Going Large----------------\\------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------By Derrick Kirkpatrick and Kierran Broatch
Targeting water that many shore-bound anglers would neglect or overlook. Fishing spots knowing that you are there for that one bump. Casting and retrieving for hours to no avail, yet still having confidence that your hit could come at any moment. And shaking it off when you go home fishless. This should be the mindset of the angler who regularly plies trophy bass habitat.
These were two of three bass taken in one night from a big fish spot. All three bass were 20 lbs or better. The bass pictured on the right had an injured back. My guess is that the injury was from a boga grip. Gripping tools are fine when used properly but try not to hang a fish vertically from one.
So you have a few spots that cough up keeper-sized bass, with the occasional above average one mixed in. But how many 20-plus-pound fish do these locations yield collectively throughout a season? If your answer is low, you should consider seeking out new haunts. Big fish spots are labeled that way because they are reliable. Trophy bass return to these areas not by accident.
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One of the keys to success in the surf is knowing where your quarry feeds. After all, if you don’t know where big fish hunt, then you’re not hunting for big fish. Current and structure are the main ingredients in the big fish recipe. Current brings their food to them like a conveyer belt, as the bass hold by structure ready to pounce on it. Factors like bait presence, wind direction, tidal stage, barometric pressure, time of year, and moon phase also come into the equation. Even luck plays a role, but you can be in right place, at the right time, more often, by doing your homework.
Classic examples of current and structure are Rhode Island’s three breach ways. Although they are not everyone’s favorite place to fish because of their occasional circus atmosphere, they do consistently attract trophy striped bass. Think of those salt ponds as refrigerators full of bait, emptying out into the Atlantic with every tidal exchange. It may be worth your time to suck it up, play nice and be part of the rotation at the ends of these breach ways. If you seek solitude, these well-known locations are not for you, unless you fish deep-night tides and nasty conditions. Fair-weather anglers won’t go out then, but the fish certainly don’t mind. Always have a fish-landing zone in mind on these rocks. Wear Korkers and watch your step too. Fly rodders can score here as well standing on the breachway rocks and casting to the inside and outside of the breachway.
How does one locate big fish spots? Good students of this sport use the latest technology, reconnaissance, networking, and publications to give them an edge. The most obvious, the Internet, can be a double-edged sword. Yes, many a spot have been burned to the masses on public fishing forums. However, many a spot have also been revealed to the saltwater angler studying satellite photos. Scouting in daylight during the lowest tides exposes structure that you can fish over during high water. Joining fishing clubs, attending seminars, listening to sharpies, hanging out in respected fly and tackle shops will cut the learning curve. Scouring books, magazines and articles, old and new, for every available piece of information is only helping your cause. A local legend once mentioned that loose lips sink ships. If someone is kind enough to share a spot with you, respect this. If you want to share it with someone else, ask first. Anglers are protective over their stomping grounds; for good reason too. Much hard work and effort goes into locating these big fish spots. Sometimes the best fishing areas are also the most difficult to access. It only takes one clown to ruin it for everybody else.
Arron Blumenthol with a 30 lb class bass taken at one of my big fish spots. Arron put in a few fishless nights before moving this bass but persistance payed off.
If you truly are interested in hunting trophy bass, find areas with both current and structure. Stick with them and they will treat you well. It takes years to acquire a solid rotation of big fish spots. But the mentality discussed above should help speed up the process. We will leave you with one last thought. This comes from Mike Everon himself, better known in surfcasting circles as “Iron Mike”. In a conversation a few years back, Mike said “Get a wetsuit and equipment that can handle being submerged. Plant yourself on a rock 30-yards out and cast parallel to the shore.” Keep in mind that this came from an angler who scored two 50-pound bass in one night last season. Now go get yours…
Iron Mike Everin with a 60 lber.