Setting the Stage

Setting the Stage

Staging areas can differ from one lake to the next but factors that prompt bass to use them will always be the same.

Story and photography by Matt Williams

I’ve heard some great fishing stories over the years from Texas’ long list of legendary bass pros.  One of my favorites was hatched by Randy Dearman of Onalaska.

Dearman is a six-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier and BASS Central Divisional winner. He cut his bass fishing teeth on Lake Livingston in eastern Texas.

The year was 1970-something and the former fishing guide was fishing “The Jungle,” a legendary area so named because of the dense maze of standing timber left standing before the lake was built.

Dearman had motored to the interior of the woods, where he had previously discovered a small opening formed by an old hay pasture. The water was slick as glass that day, except for the occasional ripple of bait fish dimpling the surface.

It didn’t stay that way for long.

The guide dropped his trolling motor and creeped to the center of the still-water pocket. He reached for his topwater rod and looked at his client, an elderly man from up north.

“You ready to see some fish?” Dearman asked.

“Sure,” he nodded.

Dearman performed the unexpected when he dropped to his knees, placed his rod tip in the water and began ripping it in tight circles.

“That guy looked at me like he thought I was crazy,” Dearman recalled. “He asked what I was doing and I told him to watch and he would find out.”

Within minutes, the slick surface transformed into a virtual blood bath as a burly group of school bass launched a vicious attack on a hapless band of shad. The men capitalized on the frenzy by filling their limits in less than 30 minutes.

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