In 1992, the Mississippi state-record largemouth bass caught out of Natchez State Park Lake weighed a little more than 18 pounds. Known for homing big bass, and with March the prime time when the big bass go to the beds, Natchez State Park Lake is the best place to catch a trophy bass. Two patterns will pay off in trophy bass there this month.

The primary pattern

Sight-fishing for female bass on the nest will produce big bass this month. But only take a picture, and then release the bass back into the water as quickly as possible. We don't want to kill any of these trophy females.

When I go to a lake to sight-fish for bass, I'll generally circle the lake and search for the white or the light-colored spots, usually on points and flats and in pockets, indicating a bass bed exists in that location.

Since the lake's only 240 acres, you can make the first pass around it fairly quickly. Then when you get ready to fish the places you've spotted, you usually can fish every bed you want to in one day.

Oftentimes as you move around the lake searching for bedding bass, you'll spook the bass in shallow water and see them swimming away. Identify the location of the bed, and mark its position. Return to that same spot 15 to 20 minutes later, and fish for bass. Keep your boat well away from the bass area, make extremely-long casts, and try to land your lure on the opposite side of the bed. I always wear polarized glasses to see the beds and the bass without having to deal with the glare from the water.

When I'm sight fishing, I'll be fishing a chartreuse or a green-pumpkin-colored Mann's HardNose Mosquito Hawk on 17-pound-test Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon Line. The chartreuse color enables me to see the bait as I move it along the bottom and to spot the bass's reaction to the bait. If the water's dingy, or I have to cast far into a spot where I can't watch the bait, I'll use green pumpkin.

When I make my cast, I want to land the lure well past the bed to keep from spooking the bass. Then I'll slowly hop, swim or reel the bait to the bass' bed and kill the bait, so it falls motionlessly into the bed. Generally you'll get a bite instantly, but the first bass you catch will be the male, which is smaller than the female bass. If I don't get a bite quickly, I'll dead-stick the bait by letting the Mosquito Hawk sit motionless for about 1 minute. I'll shake the line, causing the bait to quiver in the bed, and pull it all the way through the bed. Once the lure's out and away from the bed, I'll reel-in the Mosquito Hawk.

I'll make repeated casts to this same bed, until I get a bite or decide that the bass aren't biting that day. Next, I'll very quietly move closer to the bed to see if the bass are on the bed. If I see them, I'll change to a chartreuse-colored bait and watch the bait and the bass' reaction to it.

I'll have a really-good chance of catching that bass. Often the bass will pick-up the bait and blow it out of the bed, which means I need to quickly set the hook as soon as I see the bass take the bait into its mouth.

If I miss the bass and fail to set the hook, I'll cast back to the same bass. Many times the bass will pick-up the bait quicker the second time I cast to it than the first time. Each time a bass picks up the bait and doesn't get hooked, that bass will become more aggressive on the next cast.

With this type of fishing, you'll catch a number of small male bass weighing up to about 2-1/2-pounds, but you also may catch a big female trophy bass. Since this small lake homes number of big bass, if you choose the right day to fish, you should be able to catch several bass that weigh from 3- to 10-pounds each.

The Second Pattern

I'll also fish a large swim bait, like the 3:16 Lure Company Mission Fish swim bait. I prefer to fish the 7-inch bait in the bluegill color because it's Texas-rigged. I can fish it around grass, wood or any type of cover without getting hung-up.

I cast the Mission Fish swim bait past the bed, swim it up to the bed and then let it dive into the bed. This lure has a weight in the nose and dives nose-first toward the bottom when you kill it. The line goes through the nose of the fish. I use a No. 10 hook to tie on the line and Texas-rig the bait.

When the big swim bait gets into the bed, it stands-up nose-first like a bluegill trying to eat the bass's eggs. Those big female bass can't stand seeing that. So, most of the strikes will come as soon as you kill the swim bait, and it starts diving nose-first into the bed.

At Natchez State Park Lake, I'm primarily fishing for trophy bass that weigh 5 pounds or more. To catch trophy-sized bass in March, Natchez State Park Lake is the best place for you.