John's Journal...

The Sport of Bassing Swamp Holes

Day 2: John E. Phillips’ First Swamp-Hole Encounter with Big Bass

Editor’s Note: You may think the South is the only section of the United States with swamps, but particularly after the flooding of 2011, many-new oxbows and swamp holes have been created. Although most bass lakes and rivers are crowded across the country, when you fish swamp holes for bass, you’ll rarely see other fishermen, and the bass often will top 8 pounds. These unnoticed waters can be found most anywhere.

Click for Larger ViewMy 3-inch plug twitched close to the base of a hollow cypress tree, and a big swirl appeared out of a hole in it. As the water splashed, the plug disappeared. Following my line, I ran as fast as I could for the heavy cover. I knew that if I could intercept that bass before he reached the bushes, I could land it. If not, even my 17-pound-test line might not be strong-enough to haul the bass out. However, I knew that landing that bass didn’t totally depend on my equipment, the strength of my line or the hook’s ability to hold the bass but rather on how fast I moved my feet, and how soon I could determine the escape route of that landlocked lunker. lick for Largerr ViewI raced for a small treetop right behind the bass’s swirling fins, but the bass got there ahead of me. The bass twisted around a twig, and I nearly lost it. But I finally lipped the 5 pounder before it broke-free.

I found out about this little-known, underfished part of the bassing world by accident. On a spring turkey hunt, I was moving along the edge of a dead-water ditch when I noticed large swirls in the flooded timber as I passed. I decided to investigate the fishing possibilities there in the summer. Some local residents told me these swamp holes are sometimes cut-off sloughs from major river systems. “When the river gets-up, bass, bream, crappie and catfish move into these depressions to get out of the raging current,” an old-timer told me. “Then when the water goes-down, the fish are stranded.” When asked about the chances of getting a boat into these backwoods places, he said, “Most of us just wade-fish the sloughs and do pretty well.” Click for Larger ViewAfter convincing a friend that swamp-hole fishing might be the key to a wall-sized bass as well as escape from the overcrowded, major impoundments, I put-on my running gear (blue jeans, t-shirt and old tennis shoes) and headed for the woods with my fishing buddy.

We learned the best method for approaching the bass in these holes was to move slowly through the knee-deep water. The fewer the ripples we made, the closer we could get to the bass before starting to cast. Click for Larger ViewSometimes flipping a plug 4 feet in front of us as we waded produced a bass at the rod’s tip. The first problem we encountered was losing the bass to the structure after it had been hooked. A bass invariably would head for heavy cover when hooked. Not knowing how to fish swamp holes full of heavy cover at that time, we came-away with some tall tales but little else. But after busting tackle, losing bass and making all the mistakes inherent in learning new methods, we came up with techniques for fishing swamp holes that will pay-off for you this summer.

Tomorrow: Using the L.J. Brasher Technique and the Slip-and-Run Method of Fishing for Bass in Swamp Holes

Check back each day this week for more about "The Sport of Bassing Swamp Holes "

Day 1: Searching for Swamp Holes and Navigating Through Them
Day 2: John E. Phillips’ First Swamp-Hole Encounter with Big Bass
Day 3: Using the L.J. Brasher Technique and the Slip-and-Run Method of Fishing for Bass in Swamp Holes
Day 4: How to Fish for Swamp Hole Bass and Stay Dry
Day 5: Advantages of Swamp Fishing for Bass

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Entry 620, Day 2