Archive for bass fishing techniques

Jigs in Cold Water

By Marc Rogers

 

Winter Jig Fishing for Bass

Cold water causes the metabolism of bass to slow drastically compared to the warmer water of spring through fall. When fishing for bass during the cold season anglers should remember to slow down their presentation to be effective. One of the best lures for a slow cold water presentation is the skirted jig.

Bass sometimes don’t feed more than once per week during the winter season. A big profile jig with a full skirt and large trailer is often the best choice for winter fishing. The large profile gives the impression of a large meal requiring less effort from the bass to get a filling meal. Some anglers prefer a rubber-skirted jig instead of a silicone skirt as rubber skirts are more full and billow out during a slow presentation.

For many years a lot of anglers choice of jig trailers for cold water was the pork frog. The natural pork skin is more buoyant than soft plastic and can provide more action at a slower retrieve. The disadvantage of natural pork trailers is they will dry out if not kept wet during use. They can’t be left on a jig and stored on the deck while not in use for long periods of time.

Soft plastic trailers became popular for their ease of use but many anglers still resisted their use in colder waters. Anglers felt buoyancy of the pork trailers helped to achieve a slower presentation than a soft plastic trailer. However, the newer designs of soft plastic trailers are becoming more popular each season. The newer designs have hollow bodies to help with the buoyancy problems of solid body trailers.

Midwest Fishing Tackle Pro-Staff members Alton and Aaron Hunter use the NetBait Paca Chunks exclusively for jig trailers. They say the flat craws create great action with a lift and fall presentation. Aaron uses a lift and fall presentation even in cold water and says, “I just let the lure sit still a little longer when paused to give the bass a longer opportunity to pick it up”. Aaron seldom presents a jig with a dragging motion as he feel the jig gets the attention of the bass when lifted even though they will not generally strike a fast moving lure.  Aaron says, “the NetBait Paca Chunk is made of very soft plastic and tears easily but the extra trailers used in a day is worth the added action they produce”.

Many anglers use jigs in cold-water conditions. However, many present the lures to fast for the lethargic bass. You should use a slow dragging presentation or a modified, slow lift and drop retrieve when the bass will allow for the faster action. It is always best to start with a slower presentation during cold-water conditions. If the bass appear to be active relative to the colder water you can experiment with a little faster retrieve.

There are many styles of jig heads available to choose from. However, for rock covered bottoms my choice is a football head design. This design will not hang in the rocky bottom as most other styles of jig heads. Also, the hook eye is positioned so the knot isn’t exposed to the cover and damaged resulting in broken lines once a fish is hooked. My personal choice of jigs is the Midwest Custom Jigs Football jig.  The 60-degree bend on the hook eye aids in keeping the knot from making contact with the bottom causing damage to the knot.

During cold-water conditions many lures can be effective in catching bass. However, when bass are looking for one big meal to sustain their needs with little effort a crawfish meal can’t be beat. Crawfish are high on the list for food during cold-water conditions as they provide a nutritional meal, are abundant during cold-water when baitfish are harder to find. Crawfish are slower moving and easier for the bass to catch when looking for a meal.

Don’t be discouraged to fish for bass during cold-water conditions, as they will bite.  Try a jig next time out and slow down the presentation. Experiment with the presentation but start slow as the bass’ metabolism is slowed down and they require less food during these conditions.

Flipping and Pitching Soft Plastic Lures

By Marc Rogers

 

Flipping and Pitching for Bass

Often times when anglers talk of flipping and pitching they are referring to presenting a jig. However, many of the most productive lures for this presentation are soft plastics. The traditional flipping jigs did not penetrate the thick vegetation and the bullet slip sinker could only be pegged to the line, thus causing the possibility of line damage.

Soft plastics are often overlooked for flipping and pitching because the traditional slip sinker created a problem when the sinker would not stay attached to the head of the plastic bait. Many years ago Gambler Lures solved this problem when they introduced the Florida Rig line of bullet style sinkers. These sinkers looked similar to the traditional bullet sinker but possessed a major difference. The sinkers were made with a small tube for the line to pass through and a wire spring molded into the sinker.

