Lee Bailey Fishing Factors™

Lee Bailey Fishing Factors™ is an excellent collection of tactics, tips and tricks for bass by Lee Bailey Jr.

 

 

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February Florida bass fishing

February 6, 2024 by lbailey

February Florida bass fishing can be characterized by trophy catches and the spawn. Water temperatures have hit the right temperatures to initiate the spawn. Now is the time to cash in on some big bass fishing here in Florida.

Lee Bailey with an 11 plus largemouth and Jeff with a 6 plus. Caught in February Florida bass fishing

February Florida bass fishing water temperatures in the 50’s is considered really cold!

Wondering where you can catch your next personal best largemouth bass? Central Florida is the ultimate destination to search out some giant bass. This is a bass fishing paradise for all anglers. Getting outdoors is a must when visiting Florida and the beauty these fisheries can bring to your vacation will be unforgettable. Enjoy this February Florida bass fishing in search of trophy largemouth bass!

This is my favorite time of year for bass fishing here in Central Florida. The weathers nice but more importantly the bass are biting and they’re biting allllll day. That’s right, it doesn’t really seem to matter what time you go out you’re gonna catch them. I’ve been averaging 10 to 20+ fish a day on my guide trips! Some days more than that. Even after cold fronts. It’s unbelievable.

Central Florida is a bass fishing paradise for all anglers.

To begin with the fish are in all stages right now. There’s pre-spawn fish, spawning fish, and post-spawn fish. As always it doesn’t seem to matter what time of year it is the best concentration of big fish (and I’m talking real big fish 8 pounds and up). Central Florida’s lakes are absolutely full of maiden-cane, Kissimmee grass, lily pads and reeds. It ALL looks good and it looks like you can just go down any grass edge and catch them.

But if you do that you’ll quickly find out that’s not the case. When February Florida bass fishing what you have to look for is the best OF the best. What I mean by that is you have to find areas of mixed types of vegetation with cleaner water. Area’s with lily pads mixed with Kissimmee grass and reeds maybe with a little bit of submerged vegetation on the bottom with good water clarity.

Anywhere there is an edge of either weeds and/or shell beds will attract fish.

February Florida bass fishing water temperatures in the 50’s is considered really cold! Normally during December and January, you find it in the 60’s. In fact, it is not uncommon to find bass spawning as the New Year rolls in. Weather really dictates the patterns of the fish. 60-degree water is the pre-spawn time. When water temp hits the 70’s, the spawn will get heavy, but that is dependent on the weather. If it is a gradual climb in temperature, the spawn comes slowly. But if it reaches the 70’s with an obvious warming trend, then the spawn kicks in real fast; especially if a full moon coincides.

Bottom composition is key to finding productive fishing areas. A hard bottom is tricky to find because they are constantly being silted over. However, that is also what makes them so special. While 10 feet is considered deep on most Florida waters, five feet is mid-range. That mid-range is where to look for key structure. Seek out offshore grass flats at this depth, Hydrilla is a common weed, but reeds, lily pads, pencil reeds, and cattails also hold fish.

Anywhere there is an edge of either weeds and/or shell beds will attract fish. The edge can be a depth change, or just the edge of a weedbed.

Depth changes can also be great places, “Anywhere the bottom has been dredged can be a hot spot. The deeper water stabilizes, which is a big deal because so much of shallow water fluctuates. Fish can stack up here and hold all winter.”

Florida Bass Fishing Guided trips in Central Florida

See You On The River

This CT River Fishing Guidebook is the most comprehensive compilation of maps, Lees Lures and river Fishing Factors I have ever put together.

See You On The River 2nd addition by Lee Bailey Jr.

Strategies For Bass

Strategies For Bass paperback has the most impressive collection of up-to-date information, anglers will learn everything they need to know to catch more bass.

Strategies for Bass a 228 page book by Lee Bailey Jr.

Wintertime River Smallmouths

January 10, 2024 by lbailey

Angling for Connecticut’s wintertime river smallmouths is a paradox. The cold weather period is perhaps both the best time to catch trophy bronzebacks and the most likely time for fishermen not to even receive one bite. Here are tips from Lee Bailey Jr (Three time Bassmaster Classic Qualifier) on how to experience more of the former and less of the latter.

