Many fishermen take their vacations in July and August to practice their favorite hobby. Some even rent a travel trailer or spend hard-earned money paying for a weeks lodging at an expensive motel on or near the lake.
What do they get for their time and money? How about ticks, mosquitoes, gnats and flies? Add to that the nuts riding by their favorite fishing holes on personal watercraft, creating a wake that threatens to scuttle even the larger bass boats. And dont forget the heat and the sunburn.
But its all worth it to catch a limit of bass, right? The truth is, during these summer months, a limit of bass on a hard-fished impoundment is hard to come by. Why? Because the clear skies, clear water and hot summer sun cause the bass to go deep -- so deep that the average fisherman does not know how to manipulate a lure in such deep water.
So is there another answer? You bet there is. This year, try taking that fishing vacation in October or even November. The water skiers and pleasure boaters have generally stored their gear for the year. The weather is pleasant, with a light jacket being the garb of the day. The bugs and snakes have hibernated. A bit of sun-block, lip balm and a life jacket are the only items needed for total comfort.
The bass (also crappie, bream and your other favorite species) are on a feeding frenzy, building up a layer of fat to survive the winter. Stripers and hybrids are corralling schools of baitfish and gorging themselves with more than they can swallow. Its not unusual to catch one of these in November and have it throwing up gobs of baitfish while laying on the bottom of the boat, even in the live well.
Bass are also active on the surface, smashing top-water lures like they did in early spring. Also, as in spring fishing, the bass will explode on a shallow-running spinner-bait or buzz-bait. The colder water has invigorated them, and they fight much harder than in summer. It is not at all unusual to hook a hard-fighting fish, have it jump completely clear of the waters surface and, with a mean gleam in its eye, throw the hook. Its also not unusual for another bass to slam the lure before the fisherman can reel in for another cast. In ultra-clear water, one can often see several bass chasing after the one with the lure in its mouth, wanting to share the bounty.
There is still another plus. After the water cools down, the flesh of the fish takes on a different texture. It is firmer, and it looks white and clean rather than the dull summer yellow-gray hue. The result is that the fish tastes so much better, having purged itself of the rank taste caused by summer hot water.
Could it be that some of you who have scheduled another fishing vacation for next summer just might want to change your schedule?
Emory Josey writes a weekly outdoors column. Send questions for him to The Telegraph, P.O. Box 4167, Macon, Ga., 31208-4167, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org