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Soft Plastics During April and May

Once the water warms into the 60s on Lake Barcroft, the Bass start to think about spawning and move toward shallow flats with hard bottoms.  Soft plastic worms, Tube Lures and Creature baits are some of your best lures to catch them with at this time of year.

Right before the Spawn and during the spawning process I cast soft floating worms like a weightless Zoom Trickworm, or a soft Jerkbait like a Lunker Lures Slug-O or Zoom fluke.  I go to shallow areas of the lake with clear water and hard bottoms and cast shallow and twitch the baits back to the boat.  Another good lure is a six inch Lizard dragged across spawning flats on a miniature Carolina rig with a small sinker rigged a foot or two above the bait

Once water temperatures rise from winter numbers into the 50s, I catch Presapawn bass with Jigs, Crankbaits and Spinnerbaits, in depth transition areas from deep to shallow.  Later on during the peak of Spring, soft plastics fished on the flats will do better.  Soft Plastics like the traditional big Texas rigged worm will catch bass all throughout the Summer too in deeper Structure.  Spring and Summer.  I can’t wait.

Tim Hardy

 

 

 

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Winter Fishing On Lake Barcroft

The cold water season on Lake Barcroft spans about three months long.  Bass fishing in the fall can be fast and large numbers of fish can be caught using moving baits like spinnerbaits  and crankbaits.  The introduction of Gizzard Shad to the Lake in the mid 90s gave the Bass and other Predator fish a bountiful bunch of forage.  The Bass follow the movement of the Shad up to the shallow ends in early fall and back out to the main Lake in winter.

Once the water temperature dips below fifty degrees and into the mid to low 40s, the fast action of fall has ended and the Winter Fishing begins.  Winters in Falls Church, especially in the last decade have been mild, but a cold snap can cause some Gizzard Shad to die off.  This is a welcome event to birds such as gulls and even the Majestic Bald Eagle.

This Shad Kill also provides a feeding opportunity with good rewards to predator fish such as The Largemouth Bass.  My favorite and most productive lure to use during these times is a suspending Jerkbait.  It mimics a dying shad like no other lure and I have caught Bass on this style lure with water temperatures in the 30s.  My favorite is the Smithwhick Pefect Ten Rogue.  I fish it on a twitch and pause cadence and often am thrilled when a four pounder thinks it’s  a Shad.  Another Favorite lure I like to use in cold water is a flat sided Crankbait like The Bomber Deep Flat A.  It has neutral Buoyancy and does a good job imitating a weak Shad as well.scan0013-2

When the water is a little warmer I also do well fishing Spinnerbaits.  I slow roll them through areas where I know there is wood or brush and when The Bass are a little more active, they knock slack in my line and I have landed some 4s and 5s doing this.  The conclusion I make during colder months is to use lures that mimic those big dying shad.

Tim Hardy

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Pitchn’ Jigs and Tubes under Pontoons and Docks in the warm water of Summer

Summer is here and the water is heating up.  A lot of Bass have moved off shore after the spawn and can be hard to reach.  Lake Barcroft, because it is a community lake that exists to please swimmers and pleasure boaters is almost void of natural cover.  There are some old sunken trees, shallow lily Pads and sparse grass in places, but deep water fish can be hard to pinpoint and catch if they are not on specific pieces of cover.  One Man Made form of shallow and deep water cover that exists in abundance on Barcroft is docks and docked pontoon boats.  Bass love to get under those things in Summer and hang out in the shade to ambush Bluegills.  Pitching and skipping Jigs and Tube Baits is my favorite way to target those Bass.KIMG0052

I’ve stopped listening to the country music I grew up on in my truck during the work day because the sad old songs get stuck in my head and play with my emotions.  One thing that I don’t mind getting stuck in my head is Bass Fishing.  I play my Bass Pro videos nonstop in my truck as I drive from job to job, Larry Nixon’s Tournament Tactics for Summer Season Bass where he talks about deep water structure and Technique specific tapes like KVD’s Pitchn’ to Heavy Hitters where I try to memorize the master’s instructions on the casting techniques that target these under cover Bass.

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Over the past few hot afternoons, I have gone out on the Lake in my flat bottom Arkansas Traveler and decided to bring one rod and a handful of jigs and trailers to practice my pitching and I have seen that in just an hour’s time in the hot Summer Sun, good sized Bass from just a handful of overhangs and pontoon boats.  I used to know about every deep brush pile and tree in the lake and loved to fish the Texas Rigged Worm to coax Bass from obvious fallen trees.  Pontoon boats and dock overhangs are obvious too and they are everywhere.  I have found that Deeper docked pontoon boats, or Shallow ones docked near a drop-off produce best.  Another tell tale sign of a good dock setup is Old Mister Blue Heron.  He loves to eat big Bluegills and so do big Bass.  Summertime Pitchn’  and skippn’ can be a deadly technique around a Party Barge and the white dung of Old Mister Heron.

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Gizzard Shad

My friend John Schmitt caught this huge Bass today using a Shad Imitating lure.

Lake Barcroft is full of a silver img_4737-2sided Baitfish called Gizzard Shad.  It has become the main forage for all predatory fish in the Lake.  Gizzard Shad also attract birds of prey like the Osprey, Great Blue Heron and even Bald Eagles along with sea birds like gulls.