This spring allowed the sinker to be screwed into the head of the bait connecting them together. This simple yet unique design prevented the lure and sinker from separating in heavy cover resulting in missed bass.

Shortly after the introduction of this sinker a rattling model was offered as well. Both revolutionized the art of flipping and pitching soft plastic lures in any type of cover. Today Gambler Lures offers this line of sinkers in lead, rattling and tungsten.  A newer version called the Goop Weight is also offered in lead, rattling and tungsten models. The Goop Weight grips the line with a special insert and includes a line threading tool.

While bass fishing in Florida in the early 1990’s I was introduced to this sinker by a Lake Okeechobee guide and have had them in my tackle boxes ever since. I use them almost exclusively when presenting soft plastics. The Florida Rig Sinkers are the most versatile soft plastic sinker on the market for anglers.

The Florida Rig Sinker combined with the Gambler Paddle Tail Worm has become my lure of choice when flipping and pitching plastic worms to heavy cover. The paddle tail worm has just the right amount of action and gets down into the cover quickly. There are two model of this worm to choose from in both a five and eight inch length. Another great lure from Gambler for this technique is the Crawdaddy. The Crawdaddy is my favorite for Ozark Lakes and streams where crawfish are a major food source for Smallmouth bass.

Another benefit I have discovered using the Gambler Florida Rig Sinker occurs after a bass is hooked.  With traditional slip sinkers the weight sometimes slides up the line from the lure and allows the bass more leverage to dislodge the hook. With this sinker the rig stays together and very near the hook helping to eliminate the bass using the weight for leverage.

Some anglers have expressed the sinkers cause the soft plastic lures to tear more at the head when using this sinker but Gambler solved this problem with the Goop Weight mentioned earlier. Personally I do not think there is a better system for presenting soft plastic baits for bass.

Fishing Vertical Edges can be Very Productive

By Marc Rogers

 

Bass Fishing Bluffs

Many anglers pass by some very productive areas in lakes while traveling to their fishing destinations each and every day. Some head off to shallow flats while others prefer long extended points in deeper water. To some extent the type of water available in each lake determines the type of areas fished. In Florida most waters are shallow due to the make up of the surrounding terrain. Lake Okeechobee has common lake level at 14 feet above sea level. However, Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri, has a normal summer pool of 915 feet above sea level. Anytime bluff walls are available in a body of water anglers should give serious consideration to fishing them.

Bluff walls have most any type of situations anglers may be looking for when fishing. Bluffs can be fished shallow by targeting the areas where the surface water meets the bluff as well as fished deep by presenting a lure in a vertical presentation. Many submerged points and rock edges (shelves) are also available on bluff walls. Furthermore, they generally are located on an outside river channel swing, which is sometimes an ideal area to catch fish.

Most bluff walls don’t fall off into really deep water immediately. They have a stair step process down to the deepest water. This is where the edges are created and often time hold concentrations of fish.  This allows the fish to move in the water column to their preferred depth without having to move long distances. They can move up and down while still having the luxury of maintaining a close distance to cover. Keep in mind that most bluffs also have submerged trees that once grew out of the sides of them before the lake was impounded. These trees are great cover for most any game fish.

A variety of lures can be used while fishing bluff walls. Both crankbaits and spinnerbaits are ideal for retrieving along the face of a bluff while maintaining a preferred depth. Allowing th ese lures to deflect off the submerged trees can often trigger reaction strikes from fish as well.

Jigs are also a great lure to use in these areas. Jigs can be cast perpendicular to the water’s edge and worked slowly out into deeper water while allowing the lure to rest on the submerged rock shelves. The most common mistake made when fishing bottom bouncing lures on bluff walls is an angler may take up to much line during the retrieve. With a jig resting on a rock ledge the angler will lift the rod tip and turn the reel handle while the lure is falling. This will bring the lure out into deeper water and often keep it from resting on the next ledge.

