Tournament winners share tips

Looking for David Cavell?
Corey Wheat?

You’ll find them now in the Lake Verret Basin for the next in the Media Bass-South Louisiana Team circuit’s next tournament.

That’s OK with them because there’s lots happening there bass-wise, bream-wise and shad-wise

“Right now the shad are spawning. A lot of people don’t factor that into their game plan, but the shad spawn is something Corey and I look for every year,” Cavell said.

It’s not that the bass are looking for this year’s new shad crop in all this activity, it’s that the adult shad, the spawners, are congregating in big numbers, really big numbers, and that makes it easy for a hungry bass coming from their post-spawn fast to grab an easy meal.

Cavell said the simplest way to find the shad is to look at the water. Shad rise to the surface and flip their tails. In a big school, picture large raindrops hitting the water and you’ve located them. Cavell said that’s where you start.

He said the early morning hours are the best: Start with spinnerbaits or maybe buzzbaits or small topwater plugs. Naturally, shad colors, something with white and maybe something with a little sparkle in the lure helps, too, anything to mimic a shad.

“You definitely want to get on the early morning bite,” Wheat advised. “We’re seeing a transition and you can get on stretches of cypress trees in the lake and see shad busting the top of the water. You’ll see them around trees where the moss is hanging down, and that’s where spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and topwaters like Chug Bugs really work.

“After the sun gets up, and the water heats up, the action in the trees will slow down. It means the bass have moved out away from the trees, but once you know, once you have found the (bass), pull away from the trees, slow down and try to find (a lure) they like.”

Both readily admit that another favorite tactic for this successful fishing partnership is looking for bream beds. It’s often bluegills because they are gathering under trees to feed on caterpillars falling from tree branches, and this can be an
indication the bluegills are
getting ready to start their spawn.

“This is another major pattern,” Cavell said. “When the bream start bedding up like this, the bass will move in to feed on them, too. The bluegill are actively feeding, and that means they’ll attack almost anything. The bass know this activity and move in to take the size of the bream they want to eat. Again, the bass are hungry these days, too.”

Cavell said this is patience-trying fishing. Most often the best presentation is a soft-plastic lure, something like worms or “creature” baits. Because the bluegill, and any other sunfish, are in attack mode, they will peck at these lures, too.

“Beaver-style baits, especially watermelon-red color because that’s the colors in the bluegill, will dominate the black and blue colors right now,” Cavell said.

“A lot of times we’ll go to smaller baits to catch a limit (most tournaments have five-bass daily limits), and that’s a pain because of the bream trying to eat the bait, but Corey and I like to go against the grain,” Cavell said. “The bass are coming out of the winter and their spawn, and they’re hungry.”

So the adage that big fish eat big baits applies here, right?

“We might go to finesse baits when we find the bream beds, but when we have our limit all that small stuff goes out the window. We’re going to big baits,” Cavell said.

While that covers the Lake Verret-Belle River area, both Cavell and Wheat said they can’t wait to get back to their favorite fishing hole — the marsh.

“I grew up fishing the Turtle Bayou and Bayou Penchant areas and places like that,” Wheat said. “I like to stay in the canals that have big feeder ponds. This area allows fish to roam around in the ponds and when (the weather and water get) hot, the fish move from the ponds into the canals.”

Wheat said wind direction and tidal movement are factors in moving bass from ponds to canals and canals back into the ponds.

“There’s really no big secret,” Wheat said. “As long as big marsh pond is around big canals, the area should have a population of fish. Some canals are gated (no access) and some are filled with (water) hyacinths, but you can stay around canals that have good water flow and usually find some fish.”

Because the area is so massive, Wheat said the trick is to read the wind and the tide.

“It’s true that one massive marsh pond feeds most all those canals, but somewhere along in the area there will be fish moving out of the big ponds,” he said. “When the summer comes, you have wind, tide and heat, and that’s why fishing is better in August. The freshwater gets hot and the fish have to come out of the ponds and get to deeper water.”

What to cast?

“Right now, this month, the frog is going to be your best bet,” Wheat said. “Whether it’s a swimming frog or a poppin’ frog doesn’t seem to matter. For now, the best will be a frog in bream colors because that’s what the bass will be eating now.”

“Really a frog is a consistent bait all year in that area. But right now, with the bass coming out of the spawn, you want to have something to hang over their heads, something to aggravate them, something they want to eat.”