To catch a big bass at Caney Lake, fish the lake when no one else is fishing there.
In December, the deer will be in the rut, the ducks will be coming down the flyway and families will get together to watch their favorite football teams.
So the last thing on many sportsmen's minds will be going to Caney to catch big bass, although large numbers of fishermen will travel there to catch big pre-spawn females from January-March.
Even during warm weather in December, the lake will experience little fishing pressure. Warm weather this month should cause the bass to be fairly active, and fishermen have the opportunity to catch double-digit bass.
If the bass are shallow
The bass either will be deep or shallow at Caney in December. Depending on the water temperature, I'll probably begin fishing fairly shallow.
Although, Caney Lake once contained an abundance of aquatic vegetation, most of this grass has been removed. The lake still has lily-pad fields, which I'll fish with a Strike King spinnerbait and Pure Poison, a chatter-bait style lure.
Water temperatures in the high 50s and low 60s will mean the bass are very active and feeding. I'll use a 1/2-ounce Sexy Shad spinnerbait with a No. 4 and 4 1/2 willowleaf blade, with one gold blade and the other nickel, on 20-pound-test Gamma fluorocarbon line.
Rarely will you find bass in the mid-water zone. I'll fish the spinnerbait and the black/blue Pure Poison on a medium to slow retrieve, pausing the bait, stopping it, dropping it, speeding it up and then giving it erratic action. I'll fish it just out of sight, maybe 1 or 2 feet underwater.
Because the Pure Poison has a lot of action, I'll fish it differently than the spinnerbait, more on a steady retrieve, crawling it down around the base of the lily pads just up from the bottom. This bait has a totally different appearance in the water than the spinnerbait, and will run at a different depth.
I'll use a 6-foot, 10-inch Kevin VanDam Signature Series Quantum Tour Edition PT rod with a 6:1 gear ratio Quantum Tour Edition PT reel.
When the bass aren't shallow
After I fish the pockets and the lily pads, I'll start searching for bass on the first drop-off away from shallow water. The crappie and the bass fishermen who regularly fish Caney Lake often put brush out on the first drop-off — generally in 10 to 12 feet of water and 16 to 18 feet of water. I'll look for brush and baitfish with my electronics.
If I'm graphing shad in 12 feet of water, I'll look for brush at that depth where the bass also will be holding to ambush the shad. I'll let the bait tell me what depth I need to fish.
Caney Lake is fairly clean of bank cover and underwater stumps and logs. It's not a very big lake. Although the lake contains a couple of arms, it's a rounded lake. So, in a day, using my electronics, I can find the drop-offs, the brush, the shad and the bass, if they've pulled out away from the bank.
If the bass aren't in the brush
If I find the baitfish holding on a drop-off with no brush or wood cover, I'll fish the Strike King Sexy Spoon, a casting spoon. When I'm fishing the Sexy Spoon, I'll use my 7-foot, 11-inch Greg Hackney Signature Series Quantum Tour Edition PT rod. I'll pull the spoon off the bottom, instead of jerking it.
Once the spoon is up to the depth where the bass are holding, I'll let the spoon fall back on a slack line, and watch my line to see the bites. You'll often see the line stop when the bass takes the spoon.
The Sexy Spoon, between 4 1/2- to 5-inches long, is a big-fish lure. When I fish Caney, I'm not trying to catch large numbers of bass, but rather the biggest bass in the lake.
Don't expect to go to Caney Lake in December and catch 20 bass. I'm hoping to catch five or six bass with one of those fish weighing 8 pounds or more.
When the bass are in the brush
If the shad and the brush are at 12 feet or more, I'll be fishing a 1/2-ounce black/blue Strike King Premier Elite Denny Brauer jig. When the fish are deeper than 12 feet, I may use a 3/4-ounce jig. Even if the fish are lethargic and holding in the brush, I can use that big jig, bang it around in the brush and make those bass bite. I'm using the jig because it's a big-profile bait, and I'm fishing for big bass.
In December, I'll usually start fishing with a black/blue jig. However, if the day's really sunny, and the water's very clear, I'll try a pumpkin/green or black/brown/amber jig. I'll use a sapphire/blue chunk on the black/blue jig or a green/pumpkin chunk as a trailer on the pumpkin/green or black/brown/amber jig.
If the weather's pretty in December, another tactic I'll try is flipping boat docks around the lake with the jig. I'll be fishing the same-colored jigs, but I'll primarily use a 1/2-ounce jig to flip with the same line and rod setup as I've used for fishing the jig deep.
If you use these tactics and strategies on Caney Lake this month, make sure to have a firm hold on your rod, or it may get snatched out of your hands.