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Clear H2O

Dr. Jason Halfen, The Technological Angler

Bassmaster Elite touring pro Stephen Browning

The bass pre-spawn period is a time of anticipation and transition.

Largemouth and spotted bass slide out of their deeper, thermally-stable wintering holes and begin a systematic movement toward the warming shallows, where they will binge feed in preparation for the rigors of spawning.

Along the way, tempestuous spring weather can cause bass to hit the pause button, or even find their reverse gear, delaying their progress or even causing bass to restart from scratch. Yes, we know where the bass will begin this springtime transition period, and we also know where it will end, but that in-between region, in which bass are hyper-sensitive and on the move – that’s what separates the contenders from the pretenders.

Bassmaster Elite touring pro Stephen Browning is no stranger to success in early season tournaments. The 10-time qualifier for the Bassmaster Classic has racked up an impressive number of wins by targeting cold water, pre-spawn bass, including a recent victory at the 2018 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on Ross Barnett Reservoir. With career earnings in excess of $1.3 million, Browning knows a thing or two about targeting big bass when big bucks are on the line.

IBF Report

The Indiana Bass Federation (IBF), an organization with the purpose to assist and unite member clubs and to assist and cooperate with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in matters that are mutually beneficial, has announced it has allotted $5,000 to stock bass in Raccoon Lake this year.

With the cooperation and support of the Indiana DNR they are purchasing 1000, 8- to 12-inch largemouth bass from a Cincinnati hatchery.

IBF Conservation Director Maggie Templeton said the DNR was very helpful in recommending the best size of bass to stock and locating the best pricing. .

Provided by Z-Man

Ned Kehde

Days on the water with Ned Kehde aren’t measured by pounds of bass in the livewell or by “5 good bites.”

Rather, outings with the Hall of Fame fishing writer mostly distill down to clicks on a little handheld counting device that often rolls to some number of bass and other fish greater than 100.

Dig a little deeper and you discover it’s not unheard of for a single, durable ElaZtech softbait—Kehde’s favorite— to have topped the century mark. According to Kehde, the all-time record was set by one particular 4-inch Z-Man Finesse WormZ, with which he caught 232 fish.

More recently, while testing a TRD HogZ—a relatively new 3-inch finesse bait—Kehde caught 55 bass in 69 minutes—all in frigid 41-degree water. “I mailed the HogZ back to Daniel Nussbaum of Z-Man,” noted Kehde, “after this one bait produced 112 fish. It was still in really good shape.”

The larger truth is Kehde remains chiefly responsible for developing the Ned Rig. Though the ultra-finesse presentation runs counter to much of bass fishing’s mainstream, which often prefers beefy rods, stout line and jumbo jig-hooks, the unassuming Ned Rig has almost certainly captured more interest and acclaim by North American bassers than any other presentation in recent memory.

Ned Rig Renaissance

The big development in the Ned Rig narrative occurred the day Kevin VanDam showed Kehde an early ElaZtech bait while fishing together in 2006. VanDam put in Kehde’s hands a pack Strike King Zeros, an ultra-durable stickbait manufactured by the parent company of what would eventually become Z-Man Fishing. That same year, Kehde fished with Japanese bass legend Shinichi Fukae on Beaver Lake. “Fukae was using the same method we had adopted, retrieving a jigworm a few inches off bottom, reeling and shaking as it went along. It gave further credence to our Midwest style of finesse bassin’.”

Not long afterward, Kehde became a major fan of Z-Man’s unique ElaZtech baits. To this day, his favorite remains a green pumpkin ZinkerZ stickworm, cut in half to 2-1/2-inches, or a single 2-3/4-inch Finesse TRD. Kehde impales both on a 1/16-ounce Gopher Mushroom Head jig or a 1/15-ounce Z-Man Finesse ShroomZ. Interestingly, Kehde cherishes red jigheads, a tip gleaned from finesse expert Fukae.