To eliminate this problem the angler should allow the lure to fall on a semi-tight line until it makes contact with the next ledge. A semi-tight line is necessary to allow the angler to feel strikes while the lure is falling. Also, it pays to be a line watcher in this situation. Many times a slight twitch in the line will indicate a fish has picked up the lure on the fall.

The draw backs of using any bottom bouncing lure on bluffs is the tendency for them to get hung up on the edges of rocks as well as lodged in the many crevices in the structure. I have found a football type jig head is the least likely to get stuck in these areas.  A jig head with a 60-degree bend in the hook eye will also lessen the chance of your line and knot from getting damaged by the rough terrain. My jig of choice for this style of fishing is an Midwest Custom Tackle Football Jig.

A shaky head jig presentation has become very popular over the last couple of years. I have incorporated this presentation into bluff fishing as well. These types of jig head used in combination with a small worm or crawdad lure are excellent choices for bluff fishing. A spinning outfit is best used in this situation because it allows anglers to opt for lighter line and the bail of the reel can be easily opened to allow a lure to free fall along the bluff. Keep in mind that a shaky head presentation is really just a different form of fishing a more traditional jig.

One of my favorite shaky heads is the Gambler Giggy Head with a Gambler Giggy Stick or Crawdaddy attached. The Gambler Giggy Head is designed so the head of the lure is pushed onto a barb, which is molded, into the head and then the hook is inserted into the bait. This design allows the lure to easily come free from the jig head when a fish strikes and keeps the lure from balling up on the hook point.  This jig head has helped me to catch more fish where other jig heads would have had the hook point covered with the lure due to it sliding down the hook. When using a football shaky head I reach for a Midwest Custom Tackle Football Stand-up model.

There are countless ways to present lures on bluff walls. Use your favorites and don’t be afraid to experiment with others. Bluffs can be fished on the water’s surface down to the dark depths. Just remember these area hold almost all of the type of cover and structure anglers like to fish but concentrate them into much smaller areas.

Fishing the Post-Spawn for Bass

By Marc Rogers

 

Post Spawn Bass Fishing

The cold months of winter are only a memory while the spawn is just ending. Catching bass during this transition from spawn to post-spawn is one of the most difficult times for many anglers to catch fish. The female bass have moved off to deeper water while the males are just finishing up guarding the nests.

While the males were aggressive guarding the nests and some were caught on lizards and crawfish lures the females were somewhat less aggressive in the deeper water between spawn and summer patterns.

A very good starting point for catching post-spawn bass is to find areas where the fish will travel from spawning areas to the post-spawn areas. Submerged timberlines are great areas where fish travel from spawn to post-spawn areas. Midwest Fishing Tackle Staff Member Aaron Hunter says “I watch for timber lines, ditches and roadbeds that will provide cover for the larger females while making their move from spawning areas to the post-spawning areas.” Aaron says he learned this technique from a guide while fishing the first time on Lake Fork in Texas.

In lakes void of timber the angler should concentrate on submerged ditches that offer a couple of feet depth change from the surrounding areas. I agree with Aaron because just this last year while fishing Patoka Lake in Southern Indiana I found the bass to be almost non-existent for the first day of fishing. However, on the second day I located an old creek channel that was about 8 feet deeper than the flat it ran through and was able to catch bass consistently.

The creek channel in Patoka Lake was about 1 mile long and meandered through a flat so I used marker buoys to mark the channel about every 50 yards and fished the drop of the old channel. A ¾ ounce jigs was the lure to produce the most fish this day in late May. This lure was heavy enough to allow me to stay in contact with the bottom of the lake and feel the drop in the creek channel.

