can dredge the bass out of the weeds with a Texas rigged plastic worm or a “jig and pig”. The trick to fishing a plastic worm or jig is to fish slowly. If you think you are fishing slowly, slow down a little more. You also need to pay close attention to the line when using these lures because you will often see the line move before you feel the strike. I don’t think you will need to fish this way this early in the season but its good practice for the way you will need to fish later in the summer.
I could go on recommending ways to fish forever but you’ll have more fun fishing than reading about it. The wait is finally over so get on the water and try your luck, you’re patience is about to be rewarded. As another saying goes, “All good things come to those who wait”.
Tim Blodgett, owner of Saratoga Tackle & Archery, can be reached at (518) 584-3952. His store is located on Route 9P, Saratoga Lake next to the state boat launch. For further information, visit Saratogatackle.com or find Saratoga Tackle on Facebook.