- Special Sections
- Public Notices
By Lee McClellan
Ky. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources
It's the mouth that gets you.
You hook a huge largemouth bass and all you can see is a giant, angry shaking mouth.
The size of the mouth lets you know this bass is one of the top ones you've ever hooked. You realize the giant, gaping shaking bucket with your lure impaled in it is the biggest you've seen. This can cause dry mouth, uncontrollable shaking and panic.
One of my best friends hooked his biggest largemouth bass many years ago while fishing from the bank of a small pond in spring. When the 23-inch bass jumped and showed his outsized mouth, my buddy took off running in a blind panic. He pulled that bass over some brush and up on the bank like the fish was tethered to a jet taking off. After I grabbed the fish for him and offered congratulations, he stood there with an impish grin on his face, shaking and in mild shock.
This is the best time of the year for you to have one of those experiences that hooks you to bass fishing for the rest of your life. Trophy largemouth bass are on the prowl now.
"They are actively feeding now to get ready for the spawn," said Gerry Buynak, assistant director of fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "They need metabolic energy for egg development and for the rigors of spawning."
Female bass make up a large proportion of trophy largemouth bass. Prior to spawning in March and into April in a typical year, the female bass weigh considerably more than at any other time of year.
"A normal 6-pound female largemouth bass would weigh 7½ pounds just prior to spawning," said Jeff Ross, assistant director of fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "The eggs make up about 25 percent of their weight during pre-spawn and the eggs are at their densest just prior to the spawn. If you are after a trophy largemouth bass, right now is the best time to try."
Buynak, who once served as black bass biologist as did Ross after him, said largemouth bass should be nudging their way to backs of creeks and coves in reservoirs.
"Judging by my fruit trees, we are at least three weeks early this year from the unusually warm spring," he said.
Try large baits in these shallow areas. "You need to use big baits right now because all of the forage is big," Ross explained. "They also want their greatest nutrient boost for the effort and you get that with larger forage."
Spinnerbaits, jig and trailer combinations and shad imitating swimbaits all work well right now for largemouth bass. A recent club tournament on Lake Kincaid produced seven largemouth bass over 18 inches long with the biggest fish weighing nearly six pounds. A black and blue jig and trailer or a black/blue chatterbait fooled all of these fish.
You may want to plan a trip to Lake Beshear near Dawson Springs for largemouth bass soon. Bass tournament catch data compiled by black bass research biologist Chris Hickey shows it takes the least amount of fishing hours to catch a largemouth bass over 5 pounds at Lake Beshear. Lake Beshear also has the heaviest average winning tournament weight at just over 21 pounds.
Lake Beshear also is second behind Cedar Creek Lake in the average size of bass weighed in at slightly over 3 pounds. Cedar Creek Lake's average tournament bass weighs 4.64 pounds, but the lake also has a 20-inch minimum size limit.
Barren River Lake ranked second in average winning weight at just above 17 pounds, just ahead of Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. These two lakes also rank third and fourth in the average weight per bass in the compiled tournament data as well as hours of fishing needed to catch a bass over five pounds.
You don't need an expensive boat, or any boat at all, to catch a trophy bass at this time of year. Bank fishing can provide you with trophy bass right now if you choose wisely. The back ends of small coves on the main lake or major creek arms hold big bass right now. If the bass haven't moved to the back of them, the smaller coves allow you to easily access points on the major creek arms or the main lake via a short walk.
Farm ponds are another option if you don't own a boat. They heat up quicker in spring than big lakes, and you can usually fish nearly all of an average-sized pond from the bank. A 1/8-ounce double-bladed white spinnerbait is a tough lure to beat as is a Texas-rigged pumpkinseed lizard with a chartreuse tail.