Wintertime River Smallmouths on the Connecticut River

“How many writers even suggest fishing for wintertime river smallmouths. Water temperatures are near freezing. Ambient temperature is so cold that you have to dunk your rods into the water to thaw the ice from the guides. Or when the water is so muddy that you can’t see the bottom half of a brightly colored 6-inch soft bait as you hold it at the surface of the water.”

Jigs, Tubes and crankbaits are excellent for Wintertime River Smallmouths.

Most river smallmouths need deep water to winter. In Connecticut and Massachusetts I have conducted tagging studies which revealed that smallmouths migrate up to 60 miles from summer to winter habitat. In many cases, the trip is much shorter, sometimes nonexistent, but a migration of some length is the rule. Most wintering sites on rivers are at least 5 – 20 feet deep up in the North sections of the Connecticut river.. Down the South end of the Connecticut, smallmouths tend to migrate shorter distances and sometimes stay in creeks all winter. They seek deeper water, but a wintering site doesn’t necessarily have to be 20 feet deep.

The Connecticut River doesn’t freeze everywhere during winter, active smallmouths tend to rise up and feed in shallower water. This is usually between 2 and 10 feet deep. Rock bars, gravel points, boulder fields, and shallow flats immediately adjacent to a wintering hole become activity sites. In high water, smallmouths will be on these same spots where they extend up onto the flood plain. The closer to shore, the slower the current becomes. In high, cold water, slack areas become key.

“Deep” is relative to latitude. “On the Connecticut River, ‘deep’ water can vary from 5 feet to over 10 feet,” “Just find the deepest water and scout the entire vicinity around it. Some great smallmouth rivers have long stretches of nothing but shallow water. Smallmouth will travel as far as it takes, sometimes miles, to find water deep enough to satisfy their comfort and safety zones. And they remain in these areas for weeks (up north, make that months).

A wintering site doesn’t necessarily have to be 20 feet deep.

“In winter, deep holes near a shoal or falls are perfect trophy smallmouth areas. In high, muddy water, concentrate on eddies formed by islands that end abruptly. Those ending in a gradual slope are usually too shallow and too swift to be comfortable for larger smallmouths. The holding area for smallies at the ends of these islands is much smaller underwater than they appear to be on the surface. Islands that end abruptly form the bigger, deeper, and slower holding areas trophy bass prefer. They remain in areas like these until river conditions return to normal.

“The Connecticut is an excellent destination for winter smallies because it has such diversified habitat and plenty of it,” “Fish don’t have to move long distances to winter. I typically locate new winter holes during the low water months when you can see the content of these areas better. Then I will go to them in the winter and check them out. Some work out, some don’t. Only time on the water will tell.”

Lastly, please be sure to always wear a lifejacket while wintertime fishing and check river gauges to make sure water levels are safe.

See You On The River

This CT River Fishing Guidebook is the most comprehensive compilation of maps, Lees Lures and river Fishing Factors I have ever put together.

See You On The River 2nd addition by Lee Bailey Jr.

Strategies For Bass

Strategies For Bass paperback has the most impressive collection of up-to-date information, anglers will learn everything they need to know to catch more bass.

Strategies for Bass a 228 page book by Lee Bailey Jr.

Find Early Prespawn Bass

December 26, 2023 by lbailey

Find Early prespawn bass fishing gives anglers an excellent opportunity to catch monster bass. As the bass emerge from their deeper wintertime haunts in preparation for the spawn. They are notoriously indiscriminate when it comes to their feeding behavior. The result is simply giant bass and lots of them.

Find Early prespawn bass fishing gives anglers an excellent opportunity to catch monster bass.

Although early prespawn bass can be quite predictable, it’s important to understand they’re like people in a sense each one exhibits unique behavior.
Whenever you approach the beginning stages of the prespawn, I suggest going through a thorough process of elimination.

While some folks like to start deep and work their way shallow, I am actually the polar opposite. I always target the backs of creeks and short pockets before I do anything else.

More importantly, however, I believe shallow water plays host to more bass than you might think.

