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BRIAN JOHNSON ON OUTDOORS — Best practices for catching big bass

I have been bass fishing since I can remember. I still remember my first bass boat and everyone that I have had since then. I can tell you how fast they went, what kind of electronics that they had and even the type of trolling motor on the bow. Like most avid bass fisherman, I have caught thousands of bass through the years. I have even been accused of fishing too much! I hate false accusations — I mean how can you fish too much?

The other day, I sent my dad a picture of a fish that I caught and he asked me a great question. He asked how I always caught big fish wherever I went fishing. As I thought about this question, it caused me to reflect on my lifetime of fishing. While it is true that I have been very blessed with catching some lunkers, it hasn’t always been this way. In fact, I fished for many years before I ever caught a bass over five pounds. Through lots of research and trial and error, I have learned a few things that help consistently produce big bass. Below are a few of the things I have learned.

The first thing that is absolutely necessary and may seem a bit obvious to state is this: You have to fish where big fish live. If you are fishing in an overstocked pond that only has small bass, it stands to reason that you will only catch small bass. The same is typically true for some of our rivers and bayous. While there is an exception to every rule, if you want to catch big bass, go fishing where they are known to live. Places like Sam Rayburn, Toledo Bend and Lake Fork come to mind. Many of the state’s power plant reservoirs also produce giants.

Once you are on a big bass-holding body of water, remember this: Big bass love heavy cover. I had the chance to fish with Bass Master Classic winner, Tommy Martin, a few years back. During our trip we were talking about catching bass as well as about bow hunting. He told me that if I would bass fish the same way I hunted for big deer, I would have success. He was correct.  What he was telling me is that big bass stay in the cover just like giant bucks. The only exception would be the spawn and the rut. If you want to catch big bass, focus on heavy cover such as brush, grass, or ledges. This is where the big ones hang out.

Big fish relate to creeks and deep water. If you find a big bass, you can bet that access to a creek and deeper water isn’t far away. Creeks and channels are bass super highways. When fishing, focus on the coves that have deep creeks in them.

Another important thing that I learned was this: Some baits work better for big fish than others. Buzz Baits, Plastic Frogs, Jigs and large soft plastics have been very good big fish baits for me. While I catch big fish on other baits as well, it seems that these baits are the most consistent when it comes to producing the monsters. This may be due to the fact that they can all be fished easily in heavy cover. Regardless of the reason, you can bet I will have one or all of these tied on when I head to the lake.

When fishing for big bass, like hunting for big deer, you must be patient. Slow down and take your time. I have found that the more faithful I am to these baits and methods, the luckier I am at catching big bass.

Good luck on your next trip and I hope you catch a big one!

Brian Johnson, originally of Port Neches, is pastor of First Baptist Church of Winnie, owner of DuckDogTrainer.com and outdoors writer for The News.