September 5, 2018

What You Can Learn From This Lunker Bass

We learned lessons from catching one small bass, so what could be had from landing a wall-hanger?

We all go fishing for different reasons: the peacefulness of the marsh, the fight of a big redfish, or simply the challenge of outwitting something with a brain the size of a peanut.

Maybe one of those things do it for you, or maybe it's something else.

But whatever it is, I respect that and am glad you like fishing as much as I do.

For me, the reason I go fishing is to become a better angler.

It's weird, but I gain a lot of satisfaction from launching the boat and, not relaxing, but working my ass off.

That doesn't seem like anything anyone would want when going fishing, but the reward is worth it!

Rewards like:

  • Finding a new fishing spot
  • Catching fish using a new lure
  • Succeeding with a new technique
  • Anything that builds my confidence

Yes, these things fly in the face of time-tested fishing knowledge:

  • "fish with what you're comfortable" 
  • "fish just one area and learn it inside out"

But I encourage you to break both of those guidelines, because I learned the best rewards come on the heels of fishing in a completely new way - like when I caught this bass.

So why not try something new?

What if you gained an edge to catch specks and reds? Wouldn't that be awesome?

What This Big Bass Taught Me

There were two things I wanted to improve upon:

  • successfully fish "offshore" structure
  • catch bass using deep-diving crankbaits

What Is This "Offshore" Fishing?

This term is a misnomer, because we inshore anglers think of saltier ventures into bluer water when we hear "offshore".

real offshore fishing

But in the context of this article, I am using the word as it pertains to bass fishing.

It's called "offshore" fishing because you are literally not fishing on the shore, but out in the open, where there isn't anything above the water we can see and cast to.

Because of this, it is very important to identify the best spots using electronics.

Humminbird AutoChart Live Lake Conroe

AutoChart Live made fishing the right structure a lot easier.

A topographical map helped me locate spots that matched the kind of bottom structure bass are known to use during the summer.

Basically, I just guessed that they'd be "good".

Then, I graphed those spots, confirming their structure and looking for the presence of bait, fish or both.

Bait Ball and Bass on Side Imaging Sonar Humminbird Helix 7

Deep Diving Crankbaits

It sounds as easy as tying one on and catching a fish on it.

But it's not. :/

These kind of crankbaits are big, weighing one to two ounces.

So, to cast these lures far and dive deep requires special tackle:

  • light line (10-12lb test fluorocarbon)
  • low gear ratio reel (5:1)
  • long rod (7'11") w/ a mod fast action
  • and more

Big crankbaits like Strike King's 6XD, 8XD and 10XD models where my "go-to" and, paired with the above tackle, did just fine.

Note: Casting them is a workout!

Duce Echo ECH710 Strike King 10XD

This color is preferred during spring, but it worked the best here. I know. It's weird.

The Results

There were some promising spots, but what wasn't promising was the amount of boat traffic. 

It was obvious that any spot, no matter how good it was, could easily be overtaken by partygoers and jet skis.

Hey, this is Lake Conroe, not the Biloxi Marsh!

It wasn't easy casting a 2oz crankbait with wakes coming from every direction (it really was that bad).

But some some nice fish to managed to come over the side of the boat, like this one.

Lake Conroe Largemouth Bass

I don't know how much this bass weighed, but I guess 3lbs.

Which, honestly, had been the goal.

Besides, there are tons of marsh bass to catch here in Louisiana, but hardly any that tip that scales like this one.

Devin Denman Lake Conroe Big Bass

Boy, I'll never forget watching her mouth break the surface!

A short fight seemed like an eternity before I grabbed her mouth, trying not to get stuck by big treble hooks and bringing her safely over the side of the boat.

Looking at the fish, then my dad...well, I didn't know what to do.

I mean, what does a dog do when he finally catches a car?

Then the moment passed, and years of catching speckled trout took over: there could be more!

So I kept casting, just to be sure, before putting the rod down, taking some photos and releasing her.

Catch and Release Big Bass

Big fish like this are special, at least to me. So I put them back.

How big was she?

A little under 9 pounds, so not even a double-digit worthy of Bassmaster magazine.

Next time!

But, the exact weight of the fish is not the focus here.

It's the lessons learned, and how they apply to inshore fishing.

What can we learn here?

We can take home, to our beloved marsh, several bits of knowledge to help us catch speckled trout and redfish.

Big Crankin' Isn't It

I'll just leave it at that. Ha ha ha!

Winging those big lures and cranking them is a workout and I don't believe it fits our speckled trout and redfish well.

There are far better ways to catch them.

But the experience is still a win because the technique was new, and having caught nice fish using it boosted my confidence levels.

Offshore Structure in Inshore Fishing

What really applies here is the concept of "offshore" structure.

See, we inshore anglers do well "beating the bank", casting to things we can see above the water. 

Yet we rarely target structure we cannot see (though fish use it).

I don't think speckled trout travel for miles across open bays, haphazardly, from one spot to another. 

It makes sense speckled trout would use available cover and structure along the way, as a "rest stop" to chill out, feed and hide from predators.

There's no need to delve into a whole new article right here, instead I'll write another one detailing this theory. 

I really feel there's something to this!

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a veteran of the Iraq War and former fishing guide. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

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  • I know that now. lol

    I was aware of the program and wanted to donate a fish, but was under the impression it had to be 10lbs.

    I had no idea they changed it to 8lbs.

    Totally boogered that one, but in all reality the fish wasn’t doing well in the livewell, so I put her back ASAP.

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