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First off, "jaw droppers" get to be that way because they have avoided fishermen their whole lives, and have probably been educated a few times.  But, they still have to eat, and have brains smaller than a quarter and can be caught.

Three suggestions:
1.  Spend as much time as possible on a given body of water.  If you don't have a lot of time to fish, fish the same lake and learn something every time.  Eventually you will find a kink in the armor of the big fish there.  Once you find some big fish, they will most likely be there often, as the best feeding locations are held by the biggest fish.

2.  Don't spend too much time in one spot.  A lot of people are too patient, thinking that if they stay in one place a big fish will eventually come by.  That's true to a certain extent, but you can speed up the process and go to them.  Bounce around a lot when you're out there - often a big fish will be caught on the first cast at a new location.

3.  Be knowledgable about the food found in a given body of water.  Also, be able to relate the forage to the structure you're fishing.  If you're fishing around large boulders, try a crawdad immitaion, if you're fishing over a weedbed use a minnow immitation etc.

You can use these suggestions to help improve your odds, but nothing beats just being in the right place at the right time!
 

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You bet I'm targetting big fish!  ;)

But I have spent sooo much time on a few bodies of water that I will hit spots 1-5 at a given pond/lake and a big ole bass will be in one of those spots almost every time.  And interestingly, it's almost always a different fish (it's almost like they just rotate through)I always struggle when I try new water but the challenge is always exciting!

So let's talk narrow "big fish" down to just bass.  Here's a couple of things I look for in new water.

1.  Shallow areas (1-5ft).  These areas are the "food factories" of ponds/lakes.  The transition area from shallow to deep will almost always hold big fish.  Don't get distracted by all the 12" bass that will be visible in the shallows.  Start fishing where you can't see the bottom anymore.
2. Shoreline topography that most likely extends into the water.  Look for ridges/troughs starting above the body of water and imagine how they extend into the body of water.  In some waters, these features provide structure in an otherwise featureless bottom.
3.  Use your polaroid glasses to spot up structure that is barely visible.  If the water is clear enough, this structure will probably be ~ 8 ft deep - a perfect depth for a big ole bass to chill at.  Deep structure is a very good thing!
4.  Water sources.  Does the lake/pond have an outlet?  If so, is there an inlet?  Inlet areas are alway productive, and seem to at least briefly hold the attention of cruising hawgs.  This is one type of place to spend a little extra time.  If there is no inlet, then there must be underwater springs...find them!

Those a just a few points to consider.  As far as lures, here's a few that are great to use until the go-to lure is found:

1.  Mister Twister 6" Purple plastic worm (Gods gift to bassfishing).  Nothing fancy, just a single split shot ~ 12" above the hook.
2.  1/4 and 1/8 oz white spinnerbaits, single colorado blade(clear water = silver, stained water = gold).  Nothing fancy here (no triple willow blades, holographic images etc)
3.  Shad-Raps.  
4.  Rattle-traps.  

You can probably tell that I'm already getting excited about spring bass fishing this year...I hope this helps, it's definately something to think about during the offseason  :)
 

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Michael in Parker said:
Is there common characteristic  you have noticed when you have caught the bigger bass i.e nightime, deep water, presentation, structure, lure size, etc. ?
nightime = anything goes. The best time to find big fish off of structure and in shallow water swimming around with their mouths open. Spinnerbaits, spinnerbaits, spinnerbaits.

deep water = during the daytime, definately. But I focus more on the shallow/deep transition areas ~ 10-15' for bass. This is the easiest areas to fish for me since I don't have a boat, and can't find/target fish suspended in 20+ feet of water.

presentation = nope, location is more important. If your doing things right you'll catch small fish too.

structure = definately. Find structure, and you'll find the big fish (especially if it's not obvious to everyone else)

lure size = yes and no. Yes, big fish love BIG lures. You can also weed out a lot of the small guys by upsizing. However, I can't count how many big bass I've caught on tiny rapalas and 1/8 oz spinnerbaits designed for crappie.
 
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