Time to go Lizard Fishing

Plastic lizards score consistently for spawning bass. Photo by author

I’m not talking about fishing for lizards; rather, fishing with lizards. I’m also not writing about putting live lizards on the hook to use for bait; rather, using plastic lizards impaled on a hook as a fishing lure. I am talking about when is the best time of the fishing season to select a lizard-shaped lure over all the other shapes and manifestations of plastic lures.

First of all, let’s make something perfectly clear. Lizard-shaped lures are a fantastic choice to use all year long.

Ok, got that off my chest. Carolina rigged, Texas-rigged, wobble head, drop shot, you name the technique and you can catch fish it with a lizard year ‘round. Still, lizards are best known for their effectiveness in catching bass in the pre-spawn and spawn around their bedding areas. There is something in a bass-brain that elicits a mind-numbingly aggressive reaction to a lizard near a bed filled with spawning bass’s eggs or babies.

That’s not really hard to understand, is it? A lizard looks menacing. It looks like the kind of thing that would eat little baby bass or disturb the rhythm of the bass’ spawning process.

There are a lot of things like newts, salamanders, snakes, frogs and other similar animals that cause a bass’s warning lights to start going off and emergency alarms to sound. So what does mama and papa bass do when they see a lizard near their house? They attack it!

As we start to get into the months of April and May around here (sometimes June up north or earlier down south) bass start to move into their spawning areas. When the shallows start to warm in the spring, bass will be up shallow making beds and guarding nests.
Here’s a handful of quick tips to fishing lures like the Strike King Rage Lizard where you are fishing this spring:

* Keep Your Distance When Sight Fishing – Nothing can mess up a perfect cast with a lizard than scaring off a spawning fish by getting too close. Whether you’re fishing from the shore and you see a bed or casting from a boat, back off as far as you can while still being able to cast a little past the bed. If the bass doesn’t see you, he is much more likely to eat what you’re throwing.

*Gentle Casts Past the Bed – This is a really important part of fishing for spawning bass. You don’t want to land your big lizard with a big ol’ splash right on the fish or on top of the bed. This is apt to spook the fish and make it much more difficult to catch. Try to gently lay your bait in the water 3-4 feet past the bed. Let it go to the bottom and ease it up to where the fish is positioned.

*Let it Sit and Jiggle it – Pausing that lizard on the bed can be absolutely maddening for a big female guarding her eggs. The longer you wait, the more the fish will get agitated. It will move closer and closer to your bait, nose up and almost “kiss” the bait. This is when you know you have her. One twitch or slight jiggle and that fish will pounce! Have a big wide gap hook so you can really rip that hookset and get that fish in the boat.

*Don’t Waste Too Much Time – Spawning bass can drive any fisherman crazy. If you spot a good fish sitting on a bed cast your lizard onto the bed ready to set the hook. If it doesn’t work try it again and make another few casts. Then give it up. If bass is ignoring everything you’re doing many times the best bet is to just move on to the next bed. If they’re ready to be caught, typically they will give some signs. If the fish are interested enough to bite they’ll let you know with small movements, big circles, short strikes or “nosing down” on the lizard.

This is the start of some of the best fishing of the year for many lakes around the country. Use them to catch bedding bass, then release the fish back to its bed. It’s the future of your sport.

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Mike Schoonveld
Mike Schoonveld grew up hunting and fishing in rural Northwest Indiana. In 1986 he piggy-backed a career as an outdoor writer onto his already long tenure as a wildlife biologist with the Indiana DNR. Now retired from his DNR position, Schoonveld is a U.S. Coast Guard licensed boat captain, operates Brother Nature Charters on Lake Michigan and spends much of his time trailering his boat to fishing hotspots around Indiana and the Midwest. Mike can be reached through his website www.brother-nature.com or visit Mike's Outdoor World Blog at www.bronature.com

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