Plastic navy is well positioned and ready to launch offensive on bass
The time is now for kayak bass fishing in Louisiana. Largemouth bass generally spawn in Louisiana from January through March. The stages vary across the state, but from the lakes of north Louisiana to the southern coastal marshes, if you want to catch some great bass action, launch the kayak and wet a line.
Spawning season is great time to possibly catch your personal best as the females have packed on extra weight due to the production of eggs. The fish move shallower in order to build and tend the nests. Many of these places are tailor-made for kayak access. Be ready for feisty, defensive strikes that mean hard-pulling action.
Does it take a sparkly, go-fast boat to get to bass action this time of year? Absolutely not.
During a recent trip to a lake filled with bass boats, many boat anglers were surprised to see our small fleet of ‘yaks fishing the same places with them and their 250 horsepower rigs. They had plenty of questions, but generally sneered at our “plastic navy.” The next morning, we left a little earlier and beat most of the boats to the currently popular spot. One of the guys from the day before trolled past us and remarked, “You guys are savages.” Sure, there are some places too far to reach, but always remember that bass do not know where the boat launch is. At the end of the weekend, we did as well as most and even better than some.
The kayak bass fishing scene has been expanding greatly and for good reason. Kayaks make great platforms to easily access anywhere bass hang out. During the spawn, they seek shallow areas to build nests and lay eggs. These areas are also often close to trees or brushy cover. Maneuvering kayaks easily and quietly into these spots without churning up the bottom can be a big advantage. However, there are a few tricks to being successful.
Kayaks are lightweight and when hooked to a big bass can easily be towed and moved by the fish. Instead of dragging the fish out of the cover and into the open water, you may just find your kayak being dragged towards the cover. When setting up to fish a particular spot, it is best to stake out the kayak with one or two stake-out poles or a Power Pole. These can be deployed quickly and silently and keep the kayak stationary when fighting a big fish. Staking out is also a big advantage when using a paddle kayak, as it is hard to manage a fishing rod and paddle at the same time when fighting a fish.
If you have a pedal kayak, instead of choosing to stake-out, you can keep your feet on the pedals and prepare to use forward or reverse as necessary to keep or move the kayak into the best position to keep the fish from getting into the thick stuff.
If you’re fishing lakes with lots of wood, brush, or thick lily pads, you want to gear up a bit heavier to be able to quickly winch the fish out of the heavy cover before it gets you tangled up or broken off. Sitting in the kayak while fighting a fish decreases some of your leverage. Heavy braid works great in areas with lily pads as the braid acts as a knife and can cut through the thick lily stems.
While a wide variety of lures work well for spawning bass, Texas or Carolina rigged soft plastics are hard to beat. Rigged weedless allows the bait to get into the cover while avoiding most snags. From looking like worms, crawfish, beetles, and an endless array of other creature baits, these soft plastics have a look and presentation that spawning bass find hard to resist.
Another factor is that the lure can be kept right in front of them and literally aggravate them into striking. Packing up a full supply of styles, colors, sizes, hooks and weights can easily be done in one or two tackle trays to take up little room in the kayak. Although bass have no teeth and can easily be lipped, a good dip net can be the difference in ending up with a trophy or tears. Keep it close by.
Bed fishing is legal, although some question the ethics. Finding big egg-laden females hovering around a nest site or aggressive males there defending the eggs or fry is generally a sure-fire way to catch a nice bass during spawning season. Tossing a soft plastic and jiggling it around the nest often draws vicious strikes. Nest fishing can be somewhat difficult in a kayak, as it requires height to be able to spot the nests and fish. Standing to fish in a kayak also takes extraordinary balance for many. Even then, a missed hookset, broken line or errant cast can all mean an unexpected swim. If you choose to try bed fishing, a big-brimmed hat and good sunglasses makes spotting the fish easier.
While bed fishing is widely debated, there is a general consensus from fisheries biologists that properly handled and quickly released fish have little if any negative effect on the spawning process. This is especially true if released in the same area as they were caught. Both males and females caught bed fishing should always be released as they both play a role in regard to the bed.
Largemouth bass are the most popular game fish in the country and are found in almost every state. They are relatively easy to catch, hard fighting and they regularly put on an aerial show. Although many tournament purists cringe at the thought of keeping bass for dinner, we here in Louisiana value a good meal, especially one self-provided. Through sound management practices, the state has an ample population of bass to satisfy those looking for supper, a trophy — or both.
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