Meet Bill Dance
Memories of Bass Trips Past
Posted: December 11th, 2013
Someone recently asked me if I remember catching my first 5-pound bass.
The answer is no, but I do remember catching my first 7-pounder. And the 7 may have actually come before my first 5-pounder, and that may be why it stands out in my memory, I’m not sure. But I do remember it was in 20 feet of water and I was in the middle of picking back-lashed line out of my reel on Valentine’s Day, 1959. It was so cold that my fingers ached as I picked at the knotted line on my reel.
I had just made a long cast with a Buck Perry Spoon Plug prior to the back-lash, and as I worked to get my reel in order, I felt a tug.
What I learned from this now long-ago 7-pound surprise was that the then common belief that big bass hibernate in winter was a myth. I came to understand that big bass could be caught during the colder months. Today it’s something we all know: Don’t stop fishing when the waters turn cold, because bass don’t stop feeding.
Here’s something else A BDO viewer made me recall the other day. He asked me if I could remember when I first started fishing the jig and eel.
Well, I have to knock the rust off that memory, but I can still recall it well. I remember in the late 1950s when I would read articles about Sam Welch, an angler that used this lure very effectively at Bullshoals, Arkansas. He caught some really big stringers using this lure, mainly at night.
Reading about his success, it was something I couldn’t wait to try. And I soon did, on night-fishing trips to Pickwick Lake, near Savannah, Tennessee. It took a while, getting used to fishing the lure and learning how to use it effectively. But after reading more articles about Welch’s technique, I caught on. I really couldn’t believe the size of the bass I was catching.
The jig and eel was catching me 5- and 7-pounders where plastic worms were catching me 1- and 3-pounders. And to be totally honest, I don’t know why. But the bait repeatedly proved itself to me.
I caught bass on the jig and eel from mid- to late fall, ’til it got so foggy I couldn’t fish. I thought maybe that the water temp was cooler and so I started back fishing the jig and eel again in February at night and picked up where I left off, with the same results.
I also soon learned this great bait could be used in hot weather, but I didn’t catch near the same size bass in warm-weather months. In the summer, I caught bigger fish with the plastic worm and I couldn’t explain that. The only time the jig and eel outshined the plastic worms during these warmer months was when I was flippin’ some thick cover, where it was more difficult to fish plastic worms.
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