Nothing’s more exciting than watching a big bass blow up on a topwater lure — whether I catch the bass or not.
And Ross Barnett Reservoir is one of my favorite places to fish for bass in August and watch their aerial displays.
It’s not a deep lake, and the only current generally is on its north end above the Highway 43 bridge.
And Ross Barnett doesn’t have much cover, except for lily pads — which is where bass, bluegills and most of the baitfish concentrate in August.
This section of the lake has the Pearl River flowing into it and features some productive creek mouths. The lily pads grow out to the edge of the river channel, where the bass will be.
Fishing until 8 a.m.
I’ll have seven rods rigged on my casting deck. At first light, I’ll fish white and black buzzbaits, and let the bass tell me which one they want.
Above the creek mouths, buzzbaits create enough commotion on the surface to pull bass up from the river channel or the edges of the lily pads.
I’ll use 30-pound braided line on a 7-foot-3-inch medium-heavy Team Lew’s rod with a 7.5:1 Team Lew’s reel.
I’ll also have a white Mann’s Super Frog, a black Mann’s Super Frog, and a walking bait like a Zara Spook rigged and ready to go.
At the mouths of the creeks, I’ll fish the Zara Spook, whether I see any bass schooling on the surface or not, since the Zara Spook will pull a school of bass to the surface.
Although schooling bass generally weigh 3 pounds or less, a bigger bass might be traveling with that school.
I fish the Spook on a 6-foot-10-inch medium-heavy Team Lew’s rod with a 7.5:1 Team Lew’s reel and 20-poundWhite Peacock fluorocarbon in any drainages going into the river channel.
If I spot bass busting the surface, I’ll put down the buzzbaits and the frogs, and start working the Spook.
Frogging the bright light
I’m still searching for schooling bass. The northern portion of the lake homes many spotted bass.
As the sun climbs higher, the bass tend to move farther into the lily pads, often into really-shallow water.
Generally, I’ll fish a white frog on sunny days and the black frog on overcast, cloudy or rainy days.
But I’ll cast both colors and, by the number of bites I get, I let the fish decide the color they prefer.
I’ll fish the frog with 65-pound braid on a 7-foot-6-inch medium-heavy action Team Lew’s rod, and the same 7.5:1 that I’ve used for the buzzbait and the Spook.
I’ll concentrate on lily pads 100 yards north and south of creek and drainage openings that flow into the river channel. Usually, the pads on the river channel ledge will be in 8 to 10 feet of water.
I’ll make long casts to get as close as I can to the shore in that 2 to 3 feet of water, because the bass and the baitfish will be pulling away from bright light on the edges of the pads and moving to the dark water.
To find bass in the pads, be as quiet as possible and listen for bluegills smacking as they feed under the lily pads, since bass feed on bluegills and other baitfish. If you’re not hearing that smacking sound, you might not catch very many bass.
I’ll walk the frog like a Zara Spook over the lily pads. When I come to an opening, I’ll let the frog sit still for a few seconds.
If I spot movement in the pads, I’ll throw the frog a little past where I see the movement — generally the bass hitting the stems — and start retrieving it.
August bass are somewhat dormant. I’ll make repeated casts with my frog to the place where I’ve seen the pads moving.
At this time of year, you may have to force a bass to bite by aggravating it.
When you’re fishing a rubber frog, you’ll miss as many — if not more — bass than you catch. Once a bass blows up on the frog, I have to fight myself to not set the hook until I see the bass start pulling my line under the pads.
Then I set the hook really hard. I know I’ve only got a split second to get that bass’ head turned toward the surface and keep it from wrapping my line around the stems.
I’ll have to use my trolling motor to go into the pads if the bass is hung up.
Pitching jigs is my follow-up tactic when a bass misses a frog.
The last two rods on my casting deck have a black-and-blue jig with a matching crawfish trailer and a green pumpkin jig with matching crawfish trailer.
As quickly possible after a bass misses my frog, I’ll grab one of those rods and flip that jig right into the hole where the bass has blown up.
If the bass doesn’t take the jig on the initial drop, I’ll flip the jig all around that area. Bass usually don’t leave an area where they’ve blown up on a frog, so if you saturate the place by flipping both colors of jigs you have a good chance of catching it.
I use the same rod, reel and line combination to flip jigs that I have with the frog.
In a day of August bass fishing on Ross Barnett, I expect about 20 bass to blow up on my bait. If I catch 10, I feel like I’ve had a really good day.