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Daily fishing report

Published May 2, 2003

People often ask: What is the best time to catch bass? Most fishermen believe the only time is just before sunrise and sunset.

While it is true that bass move to shallow water during these low-light conditions and actively feed on baitfish, many of my trophy bass over the years were caught in the middle of the day.

Bass tend to move to shallow water when light is low to feed on shiners, shad, minnows, crawfish and bugs. These bass are actively feeding, so use a bait that will cover water quickly. Also, because visibility is relatively poor, use a lure that is noisy or gives off vibrations. A chugging top-water or spinnerbait will work well.

As the sun rises high into the sky, bass become less active in shallow water and move to deeper water. At this point, most fishermen say the bite is over and put the boat on the trailer, often missing the best bite of the day.

To take advantage of this opportunity, turn your depth finder on and begin searching for bottom cover. This can be bottom grass, submerged points and bars or brush. Once you locate the cover, drop a marker buoy for a reference point.

Bass holding in this type of cover are normally less active than the shallow-water bass. Use a bait that can be worked slowly and deliberately to entice a bass to eat.

A Florida-rigged plastic worm is the most effective bait to use under these circumstances. When rigging, begin with a three-sixteenth-ounce rattling weight and place it on the line, tie on a 4/0 worm hook and then tread on an 8- to 10-inch plastic worm.

You will find dark colors work better in the stained water of most Florida lakes. After the worm is rigged, spray some attractant on it to mask your odor and give the artificial bait a natural taste.

To work the lure, cast it past the marker buoy and allow it to fall to the bottom. Keep your rod tip up. This will place less water resistance on the line and allow you to feel the lure and the bite.

When working the lure, use the rod tip to slowly pull the bait through the cover. Always keep the line tight and rod high. A good graphite rod gives you more sensitivity. When the fish bites, lower the rod, reel until the line is tight and set the hook hard. While not every bass will be a trophy, give this technique a try and you will catch your share of trophy bass while having the lake all to yourself.

LAKE TARPON: Bass are biting. Morning trips have been catching between 12 and 30 bass on a variety of baits, including topwaters, spinnerbaits and worms. Find the bait (shad) and you will catch fish. Crappie fishing has turned off. The bream have taken over. A cricket or wiggler fished in 2 to 4 feet of water have been catching limits of bream for several local anglers.

LAKE OKEECHOBEE: If you want to experience some fun fishing, get down to Okeechobee. Bass have been exploding on topwater baits. Fish these baits in about 4 feet of water around grass edges. The best colors have been silver/black and watermelon. Work the baits fast when you get around active fish. Bream are bedding. Fish a worm or cricket near the bottom.

WEST LAKE TOHO: Bass are crushing shiners. Look for live hydrilla in 5 to 7 feet of water. Place a float about 3 feet from the hook and drift the submerged beds. Plastic jerk worms in golden shiner and watermelon have been catching fish. Fish these baits a little shallower. Bream are biting. Fish the grass with a wiggler or cricket.

- Lenny Crispino guides on Lake Tarpon. Call (727) 938-2379.

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