By Mike Giles
The Meridian Star
Over the last 30 or so years one name has become synonymous with bass tournament fishing in the Mississippi Delta and that is Terry Bates. Bates spends more time on the water than most folks and enjoys fishing and winning tournaments. And in his spare time the accomplished angler enjoys guiding clients on Lake Ferguson and other Delta Oxbows for largemouths, and white bass. I’ve been a witness to Bates versatility over the last few years on trips to the Delta when Ferguson was at record lows, and record highs and seen the perennial winner catch bass during all conditions.
Whether the oxbow lakes are low, high, or normal, there’s a good chance Bates will find and catch fish among the flooded willows or cypress trees. And Bates is very proficient with crankbaits, Texas rigged worms, craws, jigs, and topwaters but his love, or his money bait would have to be a spinnerbait. Yes you heard it, a spinnerbait. While we’re not prone to fish those spinnerbaits after it gets hot or the fish go deep in this part of the world, it’s a money bait for Bates.
Delta lakes are sometimes murky and most are lined with cypress trees and willows, in shallow water, and have little other structure and Bates has become an expert at finding and catching four to six pound bass in them. Most tournaments take 18 to 22 pounds to win anytime you’re fishing the Delta oxbows be it Ferguson, Washington, Wolf, Bee Lake, Chotard, or almost any other lake.
“The good thing about living in Greenville is that we have so many good lakes to choose from,” said Bates. “If the fishing is down at one lake you have a bunch of other lakes to go to and catch fish in and there’s always a couple of hot lakes during the spring and summer.”
Bates knowledge of the lakes and bass fishing and what it takes to locate bass on the oxbow lakes can’t be overstated. He’s just that good! And the Bass Professor will tell you that he can take a blade bait and run it around all types of shallow cover and catch bass almost year round in the Delta. “I like to fish a large spinnerbait with big blades, and cover a lot of water and get bites from active bass,” said Bates. “If I can cover enough water I’m confident I’ll get enough bites from aggressive bass to catch a good sack of bass.”
One distinct difference from this bass angler and many others is that he fishes for big bass on tournament days. “I’m looking for 5 bites and 18 to 20 pounds of bass during a tournament day,” Bates said. “And if I get a kicker it might go 22 to 24 pounds and I’ll usually be in good shape!”
On a recent morning I witnessed Bates’ blade magic as he took a couple of spinnerbaits and continually caught quality bass around cypress trees, lay downs and grass. During the early morning hours he caught bass on one end of the oxbow lake by fishing a large chartreuse willow leaf spinnerbait with a Zoom trailer.
Later in the day we moved to a different area and encountered stained water and he switched to a dark colored spinnerbait with large Colorado blades and continued to catch lunker bass on the spinnerbait. Bates simply casts the spinnerbait around every available piece of cover and runs that bait into and around almost any wood cover he can find. And if there’s grass there, it’s all the better. Buzzing under the surface, or slow rolling deeper, it makes no difference; this Bass Professor can do it.
Bates dissects cover with the precision of a skilled surgeon and catches bass while doing it too. Terry Bates has a busy schedule, but he occasionally does a bit of guiding and teaching while he’s doing it. If you’re looking for information about fishing the mid-delta lakes, or want some firsthand instructions on bass fishing, then give Bass Professor a call and line up a guide trip. I can guarantee it will be the best money you’ve ever spent and you’ll have fun doing it. Call Terry at 662-390-3886.
Contact Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org