Aaron says he prefers to use spinner baits in these areas so “I can slow roll it through the timber and hop it along the ditch line.”  He reports he allows the spinner bait to free fall from the top of the drops into the deeper water while still maintaining feel of the lure. “You must be able to feel the blades spinning or you are not keeping the line tight enough.” Locating a good shad population in there areas is the key to success. While the females will use these areas to travel most will not stay there long if an abundance of food is not present. They are in need of food after the spawning process.

With shad present in the areas a white or chartreuse spinner bait is ideal. The white lure will be similar to the shad while the chartreuse will be a closer match of bluegill. The angler should let the blade color be decided by the water-color and light conditions.

Aaron is a regular on a few tournament circuits including the Joe Bass Team Trail and Anglers in Action where his father Alton is his partner. The two of them will target the more aggressive males while first trying to fill a limit during a tournament. After they have caught their limit they will move out to the areas Aaron calls “highways” where the females travel to deeper water after laying their eggs in the nest.

The father/son team has found a tournament can’t be won on a limit of legal male bass. The winners must have at least one good kicker fish that is usually a large female. Aaron says “I don’t feel comfortable going to the scales without at least two good females in my live well at the end of the day.”
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Finesse Fishing for Bass

By Marc Rogers

 

Finesse Fishing for Bass

There are countless techniques available to catch bass, but finesse fishing techniques are often overlooked by many anglers. Many anglers often use the term finesse fishing without really understanding its application. To most it means using techniques that require lighter lures and line, often using spinning equipment. This is a generally accepted definition but does not clearly state several of the most popular finesse techniques.

Many anglers immediately picture spinning equipment in their minds when hearing the words finesse fishing. It is true that spinning equipment is a great way to present small, light lures to bass but bait-casting equipment can be just as effective when using finesse techniques. Medium and Medium-Light action rods are required when using bait-casting equipment because a limber rod is essential to casting the light lures used. Rods with heavier action will be ineffective when attempting to make casts with light lures.

My favorite finesse fishing lures are small jigs, often called finesse jigs, and small plastic lures including worms and crayfish imitators. I use these primarily on small rivers and streams as well as heavily pressured impoundments. Bass that are bombarded with large, noisy lures everyday often times tend to ignore the larger offerings. Some anglers think it is because the bass learn to associate these lures with danger from getting hooked. However, I think it is because the bigger lures are easier for the bass to see the details in the offerings and can distinguish them from real forage. The smaller lures, especially in clear water, do not allow the bass to get a good look at the lures and therefore they look more natural in the water.

When using finesse jigs it is best to let the water clarity dictate what color of lure is chosen. Dark color lures are more visible to bass in dirty or stained water while lighter colors are visible in clear water and do not look out of place in the natural setting.  For dirty or stained water a black or black and blue jig is a great choice. When fishing clear water, natural crayfish colors are the best choices.  These color choices apply to plastic worms and plastic crayfish as well.

Presenting these lures where current is available in rivers and streams it is best to keep the presentation slow. Slowly lifting the lure off of the bottom and letting it fall naturally, while allowing the current to move it, will produce the best results. When a rod tip is lifted six inches it creates a lot of movement at the end of the line. If an angler lifts a rod tip 18 inches it could move the lure three feet along the bottom. It is best to make short lifting actions to create a natural movement at the end of the line. Crayfish do not hop off the bottom when traveling in the water they will crawl slowly and only move large distances if a predator is in pursuit. There are times when a fast erratic retrieve will trigger reaction strikes but most often the slower retrieve is the most productive.

If the bass are not reacting to a finesse jig a good back-up technique is a shaky worm. Shaky worms are small finesse worms, generally five inches or less in length, with straight tails. They feature small diameter bodies and appear to have little action. When teamed with a shaky head jig they create enough action to entice a bass. The worms are best when cast and left to settle on the bottom without any added action. Once they settle, anglers should gently shake the lure while trying not to move it along the bottom. This presentation creates action in the tail of the lure and allows it to gently move back and forth. Many times it may take 15 seconds or more to get a bass to strike shaky worms using this technique. The shaky worm color choices should also be darker colors for dirty or stained water and lighter, natural colors for clear water.

