Bull Shoals throws down a challenge

Thursday’s cancellation gave me another day to contemplate how I’m going to catch bass here at Bull Shoals over the next few days.

It’s going to be an interesting tournament. Everyone’s mind will be whirling over what effect yesterday’s storm will have on the fish.

It’s been very strange since we got here. The fish are a lot different than they were when we were here a year ago.

The weather is weird. We’ve had a long, cold spring and then we had a big warm up. Prior to Thursday’s cancellation, the lake temperature had come up 10 degrees. It was 51 on Monday and 61 Wednesday. That’s radical.

But these fish want to spawn. In a matter of two days, they went from prespawn to spawn.

You’d think the fishing would be good because the lake was so clear. On the lower end I could see down to 20 feet or more and down to 10 feet on the upper end.

But this storm and heavy rain could change that. We will find out today.

I’m still amazed at how much I learn about the spawn every year.

For example, these fish have been really spooky. Several could be seen cruising down the bank and some on beds. Those early bedders can be easy to catch.

But, here, when you cast to them with 6-pound line and finesse bait, they run off. It takes several minutes for them to come back, and then they spook again.

Now that’s some skittish fish. They know they need to be spawning but they seem scared to be too shallow.

It’s different at both ends of the lake. The bass were spawning on the upper end where it was warmer; in the deeper, colder lower end, they were in prespawn.

I spent a lot of time looking at areas trying to figure out ways to catch them, and it still has me befuddled.

One fish will swim 10 feet to eat the bait while another will spook. You just have to keep casting and looking.

Another challenge is trying to judge the size of the catchable fish you see in that deeper water. The bass have to be 15 inches here, and it’s not easy to judge when they are that deep.

Under these conditions, you have to think like a hunter. Keep the sun at your back and make long casts with fluorocarbon line. If you can make the cast without the fish seeing you, you stand a better chance of making them react.

I’ve also experimented with different lenses on my Oakley sunglasses, and I’ve found that, depending on the sun and clouds, either tungsten iridium or shallow blue have worked best. Ordinarily, anything amber colored works well.

The traditional way to fish spawners is to sit out deep and throw shallow, but I’m going to try to sit shallow and throw deep. I’m thinking that I’ll be less visible to the fish; and by bringing the bait from deep to shallow, the bass will be less spooky.

I look for this tournament to be tough and that’s OK with me. I pride myself in being able to make the right adjustments under tough conditions, so let the battle begin!

Remember, it’s all about the attitude.