JACK WOLLITZ Remembrances of bass past

A westerly breeze pushed the boat at a persistent pace along the jagged edge of the weed bed as my partner and I pitched soft plastics to pockets in the greenery.
Every 15 minutes or so, Tom Rolland or I jerked at the sensation of a bass that had grabbed our lizards and tubes. Starting at daybreak, we worked the weed patch for a full five hours, catching nice bass on each pass.
Our venue was Presque Isle Bay, 5,000 acres of sandy-bottom Lake Erie water protected by the seven-mile-long peninsula that juts northeasterly from the Erie, Pa., coastline.
Thinking back: Today, with the ice gone but the water and weather still way too cold for bass fishing, I take time to think back and analyze the productive trips of 2001. Our day on Presque Isle certainly was one of them. On waters that had served as the winter home of Commodore Perry's U.S. Navy fleet during the War of 1812, Rolland and I enjoyed one of our fishiest days last summer.
Rolland, a Youngstowner who divides his time between bass fishing and painting cars, was on his first-ever visit to the Presque Isle area of Lake Erie that day last June. He quickly caught on to tactics necessary to hook up with well-fed largemouth and smallmouth bass.
He tossed 6-inch watermelon lizards while I baited up with Texas-rigged tubes in the same color. Both worked well on the fish, which aggressively chomped when the baits slid into their hiding places in the weeds.
The sun was warm and bright, the breeze just about perfect and the fish were happy to oblige.
Trophy waters: Pennsylvania's Fish Commission has designated Lake Erie as trophy bass water, so "keeper" status is reserved for specimens 15 inches or longer. Our day produced a total haul of more than 25 bass, nine of which topped the keeper mark.
Rolland's catch included two excellent smallies, proving that even in late June one need not necessarily have to venture out into the big water to hook bronzebacks.
Presque Isle Bay, needless to say, will be back on our fishing schedules again in ‚02.
Getting serious: ESPN is beefing up its coverage of outdoor sports following its acquisition of B.A.S.S. Inc. and expanding its weekend fishing and hunting programming.
The sports network's web site, ESPNOutdoors.com, has announced a new feature for anglers: Interactive lake maps. Available through Fishing Hot Spots, the maps are online at the above address, as well as bassmaster.com.
The site also offers conservation and flyfishing links, opinion columns and a wide variety of outdoor-related news.
It's definitely worth checking out.

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