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Hot Off the Press

When conditions change, so must fishing tactics


Jackie Thompson of Eufaula has fished and guided onWhen Conditions Change so Must Fishing Tactics Lake Eufaula on the Alabama/Georgia border for more than 40 years. He spends 120 to 150 days on the water each year. This vast experience has given him keen observation abilities and enabled him to pick up quickly on changing conditions to adapt his fishing tactics to catch bass.

Jackie Thompson says that at the end of August and the first of September, two patterns will produce bass on Lake Eufaula. "Because Lake Eufaula has a lot of grass in it, fishermen can get a really great top-water bite going for the first couple of hours in the morning and the last few hours in the afternoon. Then, after the top-water bite dies, fishing ledges and drop-offs really will pay off."

Early in the morning, Thompson enjoys fishing grass mats and hydrilla beds with a Spike-It Bog Frog on 20-pound-test Mossy Oak Classic line.

Thompson first looks for grass mats close to deep water to fish.

"The bass want easy access from the shade of the grass mats to the deeper water as the temperature in the day starts to heat up," Thompson explains. "If I can find a grass bed on a flat with a 10-foot ditch running beside or close to the grass bed or a creek channel only 6 to 10 feet from the grass bed, I know I've got a great place to fish the frog."

Thompson doesn't start fishing the grass mat immediately. He stays away from the mat by using his trolling motor for 10 to 15 minutes and watches what's happening. He feels that often people who fish grass mats start fishing before they know where to fish. Thompson looks at the edge of the grass mat to see if he can spot shad flipping on the edge of the mat or see movement under the mat where bass may be chasing shad or other baitfish.

"If you watch a grass mat and don't see any movement under or on the edge of the grass, more than likely, you won't catch any bass there," Thompson says. "But, last week I pulled up to a grass mat to watch it. I didn't see anything for the first 10 minutes. Just as I was about to crank my big engine, I spotted one shad flipping on the surface on the edge of the grass. I picked up my frog and started catching bass like they were a blue light special at K-Mart."

When Thompson saw a shad skip on the outer edge of the grass, he cast to the surface of the grass and worked the frog out to the edge of the grass, which was when the bass blew up on the bait.

"I let the frog sit still for about a five-count," Thompson explains. "Then I moved it quickly with a chugging action back toward the boat. I like a black Bog Frog with a pearl belly right at daylight, and then as the day lightens up, I like the Blood Fusion Bog Frog."

Thompson set the hook hard and depended on the strength of his line to hook the bass and get the fish out of the grass and into the boat. The bass that Thompson and his clients caught last week weighed 2- to 4-pounds each, and they took 14 bass from that one spot in the grass.

On Thursday, we'll learn what to do when the top-water bite ends at this time of the year.

Aug. 23, 2005