Fish Rap: If bass aren’t on your mind, maybe they should be

I know this will fall on deaf ears with most of my fellow fly anglers, but here’s a suggestion: Don’t overlook bass this time of year.

It’s spawning season, and while fishing for trout during the spawn is generally frowned upon, it’s fair game in the bass world, assuming you release what you catch.

Bass are in the shallows, and it’s a great time to go after them with a fly. It’s a lot of fun, and while many of you are experiencing combat fishing on the Owyhee River, there are dozens of bass ponds in the Treasure Valley being ignored, at least by fly anglers.

You already have the gear: a five- or six-weight rod and float tube or similar craft. Get some bass flies and go, or heck, a big woolly bugger or leech will work fine.

Here are some tips: Think structure because bass like to be in cover. Cast close and let the fly settle, or do a fast strip right from the start and then let the fly settle. If your fly is farther than 6 to 10 feet from structure, cast and get it back closer. You will rarely catch a bass in open water.

Don’t expect a bass to a strike like a trout, which tend to slam a fly. Bass will often strike the fly on the drop, or swim up and gently mouth it, so strikes can be surprisingly subtle. You may just feel gentle weight on your fly similar to dragging it through weeds. Always watch the end of your fly line and treat it like strike indicator.

SET THE HOOK! No gentle lifting like a midge on a 7X tippet. You should feel your rod’s cork grip flex. A strip strike also works well. Use a stout enough tippet to withstand a strong hook set.

Largemouth and smallmouth are different critters. They have some similarities. My rule of thumb is smallies like water similar to trout, especially in the Snake. Think rocks and riffles. Largemouth like weeds, reeds and trees in ponds and lakes.

Move to find those aggressive fish. Bass fishing can be fast and furious. If you learn the basics, you will catch lots of them, and now is the time.