Shad move in schools, or Pods and roam open water areas feeding on microorganisms and plankton.  They are an oily fish, a great bait for Catfish as cut bait with a powerful smell.  They are the main forage for Largemouth Bass, especially in the cool water periods.  I know this because   I have been using Shad imitating  lures  and have had good success with solid catches of healthy and chunky bass this winter.   Everyday I have been out so far this year I have caught quality sized Bass and the only two lures I have been using is a suspending Jerkbait and a Spinnerbait.  Where there is bait, like Shad in the water, big fish can be found.  Tim Hardy

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The Pelagic fish of Barcroft Sea

Long about 1999, some fish called Hybrids were stocked in Lake Barcroft.  They were a cross breed between freshwater White Bass and The saltwater Pelagic, meaning to travel and chase prey in open water, fish,  the striped bass that spawns in freshwater and can live in freshwater impoundments.

Back in the mid 90s, there were large numbers of the silver sided baitfish called Gizzard Shad living in the Lake.  They had few predators at that time besides the Largemouth Bass Channel Catfish, and the Osprey, although through the years and because of the Shad, we have more birds of prey in Barcroft.  The Shad were in such great number and the deeper water lacked oxygen and they began to crowd themselves out and die.  I worked as a Lifeguard on the swimming beaches and the stinky dead fish would wash up in piles.  Part of my job was to burry them.

Then the Watershed Improvement District decided to stock the fast foraging hybrids to control the Shad Population in 99.  They also made improvements to the deep water Aeration system of the Lake.

I remember the first one I caught was on a Crankbait and it measured about 12 inches 10399648_1028838998177_3419_nlong.  The next time I purposefully fished for them was in the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, about 2003-2005.  They got big fast.  I caught them in the deep water bubbles of the WID’s Aeration system and I caught them up the Holmes Run creek channel trolling soft plastic shad baits on a half ounce jig head as fast as my trolling motor would go.

It was much like the Mackeral and Mahi fishing I had done in the Outer Banks.  Trolling at Moderate speeds with flashy baitfish imitators .  I caught them on Sassy Shads and Bomber Crankbaits trolled at different depths and I caught them on Topwater in the aeration system with a chrome Zara Spook.  Sometimes you would see gulls and other birds diving on a school of Shad that were being eaten below by the Hybrid Striped Bass.  This is what reminds me of Sea fishing as The Captain I went out with there one winter was looking for those diving Gannets for his Ocean Stripers.  His Mate told me they had caught Stripers up to 50 some pounds, but I was just a little too late and cold for that.        Tim Hardy

Topwater and Night Fishing

One of my favorite ways to catch Bass of all kinds is with lures that are retrieved a13516205_10206940667412120_2804007773792505464_ncross the surface of the water, or “Topwaters”.  This is primarily a warm water technique and can be the best and most efficient way of covering water in the Summer mornings, Evenings and nighttime.  It is a low light technique and works all day on rainy overcast days during the summer.  My favorite way to catch them then is to keep the trolling motor on and just cast and retrieve a big Buzz Bait.  Another lure that can call fish up to strike the surface from deeper clearer water is a big cigar shaped lure called a Heddon Zara Spook.  I can produce monsters.

During the hot summer nights when fish may not have been as active during the day, Big Bass come to feed up shallow on main Lake points and flats.  My favorite lure for this time of fishing is the old surface wobbler, The Arbogast Jitterbug, Black.  Bigger Bass can be caught a night in the Summer than during the day, without question.  In fact when I have gone night fishing I almost always have caught nothing, but good sized fish.  When they explode on the surface with reckless abandon and violently try to kill my lure, Boy, is that a thrill.  Bass will also hit jigs, plastic worms, and black Colorado bladed Spinnerbaits.  The black color of these lures actually creates a silhouette and the big round Spinnerbait blade produces a vibration that bass can sense in their bodies.

scan0001When I go Smallmouth fishing on The Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, Topwater can be the best bet all day sometimes, along with a plastic grub or Hellgrammite.   Chuggers like the Storm Chug Bug and Rebel Pop R are my favorites for the rivers, which I usually fish during the peak of Summer.

Tim Hardy

 

 

PreSpawn in March and April.

During the Prespawn phase, big bass feed heavily and will hit both Crawdad and Shad imitating lures.  During the actual Spawn later in the year, they hate Bluegill and will kill anything that looks like a nest robber.  My worker, who has been with me for 7 years caught this five pounder last Spring on a nest robber Crawdad Crankbait in grass near a spawning flat.  The Prespawn means all Bass will be moving shallow which makes them easier to catch.  It is a transition time from Winter to Spring and a time I hate to miss because it would be one of my best chances to catch that elusive 5.5 pounder.  I caught this one on a spinnerbait while fishing with one of my workers last March.  Tim Hardy15941136_125142774656717_6518632074658524391_n-1

Jig Fishing Barcroft

Another, and probably one of the most versatile and year long successful methods of fishing for Largemouth on Lake Barcroft is Jig Fishing.  Fishing a jig is a productive technique for all seasons.  From the cold months of winter, through Spring Summer and Fall.  I do well with jigs bumping them into wood and rock and pitching them around docks and pontoon boats.  It is  a dynamite technique in the heat of summer to pitch jigs into shaded areas of docked boats. and when there are fallen trees remaining in the lake, I don’t think there is a better  at to fish them than with a jig.  It is good at imitating Sunfish and Craws, and it is one of the oldest lures around that produces quality Fish.  My Favorite times of year to fish them on Barcroft is in the PreSpawn and Summer Months.  I always will have a jig tied on to one of my Rods.  Tim Hardy

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