Dale Taylor has been fishing for largemouth bass for close to 60 years. He has probably put his hands on as many big bass as any other fisherman in his part of the state. Why? Not only does he catch big bass on a consistent basis, he also directs several big bass tournaments.
One of those is the 26-hour Majestic tournament on Lake D’Arbonne, held each year the second weekend in June. It’s more like a marathon than a tournament, but big bass are what folks are after. What’s your best bet for a lunker? Taylor knows.
“The buzzbait is always one of the top lures for catching the big bass of the tournament, especially the early and late bite,” Taylor says. “It’s the best all-around bait to catch bass on whether you are competing or just having fun.”
Taylor’s knowledge of buzz baiting for big bass could fill up a whole semester of bass fishing class, but here’s the Downsville resident’s version of a crash course in “Get Your Buzz on 101.”
If you are just starting out, the first thing you do is get a couple of buzzbaits (his favorite is the original Lunker Lure model), tie them on a piece of heavy monofilament line, roll down the car window, hold the bait outside the window and ride down the road a few miles going about 30 miles an hour.
“I’m serious, that’s how we tune the baits to where they run just right and make the perfect chirping sound that big bass just can’t stand,” Taylor says. “That’s the first and most important part of getting a buzzbait right for bass. It is absolutely the best way to break in a brand new buzz bait lure. Out of the box, it makes a “squeak” type sound when the blades turn. That’s okay, but you want it to make a ‘chirp...chirp...chirp’ sound every time the blade turns. That combined with the general commotion that the lure causes coming across the water is a killer for big bass in the summer.”
If you have ever fished a buzzbait, you know that the lure buzzes, spits, “chirps” and splashes as it flies by a tree stump, boat dock, grass bed or lily pad. It has got to be the most obnoxious thing a bass has ever seen. They can’t help but gulp it down, or at least take a swat at it, just to show it who’s boss. Getting that sound right is the icing on the cake.
“Bass are aggressive anyway,” Taylor says. “The bigger bass are super aggressive and in the summer, they may feed two or three times a day. But they want something big. And they don’t want to have to go too far to get it. That’s why a buzzbait thrown tight by cover is hard to beat.”
Buzzbait fishing is contrary to how some may approach hot weather fishing, when the general trend is to think “deep water.” But the fish are going where the baitfish are and where the oxygen is. In many instances, that’s in shallow water.
After you get the sound right, the next step is to find the right kind of cover. That can be almost anywhere, including some places where you don’t expect it.
“On the Ouachita River in the summer, you can be back up in a slough where the water along the edges is only a foot or two deep and the water temp is 90 degrees. But if the cover is right, those big bass will lay up in it and they will absolutely smash a buzzbait.”
On lakes like D’Arbonne and Caney, Taylor likes to find grass beds and fish the lure across the top, making sure to pull it across any holes in the grass.
“Those fish will lay back under the grass and they will track the lure as it heads toward the opening. When it gets in the open, they’ll nail it,” he says. “They probably already know where those holes in the grass are because they’ve chased baitfish out into the open and fed there before.”
D’Arbonne has several areas with lily pad fields. This are popular spots in the spring, but often get overlooked in the summer. That would be a mistake, Taylor says.
Caney, D’Arbonne and the river have stump fields, which are also good, but Taylor says make sure you fish the lure close by cover. Boat dock and pier pilings are the same. Concentrate on the shady areas because that’s where fish lay in wait to ambush some dinner. Buzz the bait right by the cover, even bumping it when you can.
Caney Lake near Chatham is well known as a trophy lake, but most think of it only in the spring. With grass coming back into the lake, that is changing. In Taylor’s years of tournament directing the biggest fish he’s ever had come to the scales was an 11.21 pounder caught on a buzzbait in June in shallow water.