Ask pro bass angler Frank Scalish his favorite local lake for early season largemouth fishing and he doesn't hesitate to answer.
"Mosquito." Scalish, a Clevelander, learned his bass fishing skills on the lakes of northern Ohio and has fond memories about Mosquito Creek Reservoir. At age 41, Scalish is no bass novice, but he is competing as a rookie on the prestigious CITGO BASSMASTER Tour.
Now chasing a qualifying spot in the 2002 BASS Masters Classic, Scalish paused last week to discuss how he catches fish on Mosquito.
Best early lake: "I just love it," he said. "It's by far the best early lake in this part of Ohio. As soon as the ice is gone, the bass start biting."
Scalish says Mosquito is a great place to practice bass fishing's fundamentals.
"It's one of the easiest lakes to learn," he said. "In early spring, when the ice is still in the crotches of the trees, the bass move up to the shallows where you can catch them pitchin‚ and flippin‚ jigs and lizards." Anglers sometimes overcomplicate their approach to Mosquito.
"One time I tried cranking ledges just after ice-out. I wasn't getting bit, so I tied on a jig and went to the bank. I got five bites in 15 minutes." In early spring, Scalish said, Mosquito offers anglers two choices - main lake or pockets, both littered with cover where bass forage until spawn time.
"After the spawn, there still are a lot of shallow fish, but they are mostly bucks, so I go to the first break or the grass beds to catch bigger fish. Postspawn is a period where you find the fish on either rock, wood or grass. Mosquito bass do tend to favor one over the other and gang up so they are easy to pattern." In the summer, Scalish works hard on the grass edges.
Inside edge: "Don't overlook the inside edge," he said. "I like to work a Super Spook Jr. and buzzbait to locate fish, then I switch to flipping six-inch lizards and eight-inch worms." When autumn cools the water, bass break out of their summer doldrums. Scalish continues concentrating on the weeds, fishing fast-moving baits like buzzers, spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps.
"Mosquito is just a classic shallow water lake, with lots of cover where fishermen can learn because the fish are definitely around them," he said. "You don't have to worry, 'Are the fish out deep?‚' "The deepest I fish there is only six feet."
Scalish also likes to keep his color choices simple, especially when working jigs and soft plastics.
"I like junebug, green pumpkin, watermelon, plum or black. It's just a matter of picking something you think the fish can see in the water." At the mid-point in the CITGO BASSMASTER Tour season, Scalish leads the chase for rookie of the year honors in the BassFan.com points and appears to be well on his way to earning that coveted BASS Masters Classic berth.
And if the "bite" is shallow this July on the Classic venue, Lay Lake near Birmingham, Ala., Scalish will draw on his Mosquito experience and may emerge the big winner.
Those who follow his advice, meanwhile, will certainly have a great time at Scalish's favorite local lake.