Depending on the weather, bass spawn early at Bogue Homa in March. An angler probably may have a 5-fish bag weighing 20 to 25 pounds. With those opportunities in mind, how do you go about putting fish in the boat?
• Spawning bass
I’ll start fishing a ¼-ounce buzzbait, since spawning bass don’t like loud, flashing, squeaking baits around their beds. When a warm front moves in, I’ll go to the southeastern part of the lake’s back end and fish around the grass and the lily pads beginning to come up above the surface. You’ll also find lily pad stems left over from the previous year, and that’s where the bass spawn first. I’ll make long casts and reel the buzzbait slowly over the tops of the beds that I can see in front of me. Often, a female bass will attack the buzzbait.
I’ll fish a medium heavy 7-foot-6 Team Lew’s rod with an 8.3:1 Team Lew’s reel loaded with 60-pound braid. I’ll fish buzzbaits in white and black with a yellow skirt, not using any type of trailer but using a trailer hook.
If the bass aren’t there, I’ll move to the middle of the lake and start fishing halfway in the biggest pockets. I’ll fish all the way around the shoreline to the back of the pocket, until I’m about halfway out of the cove.
If I can see the beds, and the bass won’t attack the buzzbait, I’ll pitch a 6-inch black/blue Mann’s HardNose lizard with a 1/8-ounce slip lead on a 5/0 wide-gap hook and 26-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon. I’ll use a 7-foot-11, medium heavy rod with a 7.5:1 reel. If the bed’s too far away for pitching, I’ll cast to the bed and let the lizard sit still for 30 seconds. If the bass still doesn’t pick it up, I’ll shake my rod tip to make the lizard quiver, and then allow it to sit for 30 more seconds. When a bass isn’t active enough to take the buzzbait, she’ll move the lizard out of the bed by picking it up by the tail or soaking it in her mouth. Pay close attention to your line. If it moves or twitches, set the hook hard. You’ll have about a 50/50 chance of hooking the bass. The female won’t hold onto the bait long and will drop it once it’s out of her bed.
• Non-spawning bass
Early in March — or if the weather has been very cold — bass may not be spawning. I’ll swim a 3/8-ounce black/blue Stone Jig with a black/blue crawfish trailer on 30-pound braid. I’ll fish a 7.5:1 reel on a 71/2-foot, medium heavy rod. The crawfish trailer will help to hold the jig higher in the water.
Since I want my jig to tick the new vegetation that’s growing in March, I’ll swim it slowly. Every time it hangs up on the grass, I’ll snatch it loose, which is often when you’ll get a reaction strike from a big bass.
I also like to fish a Chatterbait, which is basically a bladed jig. I like a 3/8-ounce, green pumpkin Chatterbait, and I’ll add a 5-inch, green pumpkin Reel ‘N Shad on its back to create the profile of a jig and swimbait. I’ll dye the tail of the Reel ‘N Shad chartreuse. I’ll fish the Chatterbait the same way I’ve fished the jig; if it hangs up in the grass, I’ll jerk it out and expect to get the bass bite then.
• Last-resort tactic
If bass aren’t in the shallows, I’ll start fishing the lake’s hundreds of cypress trees. When the water temperature is in the mid-50s and hasn’t warmed up, I’ll pitch a ½-ounce Stone Jig with a crawfish trailer — both in black/blue — on 50-pound braid around the base of cypress trees and then out 8 to 10 feet from the trees.
While fishing cypress trees and stumps, be sure to watch your depth finder, because several small, narrow feeder creeks run through these trees. The big female bass often will stage before the spawn on the edges of these creeks, although the water depth only may change by 2 feet. Fish the jig slowly in 3 to 5 feet of water to cover the bottom around the cypress trees.
Fishing Bogue Homa in March, you may catch an 8- or 9-pound bass — or possibly bigger — and the lake’s loaded with 4- to 6-pounders. March may be the very best month to fish there.