When you think of Bass Fishing, you don't normally think of using lures that imitate bugs. Even when you are throwing a topwater lure for bass, you are trying to copy a skittering baitfish, a frog, or even a baby duck or rat scurrying accross the water. Rarely do you think of trying to imitate a bug. Even fly anglers often overlook insects when specifically targeting bass. But bugs can be a forgotten food source that can be exploited to trick bass into attacking your hook.
I remember as a kid, back before I became a "lure elitists" who refuses to use live bait, my favorite bait to catch fish on was a grasshopper. I would spend all morning catching a few grasshoppers, put them in a jar with holes punched in the top and then head on down to the river. They grasshoppers had a hard shield on the back of their necks, and if you were careful, you could run a gold hook just under that armor in a way that would keep the hopper alive while still securing it to the hook.
Of coarse this grasshopper set up would be rigged on light line and an ultralight rod. I wouldn't attach any weight, just the hook and the grasshopper. I would cast it out from the shore and let the live grasshopper try to jump and fly away from the water. They would just flutter, violently, on the surface until a large bluegill would come up and smack it.
The goal was to catch the biggest grasshoppers possible. The bigger the grasshopper, the bigger the fish. If you caught one of the monster grasshoppers that were about 3 or 4 inches long (maybe they wern't that big, heck I was a kid, everything seemed bigger back then.) you were almost guaranteed to skip the sunfish and catch a bass!
Skip forward 15 or 20 years. I don't use live bait anymore, I don't "waste" my time heading out in the morning to catch grasshoppers, and I am more into using lures that imitate baitfish or crawdads than a little bug on top of the water. The one exception is if I am fly fishing, I will use insect imitators, but I throw those for sunfish. I ignore one of the most productive ways of catching bass from my youth.
The topic for Every Day in May today was bugs. I sat back, sipping on my morning coffee, thinking about what I was going to write about for "bugs." My thought process was as follows: I don't use bugs to fish with any more, heck bass don't eat bugs do they? Well...the Guadalupe Bass will eat bugs sometimes, maybe I could write about that. Hmm...when was the last time I caught a Guad on a bug. Probably when I was twelve. Haha, remember when I used bugs as bait? Man the grasshoppers were the best. Wait a second, I caught largemouth, smallmouth, and Guadalupe Bass on grasshoppers. Shoot, remember last year on Lake Amistad when the bass where coming out of the water to attack the dragonflies? Bass do eat bugs, I will write about that.
Bass do eat bugs, and I will write about that. As I just mentioned, it was late July last year when I was on Lake Amistad and a school of fish started attacking the surface behind us. Thinking it was a bunch of bass attacking a school of shad, we started throwing flukes, rattletraps, and crankbaits without catching a single fish. We could see these were bass now, but couldn't get them to bite. Finally I noticed that there was a "swarm" of dragonflies buzzing around and every once in a while touching the surface. Could this be what the bass were eating? I didn't have any "dragonfly" lures, but the closest I had was a short (4 in) black senko with a neon blue tip on the tail. Pretty much the same colors and size as the dragonfly's. I took the senko and split it in half lengthwise and the cut about half an inch off the front. I rigged it weightless, cast it out into the mass of dragonflies, and as soon as it hit the water, bam...fish on. I was able to repeat this for about 15 minutes and caught about 15 bass. I didn't catch anything big during that time but I did catch a lot of fish. It was a blast.
Guadalupe bass are known for taking bugs that jump, fall, or drop into the river. That is partially why fly fishing for them can be so productive and fun. But there are times of the year that largemouth and smallmouth bass will eat bugs too. Like with the dragonflies, summertime is the best time to "bug" fish for bass. Summertime is when the swarms of grasshoppers take over here in Texas. Many of them, especially this year, are nice, fat, and juicy, critters. A great easy meal for bass if they happen to land in the lake or river. The past few weeks I have seen countless monster grasshoppers smash into my windshield or get crushed by my tires driving down the road. Maybe I should make some three inch grasshopper lure and head out to the lake this week. I am sure I will catch some bass on it.
Other related posts:
The Plight of the Guadalupe Bass
Why I Kayak Fish