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Bass Patterns

How To Pattern Bass

By Fritz Nordengren

If you've read Ronnie's version of our 4 days fishing together, you should get the impression it was a pretty good few days. Anytime you can get a friend and fish together is a good time.

Of course, in the 4 days of fishing, I zeroed 2 days, caught 4, and missed two very nice fish. Like many fisherman, I'm better as a "Monday morning quarterback" and telling you what I should have done than doing it at the time.

After fishing for about a year now, I'm convinced I know enough about fishing to be dangerous. A little knowledge is a scary thought. But let me tell you some observations I made during this trip and how you can use it to your advantage.

Ideas Leading To A Pattern

There are three "ingredients" to how I thought during my days with Ronnie they are:

  • One time in chat, Ronnie mentioned this to someone who said they hadn't done well in a tournament. Ronnie said, "It sounds like they were fishing places, not patterns." When I heard that, I didn't fully understand it, but I filed it away.

  • The next ingredient was comments made by Lip Jerker in chat that he caught two 7 pound bass on a jig in 45 - 50 degree water. He said they were on the rocks and would be moving to wood in 50 + degree water.

  • The third ingredient came Sunday night when we cleaned some bass for dinner on Tuesday. I asked Ronnie to cut open the stomach of the 2 pounder he caught and we found parts of 4 crayfish.

Okay, so now you know the ingredients

  • Places not patterns
  • Bass move from rocks to wood as water warms
  • Bass were dining on crayfish

Three Lakes

We fished 3 different lakes: Sinclair, Jackson and West Point. Different lakes, different conditions, but bass are bass and creatures of habit and instinct.

The water temp at Sinclair and Jackson was 51 - 55 degrees. At Sinclair, the 6 bass hit on rip rap rocks and 2 hit near brush piles. At Jackson, with slightly warmer water, the bass hit in shallow water, near bigger rocks and sloping boat ramps homeowners have in their back yards. All out bass hit on the sunny side of the cove. These boat ramp slabs are "big rocks" in a way.

At West Point, we started out fishing places Ronnie remembered catching big fish. In fact, almost all 4 days were like being on the set of "This is Your Life Ronnie Garrison" as he relived some of the best catches he has made. And Ronnie is more than a good angler, so believe me, he has lots of memories about great fish caught in great PLACES. His conversation was sprinkled with stories bout the 6, 7 and 8 pounders he caught, as well as those caught by his wife and tournament partners. Ronnie was remembering places.

But I'm a beginner from out of town. So as we rode around these lakes, nothing was familiar to me. I didn't have any great memories, and I didn't know any of the local hot spots.

As we worked along rocky and sandy shore, we came to a point with big rock in the sun. And there Ronnie caught 2 bass, almost back to back. It wasn't until we were in front of another point, with big rocks in the sun that I caught and lost a nice bass (3 - 4 pounds.) I lost it because it flipped off at the boat. That was my first fish ever on a jig and pig.

Ronnie was remembering this cove as a "place". He thought it was "too shallow" and he hadn't fished there or caught fish there. I looked at where we were looking for the pattern: there were plenty of big rocks in the sun. Thinking back to what Lip said, the water was 56 degrees, so if they were moving, it would be from rocks to wood. In a few places, there were trees down in front of big rocks, in the sun.

The bass we dissected was eating crayfish -- and lots of them, a jig and pig fished to that pattern was bound to pay off. And it did.

Yes, I lost a second big fish when my line broke. I had tied a leader of Fluorocarbon line to my Fireline because I was concerned about the visibility of the flame green Fireline with the jig. When I crossed the basses eyes with my hook set the Fireline cut through the Fluorocarbon at the splice I made and the line gave. That is the last time I'll use a leader like that. If the line needs to be clear, I'll go with one line, not a leader.

So maybe my experience will help you. Try not to fish the memories and places you've caught fish, find the pattern and you'll eliminate a lot of trial and error.

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