All about the bass – with or without trebles

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This has got to be one of the most fun times of the year to fish for bass –  all bass in San Diego that is. We have the spawn, post spawn, and wolf pack thing happening on our lakes right now, as well as the prespawn, and spawn going on with the bay and inshore saltwater bass.

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  • Here’s what I have seen on the lakes: Lots of fry guarding males. Soft jerkbaits like flukes, and even hard jerkbaits like TD Minnows are producing great numbers, while bigger baits like rats, punkers, and buzzbaits can get you some bigger fish.

    Look out frog season – Otay is starting to grass up, as are Murray and Miramar.

    All lakes, especially El Capitan and Otay are experiencing a great shad spawn that has wolf packing bass blitzing through shad schools like bluefish on menhaden. I have recently seen eruptions of no less than a hundred bass on one shad cloud. Needless to say I caught two out of that hundred. Most of my trips on the lakes have been solo.

    There seems to be a rumor that I only guide in the bay. Oh well, having the fish to myself isn’t bad, and it allows me to actually get back to my first love of fishing for largemouth. Not fishing in tournaments does take the pressure off, and on a recent trip to Otay, I was able to boat 23 fish before 8AM, finishing the day with 37 bass before I left at 12:30.

    Since I am being more known for guiding folks on saltwater bass, I might as well share what they are up to.

    As most of you SDFish folk may already know, the saltwater bass spawn differently than freshwater bass. Unlike the largemouth and smallmouth, that go shallow – making beds – and spawning while the male protects the eggs, the saltwater bass spawns over a deeper water with cover on the bottom. They spawn in a pelagic spire known as an aggregation. The females drop their eggs while the males fertilize those eggs. Both males and females follow the eggs to the bottom to ensure they get there safely. Many males will stay near the bottom to protect the eggs. The spawning aggregation gathers lots of attention from baitfish and squid, being eggs are an easy meal. Since the bass are burning calories during the spawn, and protecting the eggs, they eat any predator that interferes with their eggs. This is unlike the freshwater bass that usually just wants the predator moved, and due to it’s sedentary position burns very few calories, and isn’t all that hungry during the spawn.

    Well, useless fish trivia aside, suffice to say the salty bass are getting it on. Using your graph, find a spire of biomass, drop your favorite lure, and hang on. Many of these fish – sand bass and calico alike – will hit your lure before it drops a third of the depth you are in. Yes, they really are that aggressive. What makes this so fun right now? El Nino. Everybody has pelagic fever already. Not to blame them, but if you like catching bass like I do; or if part of your job is helping folks get their rods bent, this is a great time to do so. On a recent trip to one of my favorite reefs, my customers had the whole place to themselves. And they scored big time.

    Well, I can go on and on about this topic. If any of you have any questions not covered here nor in my recent radio broadcasts, please feel free to send me a message. Whether you book a trip with me, someone else, or jump on your own rig, get out there and have a great time!

    Many Blessings,

    James (ya doesn’t hasta call me Captain) Nelson

    Contact Captain James Nelson: Send an email | (619)395-0799 | Visit website

    About Author

    James Nelson

    Captain James Nelson has been fishing the bays and lakes of Southern California for more than 30 years. He is one of the most diverse guides in the area, providing rewarding guide trips on both San Diego and Mission Bay, inshore saltwater trips, as well as trips to the local lakes, including Diamond Valley.

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