Lake Fork’s average schooling bass is 6 pounds, Lake Okeechobee’s bass are born 4 pounds, California Delta has bass that can’t stand a frog within twenty feet of the shore, and Clear Lake, well you better have 5 fish for 35 pounds or don’t come to the scales. These are all lakes that we hear and read about as phenomenal bass fishing havens. Leaving thoughts of, “If I could fish there, just one time, I’d catch a bass of a life time!” More often than not these dreams are shattered after a perfectly planned vacation that comes up short of our preconceived notions developed from all that we were told.
I know that sounds rather negative, but it’s true for the most part. Catching these lakes during the best part of the season is nearly impossible unless you can spend 4 or 5 weeks in the area. This would allow enough variance in your schedule to satisfy the finicky schedules of the Large or Smallmouth bass that you are hunting. It’s easy to say that January is the pre spawn for Okeechobee, or that in March bass will be on beds in Clear Lake. However, that’s a fairly large window to try and schedule a weekend fishing trip in and get it correct.
Let’s say you do hit everything right. What are the odds that a weather front is or isn’t going to blow through the area. High water, low water, muddy water, the list of possible factors that can change the habits of a bass are endless. There are thousands of variables that can add up to the trip of a life time or a few days of casting.
The point I’m trying to get to here is that while keeping confidence high, we need to lower our expectations of trophies and enjoy the fact that we are fishing a given body of water. Do as much preparation as you can, and plan your trip at the best possible time. Research patterns, baits, and lake composition. This will help you determine the correct equipment to bring. Gather topographical maps along with a street map of the local area you will be staying, This will help you navigate the water along with the community when it’s time to take a break for lunch.
With confidence and high hopes, you can definitely improve your odds of catching that bass of a lifetime; however nothing is a guarantee. When visiting places like this, I like to ensure I enjoy my time more than anything else. If the bass cooperate and you’re catching them hand over fist, then that is phenomenal and enjoy the moment that only comes around a very few times in a lifetime. However, if the bass are a little emotional during your visit, well don’t hesitate to take in the sites and see what that given body of water has to offer.
An example would be the California Delta it has miles and miles upon those miles of shoreline to fish. It’s one canal that connects to another canal that connects to three more canals. Looking at a map, it’s time to throw a dart trying to determine where to start. Finding and staying on big bass is not as easy for a non local angler that doesn’t already have years of experience driving these canals. So give it your best shot, you might figure it out, you might not. But, there are several things I find cool about the California Delta. First, you can take a right hand turn at every intersection and still get lost, thankfully GPS was invented. Second, if you head toward the San Francisco Bay you’ll start seeing sea lions; something bass fisherman don’t get to see often. My point is that if the bass are not biting, there are always several things that can make the trip worth your while. Okeechobee, you can go alligator chasing. Lake Fork has more wildlife around it than many lakes I’ve been too.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have fished many lakes across the country, and unfortunate to say, I’ve only timed a few of them perfectly. That said, I have always found a way to enjoy my time on the water! Whether you are fishing around the corner or around the world, remember it’s not always about the trophy.
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