Tiny Baits, Big Bass

Tiny Baits, Big Bass

In spring, we always hook into a few largemouths while hunting for bull bluegills. They come shallow about the same time, they use the same kinds of habitat, they get active in the same situations, and they apparently forage on similar things. We catch some of our biggest bass of the year every spring on 4-pound lines attached to 1/80- to 1/32-ounce jigs. As you might imagine, it can be real carnival ride pulling them within reach.

The water was still cold—hovering near 50°F in the warmest spots last week—when Mary brought this one in. It inhaled a 1/64-ounce TC Tackle ball-head jig (406/683-5485) baited with a panfish leech. Happens a lot. And not just in spring. We can target and catch bass in the 5- and 6-pound range right through winter—under the ice—with tackle designed for bluegills.

Maybe it's because Leopomis macrochirus—the bluegill—and micropterus salmoides—the bass—are from the same family of fishes—centrarchidae. That family, which also includes the crappie, is composed of 30 species in 10 genera. They're generally called, simply, "the sunfishes," which came into being during the Miocene epoch (5 to 23 million years ago).

Maybe it's because bigger forage items take too long for bass to digest in cold water. The metabolism of the bass clan is decidedly different from that of the salmons and chars, which commonly seek larger prey in water temperatures descending below 40°.


Whatever the reason, we like it. Big bass on light tackle classifies as an extreme sport in my book. Our tackle has evolved to incorporate these bonus bruisers into the game plan—part of the reason we went to 4-pound Berkley FireLine on all our panfish rods. When lunkers bury themselves in the weeds, we can get them out without breaking lines. If you can move the rod tip toward you with that low-stretch braided line, you're moving the fish. Even with ultralight rods, like the 7-foot St. Croix Avids we're so fond of, FireLine rips through weeds and hauls big bass out.


The development of fluorocarbon line also allows us to both target and land the biggest bluegills and bass in the systems we fish. Where bluegills (which have excellent vision extending into the microscopic range) might balk at biting a tiny jig dangling on 6-pound mono, 8-pound flourocarbon doesn't seem to bother them. We've been using Toray Superhard, and even after landing behemoths that take us into the wood, we can't find a single nick on the line.

Other advantages to using FireLine with swivels and fluorocarbon leaders: No line twist and the line never breaks down. You can put a Rainbow Plastics A-Just-A-Bubble on the line and leave it there forever (even after the surgical tubing hardens inside the float). Mary can leave that slip float on her line until next year, too. We can put our rods away in spring and pull them out next fall—or a year later—and not worry about the line going bad. Not having to replace fishing line every few months (or every few weeks with some of these lines designed with planned obsolescence in mind) is a great boon to fishing kind.

Great when design, purpose, function, and utility all come together to save you time and money. Better when it all combines to bring fish like this into the boat for a quick photo. The way the weather looks (70°F today), that bass could be spawning as I write this.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

The Scoop on Garmin

The Scoop on Garmin's New Force Trolling Motors

Why did Garmin's new Force trolling motor win a Best of Show category award at the 2019 ICAST Show in Orlando? OSG's Lynn Burkhead gets all of the scoop on the amazing features that come with Garmin's first entry into the trolling motor market.

Travel Destinations on Ice

Travel Destinations on Ice

The In-Fisherman staff targets all fish during each and every season, with many of our favorite winter option are on the ice.

Spider Rig Crappies

Spider Rig Crappies

Doug Stange employs one of the most effective crappie systems ever.

Simms

Simms' Challenger Raingear

John Frazier of Simms Fishing Products details the warm and dry features found in the new Challenger raingear being brought to market by the Bozeman, Mont. company.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Pole lines illustrate the paradox of catfishing. At a time when excellent rods, reels, and other Catfish

Catfish Pole Rigs

Richard Peterson with In-Fisherman - April 28, 2016

Pole lines illustrate the paradox of catfishing. At a time when excellent rods, reels, and...


Spring is prime time for pike. The Prespawn and Postspawn periods offer excellent odds at catching Pike & Muskie

How To Catch Pike In Spring

Dan Johnson - April 26, 2016

Spring is prime time for pike. The Prespawn and Postspawn periods offer excellent odds at...

Everything you need to know about popular catfish species and how to catch them on proven riggings. Catfish

All About Catfish

Rob Neumann

Everything you need to know about popular catfish species and how to catch them on proven...

Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north or south, will help you pinpoint their predictable locations year after year. Walleye

Understanding Spring Walleye Migrations

Gord Pyzer - June 02, 2018

Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north...

See More Trending Articles

More Bass

Todd A. Kuhn says hook geometry makes a huge difference in this episode of Beyond the Bait Powered by Streamlight.

Hook Selection for Soft-Plastic Bass Lures

Game & Fish Digital Staff - March 17, 2020

Todd A. Kuhn says hook geometry makes a huge difference in this episode of Beyond the Bait...

Dr. Todd A. Kuhn discusses spinnerbaits from top to bottom in this episode of Beyond the Bait Powered by Streamlight.

Master the Spinnerbait to Catch More Bass

Game & Fish Digital Staff

Dr. Todd A. Kuhn discusses spinnerbaits from top to bottom in this episode of Beyond the Bait...

Most of the time, versatility pays the bills. Bass

Bass Tournament Trends Today

Steve Quinn

Most of the time, versatility pays the bills.

Crankbaits excel for covering water, bumping cover, and daring spring bass to bite. Bass

Shaping Up for Spring Crankbaits

Steve Quinn - May 18, 2020

Crankbaits excel for covering water, bumping cover, and daring spring bass to bite.

See More Bass

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now