My mind took a turn toward the largemouth bass on Saturday when I strolled the shore of Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. I was carrying my camera and setting up a shot of a wedding party with Lake Harriet in the background.
I took just a brief moment to scan the now-weedy waters and think of upcoming bass-fishing trips. I have never fished Harriet, but spend a good deal of time on three neighboring lakes — Calhoun, Lake of the Isles and Cedar. Harriet intrigues me and I would really like to try it this summer. It has muskies and walleyes and some people say it has some nice bass in it.
I intend to find out first hand. One positive thing is it doesn’t seem to get much pressure for bass. That’s always a good thing and generally makes a lake appealing to me. Also, the lake seems a lot like Calhoun in terms of depth, water quality and weed growth. It is infested with eurasian watermilfoil, just like Calhoun and the others. Although some folks, especially sailing enthusiasts and swimmers, consider milfoil a curse, it’s actually great for bass. As many anglers know, bass love cover, especially weeds, and milfoil offers plenty of it. Therefore, you can often find lots of bass in milfoil, especially bigger ones.
That said, it is also well documented that milfoil can be very difficult and frustrating to fish. I have found this to be true, but with the right tackle and technique, milfoil can be cracked. I have caught nice bass on the city lakes, all the way up to 21 inches. All were caught in and around milfoil. Yes, the fishing can be tedious and, often, a slower and deeper presentation is most effective. Yet, the rewards can be great. I look forward to a great summer of fishing bass. As strange as this sounds, my favorite and best time to fish for bass is July and August. The fish are deeper, but they bite better and more consistently than many people realize.
Just ask the tournament pros. Years ago, some told me they bring in their heaviest catches in July and August. I remember a two-day tournament in late July on Lake Minnetonka when a pair of bass anglers won with about 70 pounds. For some people, that’s a summer’s worth. The interesting thing is, some of the other teams came in with a total weight of more than 60 pounds. That doesn’t sound like dog days to me!
Here’s the best part — because of the outboard motor ban on the city lakes and the belief by many that the fishing slows in July and August, I often have some of the spots I fish, if not the whole lake, to myself. That’s hard to beat. I often have a big grin on my face when I land a nice bass and look around to see no other fishing boats in sight. Usually, the ones I do see are manned by muskie anglers, which is just fine with me. In fact, I do hook and occasionally land a muskie while fishing for bass. So much the better.
As of right now, I’m planning on my annual Fourth-of-July outing with my friend Dave. It’s an annual tradition that we both look forward to. Dave shares my passion for bass and he really likes to find new spots and try new techniques for bass. We talked yesterday and are making our plans for the Fourth. If we go nice and early, we won’t have trouble finding a parking spot, which is one problem you can run into on Calhoun, especially on weekends and holidays. There is only street parking near the boat landing and the spots can fill up fast. That’s why I often go on weekdays, when the parking is usually easier.
Now that the weather is finally heating up, the bass soon will establish their summer patterns, which involves moving out to the deeper weedlines. They’ll stay there all summer and well into the fall. I’ll tie on jigs and plastics and have at it. I can’t wait ’til my first bite — and first bass aerial show — of the summer!