Opening Day: A Fun Start to the 2020 Bass Season

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Well, with Bass season now in full swing for 2020, the long wait through another cold, Canadian winter is all but a memory. With the pandemic hitting us square in the ass, a day on the water during the warmer months is a relief. I went out for both the Ontario Zone 17 and 15 openers, and man did it feel good to set some hooks.

Zone 17 opened on June 20th. I use this first date as a “soft opener”—nothing too serious, just something to get the cobwebs out of my melon and make sure all the rods and reels were functioning properly.

The town of Bewdley is a very fishing oriented place that is not too far from the GTA

I went to Rice Lake because of its close access. Upon arrival in the town of Bewdley, I couldn’t believe the line up of vehicles towing boats at the launch. I soon found out that a bass club from Toronto was having a “COVID-friendly” hands-off event. (I didn’t get the club name nor the results.)

First Casts of the Bass Season

I figured I’d throw a topwater bait just to see if it was happening and, of course, for the fun factor. I quickly missed a hit and followed that up with a decent fish that flipped off the treble hook at the side of the boat. Not to worry—it was a good start. Unfortunately, since the lineup put close to an hour delay on my day, the sun popped up and the topwater bite slowed down.

On To Plastics

One of my absolute favourite ways of catching any bass is on plastic baits. I think it’s about the hook set—feeling the pick-up, reeling down and drilling the hook home while having the bend of the rod “bottom out”. If I had a plastic bait choice, it would be beaver-style baits. But soft stickbaits, worms, creatures, etc. all have a close place to my heart. If you told me I could only bass fish one way for the rest of all time, I would choose plastics. Since that’s hypothetical, however, I’ll load the boat with everything known to bass anglers.

The original beaver style bait. It will still hold its own against all newcomers

With a beaver-style bait tied on, I started pitching and casting weed pockets. Again, it didn’t take long to connect. This was a better quality fish but far from big—just a nice way to start the plastic-throwing season. After hitting a massive amount of weedbeds and popping a couple of additional little Largemouth, I made another move.

A half-decent fish on a Beaver style bait rigged Texas-style.

Working Hard on a Fish (or Two)

I stuck with my weed-hole, beaver pattern, but it was slowing down (much like the topwater). I came upon a huge fry-ball of Largemouth and instinctively knew a fish would be close by. Sure enough, he showed himself (I think there may have been two there, but I never saw them together).

Sight fishing is a great way to learn about fish behaviour for that day. I started by throwing my beaver to and around that fish, but nothing was happening. Next, I threw a weedless rigged tube in there, thinking it was a sure thing. I did get bit, but it was a weird bite. Almost panfish-like, but not quite. I figured I’d set the hook anyway but came up empty. 

Next was a weighted Neko rig (see my previous blog about this rig). I tied up a four-inch finesse Neko worm and inserted the smallest nose-weight that I had. I quickly determined it was way too heavy. By watching a fish’s reactions to various presentations, often, an angler can ultimately figure out how to catch a single fish. This fish blatantly ignored my Neko rig. 

As a last resort, I pulled the nail weight out of the worm and essentially now had a four-inch wacky rig. The slow fall of that small worm was enough to drive that bass crazy—crazy enough to strike. Thankfully, I had a GoPro strapped to my chest to capture some of the action. (See this video on the next page!)

I stuck with the wacky rig for the remainder of the day and ultimately caught a few more—lots of fun and a good dusting off of the cobwebs day. I pulled out early, anticipating all the tournament boys waiting at the launch. Twice in one day would be a bit much for me.

My little 4” unweighted wacky did the trick

Continue to Page 2 for more information on Pete’s Opening Day including specifics on what baits/presentations worked the best—and over twenty minutes of footage from his day! 

Pete Bowman

Pete, one of the most revered and popular anglers in the nation, has a tremendous love for the game… the fishing game. Pete’s vast knowledge of angling and ability to articulate it to audiences worldwide has endeared him to his fans who still see Pete as just “ONE OF THE BOYS”. Pete is also an accomplished and published outdoor writer and photographer as well as a sought-after speaker. In 2012 another of Pete’s ultimate fishing career highlights occurred when he was inducted into the Canadian Angler Hall Of Fame, something he never thought would happen. A Canadian fishing icon.

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