"THIS WEEK IN THE OUTDOORS" by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton BASS ON NESTS - A call from Nucanoe Dealer Johnny Ross in Sulphur Springs confirmed what a fishing trip close to my home had indicated: largemouth bass are on their beds and shallow water fishing is the name of the game. Regardless whether youre fishing at heralded largemouth hotspots such as Fork, Lake Brownwood or Fairfield, you will want to concentrate most of your efforts in shallow water. This is the time of year when a shallow draft craft such as the Nucanoe that Ross fishes from allows access to prime waters. Last week, we were catching bass from water as shallow as 18 inches. We paddled back into some areas that were packed with spawning bass. The Nucanoe draws only 2 inches of water and can get you to areas that bass fishermen in bigger boats simply cannot go. The boats are very stable, and 42 inches across the beam. tips Ross. Regardless how you choose to access those backwater shallows where bass are now present in large numbers, keep in mind that you dont necessarily have to sight fish for bass on nests. Truthfully, we catch more bass that are cruising the shallows, staging around lay down logs and brush, than on nests. added Ross. Remember, bass are now in all stages of the spawn, some are locked down on nests, some male bass are busy making nests and some females are already in post-spawn. If you are in a new area looking for bass, concentrate on the warmest water you can find, often in the backs of creeks, at depths of 2-4 feet. When asked his favorite lure for catching bass during the spawn, Johnny emphatically replied Texas rigged lizard. No doubt, soft plastic lizards do a good job of imitating the salamander which predates heavily on the eggs and fry of largemouth bass. As far as colors go, the basic black/red lizard is always a good choice but other patterns such as pumpkinseed or moccasin pattern can also be highly effective. Shallow diving crankbaits can also be effective in catching shallow water bass. A slow, stop-and-go retrieve often works best, pulling the baits just fast enough to cause them to wobble. Very often the strike comes the instant the bait pauses, or is pulled under the surface a few inches by a gentle sweep of the rod. Photo by Luke Clayton SLOW is the name of the game when fishing lizards for shallow water bass. Ross likes to drag the baits along bottom slowly and when they arrive at a bit of likely structure such as lay down logs or stick ups, he stops the bait and shakes his rod tip. This causes the baits to shake or quiver in place and the movement is often more than the bass can stand. To learn more about fishing from the Nucanoe, go to www.brightstarclassics.com or call Johnny Ross at 903-885-8485. DRUM RUN UNDERWAY ON TEXAS COAST - Capt. Mike Williams has fished the bays and close in waters around Galveston for more years than anyone alive, or dead for that matter. In a recent interview with Capt. Mike, he verified what I had assumed; that the annual Black Drum Run is in full swing. The best action has been around the Galveston Jetties but reports are good from many of the fishing piers as well. The best bait is quarter sections of fresh blue crab and the bite best on a moving tide. Capt. Mike reports his clients have already landed drum up to 45 pounds and catches of 15-25 fish weighing between fifteen and thirty pounds is common. The steady act should continue until mid April when fishing usually gets really good for trout and redfish. For more information, contact Capt. Mike Williams at www.galvestonfishingguides.com or call 713-723-1911 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ OUTDOOR TIP OF THE WEEK: VENISON BACON - I recently interviewed Mike Pullen with Frisco Spices (www.friscospices.com) for my weekly outdoors radio show and learned a new way to make bacon that puts ground venison to good use. I prepared ten pounds of venison bacon earlier this week and found it easy to make. The finished product was the tastiest bacon Ive eaten, and about eighty percent lean. Chances are good you have some ground venison in your freezer from the past hunting season, heres how to turn it into some very tasty bacon: Mix 5 pounds ground venison with 5 pounds ground pork jowl (available at your local butcher or Frisco Spices) with the packet of cure/seasonings from Frisco Spices (Hickory or Maple Bacon seasoning). Mix by hand at least 6 minutes, making sure to blend the seasonings well. Refrigerate overnight and form into 5 two-pound loaves about two inches thick (like a slab of bacon). Make sure to tightly pack the meat by hand when forming the loaves. Place in your smoker and smoke 1.5 hours at 120 degrees, crank the thermostat up to 130 and smoke another hour, then smoke an hour at 140 degrees and another hour at 150 degrees. Then turn up your smoker to 160 degrees and raise internal temperature to 140). Do not overcook. Refrigerate overnight before slicing into bacon size strips. Fry or microwave until crunchy like bacon. I do almost all my outdoor cooking on my Smokin Tex (www.smokintex.com) electric smoker but any smoker that permits slow smoking that is controlled with a thermostat will work. For more information, call Mike Pullen at Frisco Spices at 1-800-762-6689. Check out the instructional video at www.catfishradio.com ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ GOBBLERS GOBBLING - My friend Mike Ford up in Red River County is predicting an excellent season for hunting the eastern turkey. Weve heard several gobblers sounding off but I expect the gobbling to intensify in the next week. They (gobblers) have broken up from the bachelor groups and many now are with hens. All it will take for a great opener of the season (April 1 for eastern birds) is a couple days of warm weather. A warming trend just before the season opener seems to jump start the breeding season. Up in Jack County, Wes Winget at the Richards Ranch (www.richardsranchtexas.com) says hes been hearing gobblers sound off for several days now and hes expecting a banner season. We have lots of birds and a good number of jakes. Spring conditions were dry last spring and in many areas of the state the hatch was below average but things are looking good here, both for young birds and mature gobblers. tips Winget. Out in Schleicher County near Eldorado, Kerry Joy at the Joy Ranch says there are tons of turkey on the ranch and hunting should be as good as ever. We seem to have had a pretty good hatch last year, there are lots of year old turkey, as well as plenty of mature gobblers, which are just now breaking up from their winter flocks. John Bryan in Palo Pinto County, on the Holt River Ranch (www.holtriverranch.com) says it appears numbers of jakes are below average but for the past few weeks, he is seeing groups of four to six gobblers running together. This should change any day now, its time for the gobblers to become solitary and go on the prowl for hens. We have a good number of longbeards on the ranch and if this year is like the past few, hunting should be at its peak early in the season. Last year, by the end of April, it was tough to get a gobbler to respond to calling. Photo by Luke Clayton ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Want some new wild game recipes and so much more? Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton for a new show each week at www.catfishradio.com and check out the new fishing videos at lukeshotspots.com Contact Luke at firstname.lastname@example.org The BOC has a virtual library of Luke's stories right here on the forums; just about anything you could want to read about the outdoors. Click here to see a boat load of information!