Spotted Bass Fun

By Ronnie Parris

Hey folks, I hope all is well with you and your family. I’m ready for some warmer days. Starting to see a few warm days mixed in, so now it’s time to start thinking about getting the kids out on the water. I’ve always said try to make sure they have a good time when you first start taking them. You just don’t want their first trips to be too cold or the fishing so slow that they lose interest.

One great species of fish to start kids on are the spotted bass. Spots aren’t native to our mountain lakes but were stocked illegally in most cases. These fish are either loved or hated. Not a lot of middle ground here. I’m one of the people that love the spots. They’re beautifully marked, hard-fighting and great table fare and most of the time really aggressive.

With that being said you may ask what’s the downside well as soon as the spots got established the smallmouth numbers started to dwindle. A lot of people think they outcompete the smallmouth for food, but I don’t think this is true. The reason I think is they cross breed and the spot being a dominant gene usually takes over. In the last 10 years we’ve started seeing a lot of cross breed fish. This happens so much most local fishermen will release the smallmouth when they’re caught.

As far as table fare I would put the spot up against almost any freshwater fish. Same goes for it’s ability to bend a rod. They are very versatile as to how you fish them. I’m a live bait man most of the time an tend to throw minnows, but the spots can be caught on a variety of artificial baits. My favorite is the Keitech swim bait. I can’t stress enough how effective this bait is, especially in May when the spots are up shallow spawning.

A lot of my tournament fishing buddies will throw nothing but Alabama rigs when chasing spots. Jerk baits such as Rapalas ex rap work great and are so exciting to fish when fishing breaking fish. Jigs are the rage when catching spots around docks and riprap. Almost any lure can be adapted for the spots.

So if the numbers are so high, what can be done to help the smallmouth out? Well the state has been trying different ways to help get control of the spot numbers. Latest rules allows for a no size or bag limit on the spots to try and lower their numbers. This seems to be working. That in combination with the bait explosion sure seems to be producing some bigger fish too. I can’t remember a time when we’ve caught as many big bass as right now.

With all this being said if you want to have some fun an bring home some great tasting fillets try targeting some of these hard fighting spots. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

As always stay safe and take a kid fishing.

Ronnie Parris is owner and head guide of Smoky Mountain Outdoors Unlimited-Fontana Lake Fishing Guides, headquartered in Bryson City, N.C., heart of the Great Smoky Mountains,; (828) 488-9711.