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John's Journal... Entry 185, Day 1


Tournament Tactics for Bad-Weather Bass

EDITOR'S NOTE: Our special guest today is Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, the 1999 B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year and 2001 BASSMaster's Classic champion.

QUESTION: Kevin, can you give me some tactics for tournament fishing in bad weather?
ANSWER: When you fish bass tournaments, you have to fish regardless of the weather and water conditions. I've caught plenty of nice bass on days I ordinarily wouldn't have fished if I hadn't had to fish a tournament. The first day a cold front or a storm front hits can be an exceptionally good day to catch plenty of bass. Although the air temperature may have dropped dramatically, the water temperature only may have fallen slightly. That slight change in water temperature often will cause bass to go on a feeding spree.

The day a front hits, I want to locate as many big schools of bass as I can, as fast as I can. I'll cast the deep-running Strike King crankbait. I'll fish this lure along rocky banks or steep drop-offs with some wave action that forces the fish into the bank. During a temperature change, even if the temperature drops, the big bass will move out of deep water and begin to chase shad, possibly to feed up for those cold-weather conditions. By covering as much water as possible on the day the front moves through an area, I usually can locate the places holding the most and the biggest bass.

To keep my bait in the bass' strike zone for the longest time, I'll cast parallel to the bank. If the water has stain in it, the bass generally will hold 4- to 8-feet deep. But in clear water, you may find the bass from 10- to 15-feet deep. I prefer to fish 8- to 10-pound test Trilene line and crankbaits with tight wobbles and no rattles. These kinds of lures can slow your retrieve down, but the bait still will wiggle quite a bit as it comes through the water. Sometimes I'll add weight to a crankbait to allow me to crawl it along the bottom very slowly. On other days, the bass may like to take a bait with a fast retrieve, stop, fast retrieve, stop type of presentation. Remember that at this time of year, crayfish are the bass' primary diet. I want to fish my crankbaits in the browns, reds or even black to look more like the crayfish on which the bass will feed. Or, I'll use shad-colored crankbaits. If you're fishing a lake with no rocky banks or sheer rock bluffs, then you can use this crankbait technique on creek or river channels in bad weather.




Check back each day this week for more about BAD WEATHER FISHING TACTICS ...

Day 1 - Tournament Tactics for Bad-Weather Bass
Day 2 - The Day After the Front Hits
Day 3 - VanDam's Secret Weapon
Day 4 - The Deadliest Tactic of All
Day 5 - More On Trolling

John's Journal