You need to know when to break the bassin' rules

 
 
Updated 10/20/2010 7:11 PM
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Larry was very hesitant when I called and asked him to meet me by the large pond near his Hoffman Estates home.

"The water is too cold as well as the outside temperature, and the bass will refuse to hit anything, including live bait," he replied in harsh tones.

I then dropped the gauntlet. I countered by telling him it would do him some good to get out and subsequently watch me catch some fish. That did it.

I brought one medium-weight spinning rod and reel, spooled with 8-pound test mono. Along with that I had a tiny tackle bag with just two one-eighth-ounce spinnerbaits and three Little Action Mac worms.

Larry never stopped complaining about everything under the sun. I tuned him out and tied on a Little Action Mac.

It was the third cast and retrieve that brought me out of my reverie. A chunky 2-pound bass grabbed the worm as it slithered its way across the bottom of the pond. I then flipped the worm some 50 feet, out on the edge of a clump of dying weeds. Another bass grabbed the lure and headed for some dead tree stumps. This fish was slightly smaller, but still it told me there was some activity in this cold water.

And then everything went dead. Larry was now snorting and puffing up like a bullfrog.

"Give it up already," he bellowed, "and let's go grab some lunch."

I told him to go without me because I wanted to try one more late fall trick. He chose to stay, hoping I would strike out.

I rigged a small white spinnerbait to the end of the mono and started fan casting to about 40 feet from the bank of the pond. There were still a few bunches of green weeds poking through the surface. I dragged the spinnerbait through the weeds and then let it drop to the bottom. Many anglers call this technique "helicoptering a bait." I call it a move of desperation at this time of the year.

A dozen casts later I thought to myself that maybe I should be goose hunting, but I stuck to it nevertheless.

I turned my head to face Larry and told him I wanted to make six more casts and if nothing happened we would go have a bowl of soup.

On my fifth cast I was ready to give up the ghost and head for that warm lunch when a jumbo bass raced out of the weed tops and inhaled the spinner bait.

I don't know about you, but it's not just about the catching that gives me chills. It's the addition of jumps and power drives a motivated bass will give me that makes the adrenaline zoom through my body.

Once again this brute headed for the lumber and proceeded to wrap the line around a decayed chunk of tree top. I figured this fish was history, along with my light mono, but I hung in there. I gently eased the fish around the wood and out into open water. In the meantime Larry was standing close by, yelling encouragement like a football coach running down a sideline chasing a running back.

"Don't horse it," he kept screaming. "Watch out for the wood."

I kept a close watch on the fish and simultaneously told Larry to button it.

Over a very long career in this business I have discovered there seem to be more experts in the sport than actual freshwater fish, with Larry being one of them. And there are legions of so-called pros that will declare it's very rare largemouth bass will actively chase an artificial bait under cold-water conditions.

By the way, the bass I shouldn't have caught scaled at slightly more than 4 pounds. Fortunately for me I broke one of the cardinal rules of angling. Larry kept muttering he should have brought a rod.