Crochet does well with bass in Spillway
Cliff Crochet longs for chilly mornings during the fall.
“Not so cold. Just enough to wear a jacket until the sun warms up and it’s comfortable to fish,” the Pierre Part angler said Tuesday.
Thing was, Crochet already was in his comfort zone. The Atchafalaya Spillway is his second home. Its broad expanse of shallow water launched him into his dream. It was there a couple of years ago, when he finished high enough in the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society’s Central Division standings to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic.
He showed why Tuesday: With eight rods and reels rigged with every imaginable bass lure on the deck of his Skeeter boat, he used only two baits he knew Spillway bass like most any day — a spinnerbait and a heavily weighted “punching” bait, a Sweet Beaver, a soft-plastic something that’s been imitated by a dozen or more lure makers in the last three years.
“I love to punch the grass,” Crochet said. “It’s easy to pattern the fish (bass) because you go down a (grass) line and pitch the bait into small openings then work it (up and down) a couple of times, then go to the next opening.
“Sometimes the fish are inside the line, sometimes they’re right on the edge, and that’s how you figure out how to work the line,” he said.
The trick is to make mental notes on where the strikes come and how they come. Are the bass on the edge, or deeper under the cover? Do they attack the bait immediately, on the fall, or after moving it up and down under the cover?
“Understanding those little things makes a lot of difference when it comes to catching ‘punching’ fish,” Crochet said, adding that presentation often makes more of a difference than does lure color.
Another part of this very specific method is the hefty sinker, that’s fixed to the lure with a “bobber stopper,” a small piece of string threaded around the line. Most times these sinkers weigh an ounce or more, a far cry from the quarter-ounce or smaller bullet weights used when Texas-rigging most other soft plastics.
“You need the weight to get through the grass,” Crochet said. “Otherwise, the bait will lay on top of these mats.”
And there’s enough grass in the Atchafalaya and across south Louisiana to make this technique well worth the time to learn it. For years, fishermen have found water hyacinth, but that’s minor compared to the hydrilla, the common salvinia that latches onto the hydrilla mats and the sawgrass and Cuban cane that grows atop the layers of salvinia.
Possibly the best part about the day was that Crochet was able to stay ready for his next challenge, next week’s trip to Alabama for the final B.A.S.S. Central Division tournament of the year on Smith Lake. It’s his last chance to get a spot for next year’s Classic set for Tulsa, Okla.
But the best part, for him, was that the day produced 40 some-odd bass ranging from nothead to three pounds and proved that Spillway bass survived Hurricane Isaac.
Now just bring on “jacket” weather and those cool morns.
Apparently redfish in the Lafitte area, specifically The Pen, survived Isaac enough so that three men were cited for possessing 62 redfish caught in that area Friday. That’s 47 more than the legal limit, and some of the reds measured less than 16 inches long.