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Monday, June 13, 2011

PA Bass Fishing is about to start up!

And, with the opening of Pennsylvania's regular bass season this Saturday, there is no better time to take the advice of the all-time king of the Bass Anglers Sportsmen's Society tournament and money winner.
Last year, VanDam appeared at the Greater Philadelphia Sport and Outdoor Show for a series of seminars. At the time, much of Eastern Pennsylvania was still digging out from yet another snowstorm, but inside the Greater Philadelphia Convention Center, the topic for the day was how to achieve hot-weather success by cranking for bass.
With this year's early summer-like weather following what seemed to be a month of steady rain in May, VanDam's tips on how to use crankbaits to their best advantage to catch hot-weather bass can be used early in the season. Clearly, the bass have moved from their spawning beds in the shallows and are looking to feed in deeper water.
"I like to use crankbaits and mix and match my rate of retrieve to explore different depths until I find fish," VanDam said. "When fishing a lipless shad, I want it to dive deep and skim along the top of submerged weeds.
"By using an aggressive, fast retrieve, I'm looking to attract big fish and trigger aggressive strikes. That's why I want to be down at least 10 feet or more."
For VanDam, big fish equate to big paydays on the BASS tournament circuit, and for recreational anglers they can represent that fish of a lifetime everyone hopes to catch. Technique alone, however, will not represent success without taking into consideration conditions and bait color.
Fly fishermen know they are wasting their time unless they match the hatch. This is, fishing a fly that resembles the food of their target species.
"No matter what time of the year I'm fishing, I'm concerned about bait color," VanDam said. "What influences my selection is water clarity and the natural food source for the bass.
"If bass are feeding on shad, my first choice of bait color is pear or silver, and I'll also use chartreuse or other bright colors in cloudy water. If the bass are feeding on bluegills or other small fish, I'll fish dark colors like brown, blue and green."
While VanDam is well known for his success with crankbaits, spinnerbaits are also effective when fishing drop-offs and deep water over weeds. Even in clear water, smallmouth bass just seem to be attracted to bright colors such as chartreuse, white, yellow, orange and green.
For those who prefer to go "soft" in their approach to lure summer-time bass from the depths, VanDam said one of his favorite ways to fish soft baits is off shallow flats off a point where the bottom gradually drops to depths of as much as 30 feet. It is important to use the current in one's favor for a natural presentation, and weedless presentations such as a Carolina rig and a sliding sinker will be effective in weeds and rocks.
Two major advantages of fishing soft baits are the variety of colors available in both solid and flake patterns, and they can be presented like hard baits. Depending on how soft baits are rigged, they can be fished deep in weed beds, cranked deep like hard baits or skimmed across the water like surface baits.
No matter what the calendar reads, warm weather turns up the action for top-water fishing - especially the bites at sunrise and sunset. And while poppers and surface lures provide plenty of action, nothing compares to taking a bass on the surface with a plastic frog rigged weedless.
An important item for anglers to remember is the new Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission regulation this year dealing with catch-and-release only bass fishing on portions of the Susquehanna and Juniata Rivers. Affected is the 98-mile stretch of the Susquehanna from the inflatable dam in Sunbury to the Holtwood Dam in York County and the 32-mile stretch on the Juniata from the Route 75 Bridge at Port Royal to the mouth of the river at Duncannon.

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