There are many styles of shaky jig head available. My personal choices include a Midwest Custom Tackle Football Stand-up Shaky Head. The spring lock is used to secure the soft plastic lure to the jig head.  Then the hook point is inserted into the worm making it weedless like a Texas rigged worm. The other choice is a Gambler Giggy Head and is rigged the same way. The major difference is the Gambler Giggy Head has a double barbed point protruding from the bottom of the jig head and allows the lure to easily pull away from the jig head on a hook set. This feature helps to prevent the lure body from filling the hook gap.

When fishing pressure is at its peak during the busy summer months on your favorite lake presenting these micro-sized bass lures can save you from an unproductive day. However, do not discount the big bass catching ability of small lures. Also, if you are fishing for more numbers of bass instead of a few big ones, these small offering tend to produce better results. In small streams and rivers where the forage is generally smaller finesse lures are a great choice as well.

Developing a Game Plan For Unfamiliar Waters

By Marc Rogers

 

Bass Fishing Tips for New Water

Your fishing trip has been planned for many weeks.You and your favorite fishing partner have gone over every detail to assure nothing has been forgotten. The night before leaving you will find it hard to sleep. The thoughts of where and how you will catch the fish have been filling your mind most of the night. The reasons for the meticulous planning are because you have limited time on the water and you have never been on the body of water you are about to visit.

When most anglers arrive at an unfamiliar body of water they have already obtained as much information about it as possible. Anglers are notorious for knowing what the fish are being caught on before they ever leave home. We will have our whole weekend planned around how others have caught fish at our destination. However, the information we receive may not be current or even correct. The information may have come from a newspaper fishing report that is only as good as its source.While I was on a guided trip in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, the guide told me when the local newspaper and radio stations contact him he will either tell them the productive lures or the areas, but never both. The best way to avoid the problems of other angler’s information is to listen but remember it is not etched in stone. Fishing is a very dynamic sport where productive methods can change in a very short time.

Many anglers feel that most productive fishing days are the result of a systematic, analytical approach. The best way to get started is to eliminate as much water as possible; break down the whole area into many small areas; eliminate water considered very deep for the particular body of water. Bass are generally more active when positioned in shallow water. The most important things to consider when developing a game plan are the type of water you are fishing, the time of the year, water condition, and weather condition.

The type of water will play a major role in the areas and lure types I begin with. When I refer to type of water these questions arise. Are you going to fish a shallow lake or river where anglers consider deep water ten feet or more; are you visiting a mid-land reservoirs where there are lots of small creek and a few large river channels present; or is your destination a high-land lake where there are sheer bluff walls and deep, clear water? The answer to this question is the first step in a series of items you must consider. The others, though they seem simple, are major pieces to the puzzle.

The time of year must be considered. Fish will behave certain ways during particular seasons. During winter months the water temperature is cold and the fish are lethargic. In the summer fish tend to be the most active but can become lethargic when the water temperatures rise to extremes and the oxygen levels fall. Water condition, particularly temperature and clarity, must be thought about carefully. Bass are a cold blooded creature and their metabolism is directly affected by the water temperature they live in while water clarity dictates how well and far fish can see in the water. All of these things play a part in the sport we call fishing. When you arrive at your destination consider all the things mentioned and use past experiences to get started. Also, look for areas like points, roadbeds, ledges and breaks, underwater humps, and ditches. These types of structures have proven to hold concentrations of fish.

Points have long been a productive place for anglers.Bass use them for migrations routes and staging areas when traveling between deep water. As air and water warm in the spring bass move up from deeper water into shallow areas to spawn. During the summer they will often travel from deep to shallow water on a daily basis. They will move to the shallow areas at night as the surface water cools and return to deep water as temperatures began to rise during the day time hours. Points have long been a favorite of both the bass and the angler.

