We’ve observed lots of schooling Bass lately, chasing bait both early and late in the day. On Sunday, 11/24, I spotted several buck (male) bass fanning out beds for the upcoming spawn.
Yes, Sir, the spawn is on. On a recent trip we caught and released ten Largemouths in about 2 hours. The total weight was over 40 lbs.! This is the best time of year to catch that Bass of a lifetime.
One of my favorite techniques for taking Largemouths is to freeline live bait in and around the heavy cover. Wild shiners are without a doubt the best bait when fishing the River. I typically hook the shiner in the tail with a 1/0 Kahle hook, and allow the bait to run several feet up under the heaviest cover I can find.
I recommend a medium to heavy action rod with a minimum of 15 lb. test mono line. Be prepared to lose a few hooks, and yes, even a fish or two, but this technique will pay off if you have the patience to stay with it.
The most important part is keeping fresh bait on your hook. No self respecting Largemouth is going to hit a half dead shiner with no scales. With a little patience and a lot of hooks and bait, you will be landing that once in a lifetime Bass sooner than you think.
Bass fishing on the Ocklawaha River near Ocala has continued to improve over the past few weeks. Although we haven’t seen many Bass over 10 lbs. this year, several of the fish caught have been over 3 or 4 lbs., with the occasional 6 to 8 pounder.
Low water levels due to the Rodman Reservoir draw down have the Largemouths confined to the original river channel between the Kenwood and Orange Springs boat ramps, including Rodman. During the draw down all Largemouth Bass must be released. Use extreme caution if you decide to fish this stretch of the River, and be prepared for plenty of company. The drawdown is scheduled to end on March 1, and water levels back to normal by April 15th.
Pictured below are several examples of fish caught on our most recent trips.
The Largemouth Bass bite on the Ocklawaha River near Ocala has improved over the last few weeks. Although we are not catching large numbers of fish, the size has definitely improved.
On our last few trips, we’ve caught and released several Bass over 6 lbs.. Pretty good for this time of year.
The best time of day to fish remains early in the morning or late afternoon. As always, the preferred bait is wild shiners (“you’ve either got one, or you need one”).
During the summer months the Largemouths spend most of the day under some sort of cover, whether it be vegetation, downed trees, or snags. Accordingly, the best method for catching them is to take off the floats and free line the shiners under and around the structure. Expect to loose a few hooks as well as fish, but persistence will eventually pay off.
Speaking of persistence , pictured below is Jason “Cajun Red” Worth with yet another Ocklawaha Lunker caught and released on the last shiner.
Thanks to David and Liz of Fat Daddy’s Bait and Tackle Shop.