It doesn’t matter where you go there are always going to be bass in shallow water. Will they be the ones to win a tournament? That really depends on the fishery, but shallow areas give me a complete overview of the water temperature which is a huge deal in the early prespawn.

Find Early Prespawn Bass with these important factors.

Every bass angler is guilty of it. After months of ridiculously frigid water temperatures, we become glued to our electronics, searching for the warmest water possible. This obsessive behavior isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but make sure to keep an open mind towards other important factors as well.

In my opinion, I think 50 degrees is the magic number for early prespawn movement. At that point, they are ready to move and make something happen. But there’s something much more important than water temperature. Their clock heavily correlates with the length of days and it’s an easy thing to overlook. You can have a brutal cold front come in and they will still be steadily moving up if the days are getting longer.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the various factors that influence the behavior of early prespawn bass, you’re ready to start catching. These are my hard to beat five areas.

  • Funnels
  • Primary points
  • Secondary points
  • Main lake flats
  • Backwater ponds

See You On The River

This CT River Fishing Guidebook is the most comprehensive compilation of maps, Lees Lures and river Fishing Factors I have ever put together.

Strategies For Bass

Strategies For Bass paperback has the most impressive collection of up-to-date information, anglers will learn everything they need to know to catch more bass.

Strategies for Bass a 228 page book by Lee Bailey Jr.

Late Fall Bass Fishing

December 10, 2023 by lbailey

Late Fall Bass Fishing during the transitional seasons of the year can sometimes seem challenging. With a few key late fall fishing tips, you can bump up your cool weather catch rates while using artificial baits and lures.

Late Fall Bass Fishing can be some fantastic bass catching action. The bass are feeding for the long winter. Shad and bait fish are slow and or dying making it easy for bass to feed. A passing front can trigger some of the best bass fishing action of the year. And a final bonus, there will not be many anglers on the water. Most are hunting, opening up the lake to anywhere you might want to try your hand at catching a bass of a lifetime.

Consider these Late Fall Bass Fishing pointers when heading out to your local spots:

Fishing Factors Late Fall Bass Fishing
  • Use search baits to cover more water. One of the most important fall fishing tips is to cover plenty of water versus spending too much time in one spot. Use search baits, like a crankbait, Binsky blade bait, swimbait or topwater, to quickly locate schools of bass that are chasing shad to fatten up for winter.
  • Fish the flats. Bass generally head into shallow water during the fall months. Check flats that are adjacent to grass beds, and try fishing in 3 to 6 feet of water with a few good fall fishing lures.
  • Note significant drops in water temperature. Another one of the best fall fishing tips is to consider the impact that a cold front will have on the activity level of bass during this time of year. As we transition into late fall fishing and see more significant drops in temperature. Shad will keep moving shallow and so will the big bass.

To sum up, these late fall fishing tips for big bass mean covering more water, fishing shallow flats near grass, downsizing after a temperature drop, and switching your lures if you’re not seeing enough action.

Now you can plan a day of fall fishing with your family,

Get ready for some late season fun on the water with Florida Bass Fishing Guide Lee Bailey Jr!

See You On The River

This CT River Fishing Guidebook is the most comprehensive compilation of maps, Lees Lures and river Fishing Factors I have ever put together.

See You On The River 2nd addition by Lee Bailey Jr.

Strategies For Bass

Strategies For Bass paperback has the most impressive collection of up-to-date information, anglers will learn everything they need to know to catch more bass.

Strategies for Bass a 228 page book by Lee Bailey Jr.

Baby Buzzbait Midsummer Bassing

December 6, 2023 by lbailey

Baby Buzzbait midsummer bassing begins after the hot weather has set in, bass fishing can be fantastic. Warm waters mean an increase in the metabolism of bass, which can lead to more frequent feeding activity. Additionally, Warm waters allow anglers to move faster and burn lures. The Baby Buzzbait™, not only works retrieving it directly by a bass. But also through the edges of their larger strike zones.

Baby Buzzbait™ midsummer bassing begins after the hot weather has set

It’s smaller size, especially the 1/4 oz size allows the bait to be sucked in the bass’ mouth deeper.

