Finding time to hit my local largemouth waters is more than just a shot at landing a big ol' bucketmouth; it's an opportunity to sharpen my skills for the upcoming Kayak Bass Fishing Open and Invitational in South Carolina! I have been counting down the days until I get to share the Santee Cooper lakes with some of the best kayak bass fishermen in the country for an intense tournament. Besides all of that, I have been itching to get out since I just received my new Werner “Kalliste” paddle in the mail. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that some of the best bass fishing in this area occurs in these cold and dismal months.
My first of the two outings was on a Friday afternoon at my favorite lake in Hampton Roads with Joe Underwood (PhillyJoe). This time of year can be tough yet very productive when you’re chasing largemouth bass. The spawn is right around the corner even though the water is still pretty cold. These fish will feed throughout the day if you can find the right pattern. Joe and I did manage to catch fish even in tough conditions. I landed fish on a lipless crankbait and a suspending Rapala “Husky Jerk”. The key was retrieving the lures as slow as possible while still producing some action and vibration. Joe was also able to entice a nice 19" bass with an ultra slow presentation.
The next time out I joined friend and fellow Ocean Kayak/Werner Paddles pro staffer Rob Choi. This day was not only cold, but windy! We also met up with fellow Werner Team paddler Drew Camp and his dad Chip Camp, who were already on the water toughing out the elements. It took some time, but I finally got on the board with a chunky 17". I changed up tactics once the sun started to peek out, hoping that the bite might pick up a little. It didn't take long to get a nice 18 1/2" on a chartreuse Booyah spinnerbait. Hmm, maybe they’re starting to get a little hungry...
My little hunch was right. These fish finally decided to came out and play. The best part was the bass kept getting bigger and bigger. I landed two more fish as I made my way back to the launch. In 15 minutes I caught a couple fatties that were 20 1/4" and 21".
Photo Credit: Rob Choi
Even though the water temperature is in the 40s, you can still find those feeding windows where the bass are aggressive. The key is to take it slow and be patient. It can be hard to slow roll a spinnerbait without burning it in, or retrieving your jerkbait or crankbait as slow as it can go. If you can remain positive, persistent, and patient, you just may be rewarded with a cold water hawg!
See ya on the water!
About the Author: Richie Bekolay is diehard kayak fisherman and outdoorsman that resides in Newport News, Virginia. Originally from southeastern Wisconsin, his fishing roots started very early in life as he spent most of his free time pursuing the popular freshwater species with his true passion being the mighty musky. Currently serving in the Air Force, Richie has expanded his skill set from the sweet water to the salt of the Chesapeake Bay. He’s an accomplished tournament angler with most notably a 1st place win for the “Slam” division in the 2012 Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association Kayak Fish For Charity Tournament (3rd largest kayak fishing event in the country) as well as top 10 finishes in 2013 Kayak Bass Fishing Open and the 2012 IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Atlantic Division Angler of the Year race. Richie is also a prostaff member with Ocean Kayak, Werner Paddles, Columbia, and a HOOK1 Crew Member. Don't be surprised if you're on the water or at an outdoors event and run into him and his "Cheesehead" accent. You can follow his fish tales through his blog; Hook, Line, & Sinker at hookline-sinker.net.