OUTDOOR CORNER: Slow rolling spinner baits in clear, black water works for catching bass

Lyle Johnson
Mark Kramer with a couple of the bass caught slow rolling spinner baits in clear water recently near Lake Decade and Lake Penchant.

Last week I was privileged to join Mark Kramer in Theriot at Falgoust Landing for a day of bass fishing. It had been a while since I’d been fishing, so I was looking forward to setting the hook on a bass or two.

The area around Lake Decade and Lake Penchant has been recovering nicely from the hurricanes as far as the bass population is concerned. A dredging project that’s been taking place in the marsh is designed to keep salt water from making its way north allowing more fresh water, hence more bass habitat.

Mark had been catching plenty of bass so my level of expectation was pretty high as we left the launch on a cool morning. A hooded coat along with life jackets kept us pretty warm on the ride so it looked like we were going to have a really good day.

We new the water would be a little high from the rains but what we didn’t expect was an incoming tide as fierce as the one we faced this day. On our third stop we pulled up to a drain into the marsh and the water was pouring in so fast we couldn’t hold the boat in position.

I pitched a wacky worm near the bank in a current break and felt that tell-tale tap on the end of my rod and set the hook on what I was sure was a really nice bass. The fish came to the top after a short fight but what was on my hook was a three pound redfish. A great catch to be sure, but not what we had our hearts set on.

In the next hour and a half we fished some really good spots. We varied the lures we used as well as the presentation; spinner baits, crank baits and plastics as well. The water looked good and every thing seemed to be in place to catch some bass; it wasn’t working out this day. Mark caught another redfish on a spinner bait and I broke another one off on a Zoom finesse worm.

In the next three hours, things only got worse. The wind velocity picked up from a very comfy five mph to 20 mph, making boat position along with lure presentation a chore at best. The tide was still coming in so that didn’t help matters at all so we fished a few dead end canals; not even a bite! All this while we were heading back toward the landing just in case this fishing trip turned out fishless.

It was 12:30 p.m. and 65 miles into our journey and things seemed pretty bleak. At one point Mark turned to me and asked, “Have we forgotten how to fish?” All anglers get to this point on a bad day when you’re just going through the motions - casting your lure and reeling it in so you can hurry and cast it again. This is the mental part of the game that can make you or break you.

We were travelling about 60 mph down a bayou when we passed up a canal from the marsh and black, clear water was coming out the marsh dumping into the muddy bayou. Even though we probably wouldn’t admit it, our mental state was probably in the “give it up” mode.

Mark reluctantly turned the boat around and said “Pick up one of your rods and throw while I hold the boat in place with the big motor.” This usually means we ain’t staying very long for there was little hope in his voice. After I made a few throws with a plastic bait, Mark decides to pick up his spinner bait and on his second cast it finally happened. A one-pound bass attacked his lure - a well needed shot in the arm where our confidence was concerned.

After a few throws I picked one up on a crank bait so we decided to spend some time here. The wind was blowing so hard that it was a fight just to keep the boat in place but this chore wasn’t bad now because we were catching fish. Ninety minutes later we worked that point and 50 yards of the canal and ended up with eight bass.

Clear, black water was one of the keys we thought could be repeated so we headed to a nearby canal that had that clear water and picked up four more bass. It was getting a little late so we decided to stop at one more spot closer to the landing. Two more nice bass fell victim to the spinner bait and brought our total to 14 bass and two redfish.

Thirteen of the 14 bass were tricked into taking a home-made spinner bait with one Colorado blade. The technique that fooled them all was to slow-roll the lure and I mean slow. So next week we’ll talk about tactics to catch bass in the winter and getting the opportunity to catch a really big one. Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. So until next time have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you.