Freshwater: Shoreline Reservoir Largemouth - The Fisherman

Freshwater: Shoreline Reservoir Largemouth

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The author with the big largemouth he hooked in about 25 feet of water from a reservoir shoreline.

If you can access that local reservoir with rod and reel, do so!

Reservoirs offer shore-based anglers a lot of ground to cover. Most large lakes have residential shorelines that greatly limit or rule out such opportunities. Gamefish besides largemouth – pike species, salmonid species, smallmouth, hybrid stripers, and even walleye – get caught from the banks of reservoirs, but during the summer months, even smallmouth bass might not be as available as largemouth. Smallies tend to be out there roving while the largemouth will more likely hang close to the edge.

You can cast a lot of structure from shore. A trail might lead you to brush and weeds on shallow flats. Other trails might lead to timber fields that produce especially early and late in the day while throwing topwater plugs on heavier braid which allows you to wrestle big bass away from the wood. Other spots put drop-offs right at your feet, and during hot afternoons, largemouth will be on the bottom 30 feet down. A Texas or Carolina rigged worm is a good way to go.

Early in the evening one late June, my son and I each brought a rod along; my wife and our black Labrador came with us, and we lay out towels to relax beside the water until sunset. I cast my 8-inch, unweighted traditional-style worm as far as I could, letting it sink about 25 feet down. Then I lay back and forgot about it. When I checked on my line 10 minutes later, I saw it moving. I reeled in the little slack, set the hook, and a few moments later, a monstrous bass leapt 2 feet above the reservoir’s calm surface. I fought it on 6-pound test, ogling at its size visible in clear water as I got it in close.

The tie loop of the hook visible safely outside the mouth, apparently the bass had picked up the worm a moment before I saw the moving line—took it dead-sticked. I had to come down out of the dream-like quality of hooking the biggest bass of my life by such a casual effort. I felt afraid the whole experience would feel unreal. I measured the bass carefully at 23-1/4 inches, but I had no scale to weigh it. A chunky one, I estimated 7-1/2pounds. Length-to-weight conversion charts say an ounce or two more. My son took photos quickly so we could get the fish safely back in the water. It went proudly on its way.

That wasn’t the only big bass I’ve caught from shore at a reservoir.  Decades ago, I fished a deep reservoir point in November with a friend, when he caught one 24 inches long.

I like to fish small lakes from a squareback canoe, but except for one private water body I never break the 19-inch mark. I seem to catch one 18 inches or better every time out, but the big ones over 20 inches don’t come; they do from reservoirs!  Boating wouldn’t give you every advantage, but by walking the bank instead, you not only see spots in close better than by boat, you can often get into position to cast in a less obtrusive way.

I once put my boots at the edge of a little pocket cove where I noticed pollen and stuff on the surface. I understood immediately that it potentially drew baitfish. No matter how close I could have gotten to it by boat, I probably never would have seen the stuff. With my boots planted in place, I fished the spot thoroughly with a plastic worm, catching three largemouth.

Another spot required multiple visits before I discovered why it was productive. From a boat, forget it. The water clear, when the level came down a bit, I saw a submerged pipe feeds water from a nearby pond. The reservoir’s water temperature remained significantly cooler than the pond’s, at least into June. Warmer water from the pipe attracts bass. It will continue to attract me, too.

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