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What Is Patterning Bass and How Do I Do It?

Bass Patterns

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These two nice spotted bass were caught at Lake Russell in Georgia in March.

These two nice spotted bass were caught at Lake Russell in Georgia in March.

2009 Ronnie Garrison, licensed to About.com
Good bass fishermen can pattern bass. That means they can catch a few bass and figure out what the bass are doing at that time on a lake. They can then go catch other bass in similar places with similar baits. For example, if a good bass fisherman catches three bass off blowdown trees on three different points, he will start running from point to point casting only to blowdown trees, using the same bait the first three hit.

Several years ago Fritz, a friend from Des Moines, visited the last week of February for some fishing. We hit Sinclair twice, Jackson once and spent our last day on West Point. A pattern gradually emerged that worked on all four lakes and helped us put bass in the boat.

Fritz goes by the name "Learning To Fish At 40" on my internet site since he took up fishing when he turned 40. I call it his mid life crisis. He is very smart and has read a lot on fishing, and has taught me some things! He looks at fishing in a different way than I do, with a fresh perspective.

We started fishing "places" at Sinclair that February, places I remember catching bass at that time of year. We tried lots of places with a variety of baits including crankbaits, spinner baits, jig and pig and worms.

After about half the first day was gone Fritz said "Do you realize every bass we have caught hit a jig and pig on rocks near deep water. So we started concentrating on those types of places using a jig and pig and caught a good many bass the rest of that day and the next day on Sinclair. We tried some other stuff, like fishing into the coves behind the points, but the bass just were not there.

It had been unusually warm and by Monday it was almost like spring. We went to Jackson and started on the same pattern from the day before, and caught fish. Buy that afternoon we saw the water had warmed so we started fishing into the pockets behind the points, too, and catching a few bass off wood cover. That had not worked the day before or that morning.

We had a good day at Jackson and decided to go to West Point the next day. A hard cold front came through and temperatures were dropping fast. But the pattern held, and we hooked some nice bass on rocky points and the wood cover behind them. We ended the day with me catching a 7.5 pound largemouth on a jig and pig out of a blowdown and Fritz catching a four pound bass, his best to that point, out of another blowdown.

Last Saturday night at Jackson Niles Murray and I fished the Sportsman Club tournament. We started on my favorite point near the dam but all we got was a spot that was too short to keep. At about 6:45 we ran up to the mouth of Tussahaw Creek where Niles has caught some fish the weekend before and started working the area.

At 7:20 I landed a good two pound keeper spot on a main lake point with some rocks on it. It hit a jig head worm. Niles caught a short bass and some bluegill on his crankbait. About an hour later we had worked up the bank to another point with some rocks on it and I got another keeper spot, then Niles got one on his crankbait.

It was almost dark so we kept fishing up the bank, fishing around the coves and working all the cover we came to. At about 9:10 we had worked out onto another main lake point with rocks and, guess what. I got another keeper spot! At that point we decided to concentrate on that pattern but did not catch any more fish.

I wish I had caught on to that pattern quicker. We wasted a lot of time fishing in coves and other places where there were no bass. If we had started jumping from point to point earlier I think we could have caught more fish. By full dark the fish had stopped hitting on points, it seems.

The bass may have started hitting on that pattern again later in the night but we stopped at 12:30 AM. I have seen this type pattern in the past, where bass hit pretty good from 6:00 PM until about 9:00 PM then a lull with no bites until after midnight. It seems to me the fish need to adjust to full dark before they start hitting again.

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