Outdoors

Tips from a pro

* Now's the time to catch big Kansas bass, when they're feeding up for the spawn, Chapman said. The females are also going to weigh more than ever because they're full of eggs. Chapman expects the best action to be during the next two weeks or so.

* Crankbaits and other lures in crawfish patterns are great now since they're the most common forage for bass.

* Become as versatile as possible. Don't get stuck with one style of fishing, even if it's working well at the time. "If things are coming easy you aren't learning anything," Chapman said. "Learn all you can because there will be days your favorite way of fishing won't be working."

* Look for any kind of structure and fish it well, whether it's a mat of floating leaves or a boat dock. "A bass is a bass no matter where it's at," Chapman said. "They're going to relate to some sort of cover."

* Chapman suggests drop-shot rigs. That's where the weight's tied to the bottom of the line and the lure, usually a plastic jig or worm, is 12 to 24 inches higher. "Your bait is suspended right off the bottom, right in a fish's face," he said. "That looks a lot more life-like than some lure with its nose buried in the weeds or mud."

* Be organized. Know where particular lures are located and replace them immediately if lost. Also, give your equipment regular maintenance when at home. "If you're digging around to find something in your boat, you're not fishing," Chapman said. "But be sure to carry spare equipment in case you need it. I always have a spare trolling motor in my boat when I'm fishing a tournament."

* Chapman usually uses a Palomar knot to attach most lures. It's easy, quick and strong.

* Find places where you can go catching instead of just fishing. "We all need those places where we know we'll catch a lot of bass, even if they're really small," Chapman said. "That's where you can really learn to use new techniques and build your confidence."

* Chapman urges anglers to fish as many different waters as possible rather than relying on well-known waters. He suggests anglers explore the ponds and lakes of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks FISH public-access program.

* Adding habitat to favored waters can certainly help fishing. Wednesday, Chapman caught several bass near artificial sunken structures made of PVC pipe. He caught a fish of about 4 pounds from a cedar tree he'd sunk beside his private dock.

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