Bass use roadbeds as migration routes and anglers can easily find them. A good topographical map is an excellent tool for finding roadbeds, but a keen eye on the bank of most reservoirs will most often do just fine. These areas will offer cover to the bass in the form of broken asphalt and concrete, gravel, ditches along the side of the old road, and an occasional bridge. The flat area of the roadbed becomes an avenue for both bait fish and the bass. Also, roadbeds are prime spawning flats, especially the old gravel roadbeds.

Ledges and breaks are similar to points that extend into the water. They are a prime area for the angler interested in structure fishing. The drop offs may be in increments of only a few feet, but can also have vertical drops of twenty feet or more. When approaching these areas watch for bait fish, if present the bass will most likely be close by. Drop offs and ledges are perfect locations for vertical presentations like bouncing a jig or working a spoon.

Under water humps and ditches will quite often hold bass. Humps give a bass an area to locate in water shallower than the surrounding water and the security of being away from the shoreline where anglers often prowl. Ditches are usually found a short way from the shoreline and often create the subtle depth changes bass are looking for.

In your search for areas to fish don’t overlook obvious targets like man made brush piles and fallen down trees. These targets are bombarded with lures every day but if you fish them thoroughly they can pay big dividends. Also, don’t pass up a boat dock that has good cover or deep water close by. On many older lakes docks are a major source of cover for the fish.

Current and sun, or lack of, can influence the way a bass will hold on a particular piece of cover or structure. In most situations when current is flowing bass will be facing into the current for a better position to ambush bait fish. Therefore it is always a good idea to present your offering with the current. Bass have a tendency to swim around more when current is not prevalent. Sun light, in most cases, will cause bass to hold tighter to cover. For a long time it was thought this was true because bass don’t have eyelids and the bright light hurt their eyes. However, now it is believed the reason is due to the fact it is much easier to ambush prey from a darker area looking into the more lighted area.

There are a lot of conditions to consider when putting together a plan of action on unfamiliar water.All the above-mentioned conditions play a major role in the way a bass will behave.The areas mentioned are by no means a complete list of areas to locate concentrations of bass. However, if you will take a close look at both water and weather conditions as well as the time of year when considering these areas, it will make you a better angler. Fishing is a thinking game and bass will generally react the same way as in the past when conditions repeat themselves. Bass are creatures of habit and anglers should count on the oldest and biggest ones to usually follow the same routines to get that way.

Customize Jerkbaits Using Simple Techniques

By Chris Tetrick

 

How To Customize JerkBaits

Each year many anglers toss their stickbait boxes in the boat for the first time because they are thinking of the bait’s potential of catching big bass during winter. Each year as you begin to throw the stickbaits for the first time they might need a little adjustment to ensure they suspend and perform properly to attract big bass.

For example, if you were to go winter bass fishing in January and present the same jerkbait you were catching fish on last April, chances are this bait is going to perform differently than it did the last time you used it.  The reason for the change in performance is the water is probably colder in January.  The cold water in January is denser and heavier than the warmer water found in April and causes jerkbaits to perform differently. The colder the water is the more weight it takes to suspend a lure in the water. The same can be true from going lake to lake or fishing a different area of the same lake.

Some suspending jerk baits come out of the package and require little or no attention to suspend neutral in the stixwater while others require alterations.  One of the older ways anglers used to alter the suspending characteristics was to drill holes in the lure’s body and fill the inside with steel or lead weight before re-sealing the hole. This was a permanent alteration and could not be adjusted to fine tune a lure on the water.  Without punching holes in your favorite lure weight can be added on the outside and taken off just as easy.

stix1The most common and popular method is using suspend dots or strips.  These stick on weights are made by Storm Lures and can be easily changed to add or subtract weight as needed.  These stick-on weights will normally stay on when applied to a dry stickbait.  Lead wire wrapped around the shank of one of the treble hooks is also a cheap and easy way to add weight. Small pieces of the wire may be cut off or added easily. Lead wire also gives you the opportunity to add weight without changing the color of a jerkbaits belly.

