An enticing skirt, a deadly blade

Posted 3/13/24

It was two o’clock in the afternoon before we got to the lake, and it was up a little but not much. The water was just a little murky, but there was still a few feet or so of visibility in it. …

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An enticing skirt, a deadly blade


It was two o’clock in the afternoon before we got to the lake, and it was up a little but not much. The water was just a little murky, but there was still a few feet or so of visibility in it. That’s about perfect for a big spinner-bait. If you fish small spinners and light line, clear water is fine, but if you are after a brawling, broad-sided bass, and the spinner blade is about the size of a spoon you use to serve mashed potatoes with, a little bit of murkiness in the water is fine.

I pulled a yellow and white skirt with two large gold willow-leaf spinners out of my tackle box, and I put a trailer hook on the main hook. I added a strip of white pork rind on the main hook below the trailer, so the trailer hook wouldn’t come off, and it made the whole thing look even more delectable. When you get through with that you have about three-quarters of an ounce of lure to cast. With that I was using an Ambassadeur 4500 casting reel and 14-pound line, on a medium-heavy graphite rod. Of course, such a rig isn’t meant for enjoying the resistance of small fish. You are hoping to attract a largemouth of lunker proportions, and you are looking for him in brushy water, back up in a cove which is full of timber, or maybe in that cove halfway out to the main lake.

And of course, I caught five bass in the first hour from 12- to 15- inches long. That is better than nothing, but I am one of those lunker-busters. I want a hog… a slab-sided frog eater! Smaller bass would have been great fun on a spinning outfit with eight-pound line but in the brush we were fishing, that kind of gear is too light. They were out away from the bank in six or eight feet of water, and to get to them, I was hanging up on occasion, then working to get that lure loose.

It happens that way when you fish a spinner-bait the size of a bird’s nest in that kind of water. You don’t just cast it and retrieve it. You vibrate that blade, you lift it and you drop it and you let it fall and flutter into water where there are logs and limbs. You try to tantalize a bass, get him to rise up from the brushpile hideout where he lurks and come after that spinner bait. You use your rod tip, you feel your lure through places where you can’t actually see what is there. I don’t know what a bass thinks that spinner-bait is, but you make him like the idea of eating it, by causing the blade to throb and the skirt to undulate. You make it look alive, like something with a fishy taste to it.

There are all kinds of spinner-baits today, and blades of a variety of colors and shapes. Apparently my gold willow leaf variety was what they wanted that day last week. I had just retrieved the lure from an underwater limb, and made another cast ahead of me, when between two upright trees, I felt it hit another limb. I lifted it quickly and felt it stop and give just a little. Then in a split second I saw it move, away and down. I set the hook hard and the bass, only eight or ten feet from the boat, didn’t give an inch. A hog! Finally I had attracted a bass worthy of the gear I was using. He just stripped a foot or so of line against my drag, then came back below me, arcing the rod like a catfish on a cane pole. It was fun… at times like that I remember why I like to fish for bass.

No, it isn’t quite along the lines of dueling a four-pound smallmouth in a current below a river shoal, but a big largemouth bass with a mouth that will easily hold a softball, and a belly wide and heavy with eggs, will make you forget there is any work left undone at home. I fought him, and I won. Many times I have hooked bass of that size and they have won the struggle, but last week it was my turn. I hefted him, actually a ‘her’ and my partner took a couple of pictures. The bass was a little better than 21 inches long, and you can guess it’s weight by going to my website ( and looking at the photo.

The lake was a place of solitude that day in midweek. There wasn’t a boat to be seen, not an unnatural sound to be heard. I don’t fish lakes which are heavy on development, and I don’t fish on weekends because there are too many boats on the water, often because of the tournament crowds. I like being out there alone when I can be, where you can’t see anything but water and woods around you. And with those conditions, every now and then…

Read more of my outdoor news and columns on larrydablemontoutdoors. Email me at Our river trip on the Big Piney will be April 20 and the Truman Lake pontoon trip will be April 27. Call and talk too my secretary, Ms. Wiggins, if you want to go along, or get more information. The office phone is 417-777-5227.