, Port Arthur, Texas

January 12, 2013

Chester Moore column: Looking at bass angler mistakes

Chester Moore
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR —  Over the last two weeks, we have looked at key mistakes madE by anglers and todaY we conclude with bass fishing mistakes.

    Largemouth bass on pressured waters are the spookiest fish we pursue with an eerie “intelligence” about them that makes it seem as though they can participate our next move.

    According to 4-time Bassmaster Classic champion Rick Clunn the greatest mistake is not repeating the exact cast you just made to catch a fish.

    “Anglers should try to remember to make the exact cast to the exact spot and work the lure the exact same way. First off, bass are often together so there very well could be another there. Secondly, if you are aware of exact details and can repeat what you did then you might let the lure fall the same way or work a crankbait with the same exact retriever,” Clunn said.

    “There is a reason what you did worked so it is worth repeating.”

    The only other angler to attain four Classic titles is Kevin VanDam who won back to back in 2010-2011.

    I have had the awesome pleasure of fishing with four time Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin VanDam a few times.

    The first time I fished with him was on Lake Conroe and the first question I asked him was what is the most important skill for an angler.

    "Proper casting is the most important thing an angler can do to up his game," Van Dam said.

    "Being able to make long casts with soft landings and with pinpoint accuracy is crucial to making a strong presentation to bass, especially the really big ones which are shy to begin with."

    As he said this, Van Dam was pitching 25-pound fluorocarbon line extremely long distances by flipping standards into nooks and crannies along  

    Lake Conroe's developed shorelines. Fluorocarbon is not easy to cast, flip, or do just about anything with, much less with line the size of Weed Eater string. However, watching him work it left me amazed and realizing my flipping skills need serious help.

    Really big largemouth bass are rare creatures resulting from strong genetics, age and an ability to elude anglers.

    Of those three traits, elusiveness falls partly into the hands of us anglers who tend to tackle the obvious and avoid the mysterious and this is a big mistake.

    “We do a lot of electroshock surveys to help determine bass population and the overall health of the fishery, but we generally get very few large specimens that way,” said Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) fisheries biologist in Jasper Todd Driscoll.

    “Most of the bigger fish hang out in deeper water and our electroshock surveys are really only effective at depths of eight feet of less. We shock lots of fish but when you get a really big one you hear about it.”

    Back in the late 1990s, I did a series of articles for this paper and touched on Rayburn’s big bass boom. I started to gather information from marinas about the fish over nine pounds caught by anglers in tournaments and also from anglers I knew that worked the lake regularly.

    One of the things that jumped out at me was that anglers were catching most of the big fish between 12 and 20 feet of water. However, when I went to Rayburn, most of the anglers were targeting fish in much shallower water.    

    Solely fishing in shallow water is a huge mistake anglers make especially if they are pursuing big fish.

     Keeping with the idea of catching huge bass some refusing to fish with super-sized lures can be a mistake.

  In fact, according to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries Biologist Craig Bonds is how far bass can open their mouths.

    “If they can fit it in their mouths, they will attack it and over the years I have seen impressive evidence of this,” Bonds said.

    As a graduate student, he conducted a study examining bass dietary habits using clear plastic tubes that could be inserted through the mouth, worked into the stomach and used to extract the contents without hurting the fish.

    “I found everything from snakes to small turtles, a baby duck and all kinds of fish from sunfish to other bass.”

The 2008 Bassmaster Classic champion Alton Jones said his experience fishing on Lake Falcon suggests sometimes, very large lures will draw strikes or at least attention from big bass when others fail.

    “You can see the big fish on a deep point and they avoid most things but you put something on like a huge swimbait and then the fish swim out for a look for you get bit,” Jones said.

     In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes made by bass fishermen is relying too much on lure color to determine success.

    Yes, it can make a huge difference but changing colors 10 times during a trip keeps your lure in the boat more than on the water. Be aware of water changes that could signal a color change is needed but find 3-4 standards for each lure and stick to them.

    This will give you confidence and allow you to spend more time worrying about casting, retrieving and feeling the bite than wondering if the color you are fishing is right.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI. You can watch him on his WebTV series “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore” at .)