When bass are aggressive, anglers can choose between lots of different lure options. Methods and can often use their favorites to score. Still, the most efficient method is usually going to be a faster approach. Smaller -sized offerings are usually best, the water has an abundance of small prey at this time. Picking a lure that can be fished fast, such as a Baby Buzzbait™, spinnerbait, lipless crankbait, is a top option. Swim jigs paired with paddle-tail swimbaits and some blade baits can be good choices as well.

Buzzbaits may all look the same on the shelf, but each has its own special features

While standard-sized offerings can produce, be ready to quickly switch to smaller sized lures if the bite doesn’t pick up. Likewise, while a slower Baby Buzzbait™ midsummer bassing retrieve speed is best, if the standard and slow speeds don’t produce, be ready to radically increase the speed, even faster than the higher-speed approach common when summer bass are active. Burning lures at high speeds can play on the instincts of bass and cause them to attack lures when they normally wouldn’t with slower retrieves.

Baby Buzzbait midsummer bassing may all look the same on the shelf, but each has its own special features that will work better in different places. A basic buzzbait will simply spin the blade on the top of the water making a slight trail behind it and a slight noise as it moves. The Baby Buzzbait™ is the most compact size on the market today. It’s smaller size, especially the 1/4 oz size allows the bait to be sucked in the bass’ mouth deeper. This produces more bass in the boat, resulting in bigger creels and a lot of fun.

Lee Bailey Jr SLOW Baby Buzzbait

Summer Glide Bait Fishing

December 6, 2023 by lbailey

Summer Glide Bait Fishing is best when bass are in their main summer patterns, understanding what the fish want helps you plan your big-bite strategy. Here’s the skinny on proven giant-finding prowess.

One of those innovations over the past 10 years is the emergence of Glide baits. These oversized, hard-bodied fish imitators originally were created to mimic trout in California lakes, but have transformed into replicating large bass prey across the country. Glide baits can resemble trout/ gizzard shad/ perch and other types of fish that bass feed on.

Summer Glide Bait Fishing is best when bass are in their main summer patterns

Summer Glide Bait Fishing brings in the giants.

Summer is a prime time to fish Glide baits. For the most part, anglers have learned that these lures produce best in the late pre-spawn, and summer to late fall.

Summer Glide Bait Fishing requires a shift in perspective and expectations. The most important thing to remember is that the number of strikes you can expect go WAY down, especially as the size of the bait increases. For the most part, the most productive and popular sizes are 6-9 inches. Most of them will weigh between 2 and 6 ounces.

Glide bait areas are dependent of the type of cover and clarity available

Casting distance is critical. It is especially important to cast Glide baits as far as you can. Most of the time they are fished in cleaner water scenarios. As well, this gives the bass more time to find and tract your bait. While tracking the big ones in Summer Glide Bait Fishing . Most Glide baits have a built-in, wide side to side action when reeled straight in. Most experts with this technique prefer to work the bait almost like a jerkbait…twitching the bait to make it dart harder side to side.

Glide bait areas are dependent of the type of cover and clarity available on the lake you are fishing. Since you are targeting big bass, you must fish big bass areas. Some of the better Glide bait locations are bluff banks, steep channel banks, points, and over deeper grass beds. When approaching these areas, wind is your friend. Getting a Glide bait bite under calm conditions in the summer is exceedingly difficult.

Binsky In Late Summer

December 6, 2023 by lbailey

Binsky In Late Summer works so well when those bass move offshore and begin to school in deeper water, that’s when you can get your money’s worth out of this blade bait.

It’s a good bait for pressured or schooling fish. Bass don’t stop eating bait fish when the water gets warm, so continue to use a Binsky blade bait no matter what time of year it is. When it’s in the dead of summer, you might not be able to just pull up and drop-shot on a school of fish. But, if you use a Binsky, they eat it at first sight.”

Binsky In Late Summer works so well when those bass move offshore

A Binsky has the kind of versatility that you simply can’t get from a drop-shot.

A blade Bait is great to use in summer because it can sink like a rock to whatever depth you need it to/ You can get the reaction bite with it because it’s so fast and moves so quickly. It’s also a good casting bait to use when you’re waiting for topwater fish to blow up because it’s so heavy and you can throw it far.

