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Of bass season and how to succeed

8/17/2005

It's the opening of bass season in Minnesota, land of high taxes and/or fees and short bass seasons.

Wisconsin residents have been casting for bass for about a month now.

In most of the country, bass fishing season never ends.

Why is Minnesota so ultra-protective of its prolific largemouth bass? Is it biology? Nope? Is it political pressure? Nope, again. Is it because that's the way it's always been? Yup. Tradition.

One question: Why is Minnesota so reluctant to expand its bass-fishing opportunity while almost every other state has already done so?

Another question: With growing fishing pressure on walleye, why doesn't Minnesota allow catch-and-release bass fishing when the walleye season begins? OK, enough whining.

But another question beckons: Are there new ways to catch bass? I know this.

There are old ways being recycled as new. Consider the wacky worm hype. Wacky worm is a soft plastic worm that is hooked in the middle instead of the end.

Remember as a kid how you hooked night crawlers? Now we have wacky worm, which is a re-enactment.

In addition, the original rubber worm introduced nearly a half-century ago actually was akin to the wacky worm of today.

Frankie Dusenka, the famed Chisago bait man, was glowing the other day about an old-style plastic worm (called Bill's) with pre-tied, imbedded hooks and a bent shape, which made the worm spin when retrieved. Bass can't seem to resist them, Dusenka declared.

Indeed, the old ways of fishing, sooner or later, become the new ways.

And yet another question: Will wacky worms (or anything else) catch bass on opening day?

Season openers are always fascinating for the variety of scenarios that prevail. Bass are spawning now in many metro lakes. Further north, the spawning mood may be slightly behind.

Truth is, not all bass spawn at the same time, but the mood of bass will be modified.

Perhaps the best bass-searching tool in your tackle box will be a white spinnerbait. You can cover a lot of water in a hurry. Any largemouth on the hunt can't seem to resist spinnerbaits, so you'll find out what's going on. If a spinnerbait fails to attract much attention, it may be a signal to slow down.

My next choice is a surface lure, such as the original floating Rapala or floating weightless plastic worm or a popper-style topwater. In cold water, bass are more apt to go topwater rather than chase a faster moving bait, such as spinnerbaits.

Opening-day success is not always determined by lure choice, however. This is a most moody fish. Temperamental might be a better word.

As always, the challenge is to match what you're casting with what the bass are willing to pursue. And don't forget the question of where to cast?

My old walleye guru, Gary Roach, is fond of saying, "You'll always find walleyes deep, shallow or somewhere in between.'' The state's largemouth and smallmouth bass will be hanging out in the same places.


Ron Schara may be reached at ron@mnbound.com.

Schara's 250-page book, "Ron Schara's Minnesota Fishing Guide" (Tristan Outdoors; $19.95) is available by clicking here or by calling 888-755-3155.

April through June, Ron Schara's short feature "The Outdoor Beat" airs at 7:55 a.m. ET Sundays on ESPN2. Click here to view this week's show descriptions.