So you’ve been out there bass fishing for years and years and haven’t caught anything over 10 pounds. You feel like you’ve been doing everything right because you always seem to catch fish, but just not the big dogs. What gives? Well, read on, my big bass-free friends!
Awhile back, I had the pleasure of speaking with two of the best trophy bass anglers in the country, Bob Crupi and Bill Murphy. Listen to the credentials these guys have: Crupi has caught 142 largemouth over 10 pounds, 13 fish over 15 pounds and two over 21 pounds – including one that was a just 3 ounces shy of the world record of 22 pounds, 4 ounces. Murphy has caught countless largemouths over the 10-pound mark, 42 over 13 pounds and two in the 17-pound class. Between the two, they’ve probably caught more big fish than just about everybody else in the country combined. Both men are full of insight regarding the sport of big bass fishing and here’s some key pointers that they gave to help improve your game:
Both guys stressed this fact several times. Basically, you can’t expect to go out and catch a monster every time out.
“You need a lot of patience and have to concentrate on the productive spots,” Crupi said. “Fishing for big bass is like a stakeout. You have to figure out what the bass’ patterns are, know their habits and then wait ’em out.”
Stick to One Spot
Unlike the way the most of us approach bass fishing (put the trolling motor down and move around a lot), Murphy and Crupi seek out a good looking spot and then anchor up – with two anchors – near it. They look for deepwater dropoffs and ledges that have access to shallow flats. Big bass feel safest in deep water and that’s where they’ll spend the majority of their time. When they get hungry, the fish will move up onto the flats in search of food and then will quickly drop back into the deep water lairs. The two bass gurus said that they will sit on one spot for several hours – sometimes all day.
“You have to really be dedicated – this is not a real fast way to fish,” said Murphy. “Maybe you’ll get one bite all day long. Maybe. If you would rather have more action, work the banks with your trolling motor and fish for smaller fish.”
To Bait Or Not To Bait
When it comes to rigging up for monster bass, Crupi almost exclusively uses live bait. Crawdads are his favorite, but he’ll also go with waterdogs and mudsuckers from time to time. Murphy, on the other hand, likes artificials. In cold water, he feels that pig-n-jigs are tough to beat, and also uses a lot of gigantic 16-inch (yes, that’s 16-inch!) plastic worms. No wonder the rest of us who use 4- or 6-inch worms aren’t getting into the big fish! Heck, I wouldn’t even know where to find a plastic worm that size.
Of course, big swimbaits are all the rage these days and it’s not at all uncommon to see guys hucking 8-inch rubber trout in many waters – especially Western lakes that receive trout plants.
The Hook Up
When you finally do hook the hawg of a lifetime, let it run. Both bass experts said that the biggest bass always instinctively head for deep water. Once they’ve cleared any obstacles near the shore, it’s just a matter of letting them take line and not forcing the issue. Eventually, the fish will tire out and you’ll bee able to work them to the boat.
“Just relax and let them run,” said Murphy. “Don’t get excited and start cranking – you’ll just break the fish off. Let the big guys go where they want to go – within reason, of course!”
Bob Crupi operates Trophy Bass Guide Service in Castaic and can be reached at (805) 257-0860. To read more on this subject, pick up Murphy’s book, In Pursuit of Giant Bass.