A Binsky blade Bait is great to use in summer

Binsky In Late Summer is more effective than a suspending stickbait during this time because it can probe deeper and catch fish in the 30 to 40 foot range. Steep drop-offs along main and secondary points or creek channels in the major coves are the prime spots to introduce the metal Binsky to bass.

The best sizes to use for this blade bait are 1/2-ounce for depths under 20 feet and 3/4-ounce for probing deeper than 20 feet. After making a long cast, allow the bait to sink to the bottom on a slack line before starting your retrieve. You want to lift that bait just enough to where you actually feel it vibrate. Once you feel it vibrate then kind of let the lure pull back down on a more tight line to where it will pendulum out a little bit. You don’t want it to go straight up and down during your retrieve.

Make sure you work the lure all the way back to the boat because bass will frequently hit the lure right under the boat. Match the lure with a medium-heavy rod and baitcast reel filled with 15-pound fluorocarbon line.

Lees Spring Seasonal Approach

December 6, 2023 by lbailey

Lees Spring Seasonal Approach Guide is a system I’ve adapted to help find bass on unfamiliar waters. With spring arriving in most of the northern waters. The spawn completing in the south. I thought a spring time article from my book (Strategies For Bass) would be appropriate. As a retired touring pro, I fished all kinds of lakes and rivers in many regions throughout the year.

Fishing Factors Lees Spring Seasonal Approach

Some diehard early season fishermen know to head for the waters with current. Rivers and river system lakes will most often offer you some of the best early season bass fishing (especially smallmouths) in your area.

Obviously, I didn’t have time to become intimately familiar with each of these venues prior to tournament competition. When you only have three practice days. Unlocking the secrets of a large river system. You need some guidance. Helping you to quickly get on a viable fish catching pattern. Lees Spring Seasonal Approach provides that information, regardless of where or what part of spring I’m fishing. It helps me make educated guesses about where bass are most likely to be. You need to understand all stages of spring bass migration. It’s a system that quickly eliminates unproductive water and helps me home in on areas holding the most bass.

Lees Spring Seasonal Approach Pre-spawn: (48 to 55 degrees)

Some diehard early season fishermen know to head for the waters with current. Rivers and river system lakes will most often offer you some of the best early season bass fishing (especially smallmouths). There are things that are beginning to happen on these bodies of water in the spring that trigger the fish to begin this early season feed. The water temperature and the water level in river systems are on the rise. And we can all feel the suns rays are becoming stronger and more direct. All this is leading to an increased activity level for bait and bass.

Temperatures reaching into the mid to upper 50 degree mark will begin to trigger bass activity. Few however, acknowledge the fact that river smallmouths thrive in SPRING cold water (low 40’s) and will begin the spawn ritual before the water reaches the low 50’s. As mentioned earlier, even a slight increase in temperature is all that is needed to trigger the bites in a river system. A temperature rise from 38-43 degrees is a great temperature change for an early season river basser, especially if it happens over a period of only a few days. Bass will become extremely active during the first water temperature increase they encounter after a long cold winter.

Mid to upper 50 degree mark will begin to trigger bass activity.

Some of my best smallmouth catches on the Connecticut River happen in the early season. “One trip in particular was with a great friend of mine Don Sanzo. We were fishing an early season tournament. The river water temperature was hovering at a whopping 46 degrees. I had found these really big smallmouths holding on a shallow ledge in some of the shallowest and fastest water in the river. We ran 40 plus miles to get to those fish through rapids and some pretty nasty ledge only 18” deep to get there. When we arrived at this ledge we preceded to catch smallmouths from 3-4 pounds. As a matter of fact we hooked up on big smallmouths on the first 12 consecutive casts”. Not only did we have a great day of fishing but we won the tournament and set a standing record for the Connecticut River. A record setting 10 fish limit of smallmouth bass that weighed in at 31.14 pounds.

