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HOW YAMAHA PRO MARK DAVIS GETS NON-AGGRESSIVE BASS TO BITE

Posted 5/27/2010

Beginning in late spring and continuing throughout the summer months, bass often exhibit two well-known characteristics: they gather in huge schools, and they abruptly stop biting at the most unexpected times. Veteran Yamaha Pro and former guide Mark Davis has found his share of bass acting like this, and over the years has learned some tricks to make them start biting again.

"Usually, fishing something erratic and fast like a big crankbait will get them started again," notes Davis, a three-time BASS® Angler of the Year and a Bassmaster Classic® winner. "Speed really seems to be the key, but your casts also have to be accurate so your lure comes right through the fish."

Davis, who recently finished eighth in a Bassmaster® Elite tournament, used this technique to catch more than 88 pounds of bass during the four-day event. He admits it's not always the best way to catch a fish, and the bass may not stay "fired up" very long once they do start biting again.

"What I do is really burn a big crankbait through the school so it grinds and digs along the bottom," continues the Yamaha pro. "I don't jerk it or stop it, but just keep the crankbait moving as fast as I can. It generally takes about half a dozen casts before a bass will bite, and usually, that's all it takes to get the school started again.

"I think it's competition between the fish that gets them biting, because the first bass you catch this way is usually a small one, and they're always the most aggressive."

Once bass in a school do start biting again, they may only bite for a few minutes. For some reason, this window of activity may be correlated to water and weather conditions, because Davis has noticed that schools become active faster and bite longer on cloudy, windy days. Conversely, they may only bite for two or three casts on extremely calm days.

"Another lure I have used successfully during times like this is a jig," Davis adds, "especially if the school is fairly shallow and they won't hit a crankbait anymore. I'll let the jig fall to the bottom, then jerk it back up with my rod so the lure literally leaps off the bottom.

"A jig, of course, looks completely different than a crankbait, and I impart this different type of action the fish haven't seen. Once you get fish biting a jig like this, you may get a longer period of activity simply because it is something different. You can try again with your crankbait once the fish are biting, but don't be surprised if they don't hit it."

The Yamaha pro also suggests leaving the school completely alone for at least an hour if your fishing time permits, then returning and fishing first with a crankbait and then following with a jig if necessary.

"During the Guntersville tournament in May, I fished the same school of bass several different times each day and had to fire them up each time," laughs Davis. "I think schools of bass in lakes that receive heavy fishing pressure, such as Guntersville, probably tend to stop biting quicker than on lakes with less pressure.

"On Lake Ouachita in Arkansas where I guided for many years, the bass did not receive nearly as much pressure, and when they did stop biting I could frequently get them started again pretty fast. If the fish were in deeper water and I had them pinpointed with my electronics, a big jigging spoon often triggered them again, probably because it was so different from either my crankbaits or jigs."

The Yamaha angler has also noticed that on lakes with lighter fishing pressure the daily solunar tables predicting the activity time periods for fish tend to be more accurate than on lakes receiving heavy pressure.

"This tells me the bass simply get tired of seeing the same lures coming through them cast after cast," concludes Davis. "Sometimes changing colors helps, but in my opinion, the action of the lure is more important, and often just the speed of your retrieve is the most important factor of all.

"Most anglers would be amazed at how often they're fishing right on top of a lot of fish that simply aren't biting, and most of the time, all it takes is a slight change in lures or lure presentation to get them started again."