During this real cold water I prefer to use jigs

Some of the greatest early season smallmouth locations are shallow ledges of shale, gravel or hard packed sand adjacent to drop-offs with scattered rocks, brush and weeds that might have survived the winter. The rocky shore adds warmth to the water and awakens food (crawfish, insects and minnows). This hard bottom also has acted as a current break for these fish to stage near all winter. One thing is for certain rock ledges and shelves stay the same for the bass through-out the winter and high water periods. It is this consistency that makes ledges and rocks the best choice in the spring.

I will usually begin my fishing on these current waters with the water temperature being as low as 42 degrees. During this real cold water I prefer to use jigs, and tubes to entice these early pre-spawn smallies. Fishing however, becomes far better as the water temperatures reaches the mid 40’s, with the action reaching phenomenal proportions when the water temperature reaches the low 50’s. The smallmouths will bunch up in the above mentioned areas; these places will give you action all day. Some of the biggest smallmouths of the year are caught during the rivers early pre-spawn period.

Fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth

December 6, 2023 by lbailey

A trophy-sized Fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth is what drives us to spend so much time, energy and money on our passion.

“I find that Fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth always leads me to the upper part of rivers”.

Nearly 30 years ago, I was able to first connect the dots to my favorite river system and its tributaries. Without much known data to support my own theories, I sought out to understand why my favorite areas of the river system were loaded in May and June and mostly devoid of smallmouth thereafter. I struggled to understand why my river smallmouths were in abundance for 4 weeks out of the year, and then no longer present. For me I found the high water time in may and early June led me to the upper rive in the fastest water. It dwelled on me how highly migratory river smallmouth bass can be. If free to navigate without obstructions, they’ll migrate long-distance like all other river fish species are capable of.

I find that Fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth always leads me to the upper part of rivers. I mean the fastest and shallowest water with deeper pools adjacent to them. In pres-pawn they will bunch up in the 2 to 4 foot range. In rivers they are primarily feeding on crawfish. This is because the crawfish at this time are very lethargic. They are actually being sucked out of their holes in the banks. I can duplicate this fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth pattern on any headwaters

Fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth

Without river rat intuition and an extensive history with the river system, I could have otherwise blown through the staging pools unbeknownst and without ever testing them. It’s easy to ignore staging sites on rivers. Most anglers wouldn’t know how to identify one. Good spots like this one get revisited and used annually by the same fish.

Learn more in my new book “Strategies for Bass“.

Water temperature must be optimal as well. It’ll single-handedly influence a river migration in spring. 40 degree range, it’s too cold. At 48 to 52, we’ll finally find some smallmouth success, but only from isolated staging sites. Good luck ever locating them as 99% of the river will be vacant. Middle 50’s and slowly climbing, we’re getting hot! River’s loaded, and we’ll have a bonanza through spawn’s conclusion in early June where 50 fish a trip is to be expected.

Summer Bass Fishing Tips

December 6, 2023 by lbailey

Summer Bass Fishing Tips will show you that you need to get out early. Fish the shallows hard based on water temperatures and bait. Once it gets hot focus on deeper water where the water temperatures are lower and the bass have structure to ambush bait.

Bass behave in predictable ways based on temperature, food and available structure

I have mentioned this many times bass are a very predictable fish. In general, they will behave a certain way based on three main variables:

  • Water temperature
  • Available food supplies
  • Structure availability

Yes there are tons of other Fishing Factors™ that affect the way a bass or any fish will behave. These include barometric pressure, wind, rain,moon phases, water flow, etc. Almost year round, there’s a short window at the beginning and end of every day when the fish just bite better. The first hour is best quite often, because there are far fewer pleasure boaters on the water early compared to late in the evening,

Summer Bass Fishing Tips choices of preferred lures.

During these low-light hours both early and late, top-waters can be super productive. Choosing something like a buzzbait or a Whopper Plopper will allow you to cover as much water as possible,Maximize the number of bites you can get during these short windows of time.

But slower top-waters like walking lures, poppers and hollow body frogs also work well if you’re fishing targets. So you could choose to run around for that last hour and target laydowns with a Spook for instance. Or try to draw the fish up out of those laydowns that have been hunkered down all day.

BUT if you can figure out the three most important factors. Water temperature, available prey items and available structure, then you are 80% of the way to catching more bass.

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