 

When changing hooks on a lure keep in this may change the weight because not all hooks weigh the stix2same.  Treble hooks can vary in weight due to size, wire diameter and material. Different split rings can change the overall weight and balance as well. OF-rings are another way of adding additional weight where you need it.  Some anglers add additional split rings on the lure hooks without attaching them to the lures hook hangers.  This allows for added weight without affecting the way the hook is attached to the lure.

In some cases anglers want a stickbait to slowly sink to get deeper in the water column and any of the previously mentioned techniques will accomplish this.  Some stickbaits will sit nose down or nose up and adding weight to a specific area can help you make your jerkbait suspend level if desired.   The type of line used affects bait’s action as well.  Smaller diameter line makes a stickbait to dive deeper than thicker line.  Also the use of fluorocarbon line causes a stickbait to dive deeper than when presented with monofilament line.  Fluorocarbon line sinks while monofilament line will float.

There are many different techniques to temporally alter the performance of a jerkbait.  To determine the best alterations for the current conditions, make temporary changes to your lure.  Trial and error, using temporary alteration on the water, is the most effective means to alter stickbaits.

To contact Chris Tetrick for a guided fishing adventure on Table Rock Lake visit his website at http://midlakesguide.com


Carolina Rigs Are Not Just For Lizards

By Marc Rogers

 

How to Fish a Carolina Rig

When the term “Carolina Rig” is said most anglers think of a soft plastic lizard on 2 – 3 foot leader behind a ½ to ¾ ounce sinker. The leader is usually 8 – 12 pound test line while the main line is 14 – 20 pound test. This presentation has been very effective for catching bass for many years but the Carolina rig doesn’t have to be limited to lizards.

The popular Senko style baits as well as tubes, worms, grubs, crawdads and flukes are very effective when used with the Carolina rig. Generally the presentation is the same with these lures as it is with the lizard. However, the Carolina rig gives these baits a different look than their regular presentations.

The Senko style baits on a Carolina rig allows the angler the dead-stick presentation in the deep water of extended points and submerged humps. A lift and drop presentation with the heavy sinker causes the bait to rise from the bottom quickly and slowly fall similar to a dead shad. Rig it on a light wire hook wacky style for a dead-shad look.

Tube baits are generally fished on a jig head for open water or Texas rig for flipping to heavy cover. Anglers should not pass on tube baits for the Carolina rig. I have had great results fishing 3 – 4 inch tubes on a Carolina rig on long points and flats. A light wire hook inserted in the head of the tube and brought back outside like a Texas rig has proven the most effective for this presentation. When fishing clear bottoms with mostly rocks I leave the hook point against the side of the tube but do not insert it back into the bait. If cover requires, I rig it weedless by skin hooking the bait just under the outside of the tube. For added action from a tube place a foam ear-plug (or small piece) inside the tube to add flotation to the bait. A tube rigged this way will move erratically when retrieved with a lift and drop motion. However, make sure the foam material doesn’t interfere with the hook finding its mark when a fish bites.

Many anglers think plastic worms are for Texas rig presentations. However, a small shaky style worm (the ones with a flat side create more darting action) on a Carolina rig is ideal for sluggish bass. This worm can be used with the lift and drop presentation as well as a slow-dragging motion for quick side-to-side action with this worm.

Grubs are also a great choice for using with the Carolina rig. A 3 – 5 inch grub is a great way to imitate a swimming shad. Again, a light hook and light leader will allow the bait to look more realistic to the bass. When using a grub I have found a lift and drop presentation has proven the most effective.

The fluke (soft plastic jerk bait) is very effective for imitating shad just below the surface. This same lure can be used on a Carolina rig and create the same action well below the surface. It should be rigged the same as traditional methods for sub-surface use but on a 3 – 4 foot leader for increased action in deep water.

The soft plastic crawdad is traditionally used as a flipping lure on a Texas rig. When swimming to escape from a predator the crawdad with jump off the bottom and swim a short distance with the claws up in the defensive position. The Carolina rig creates this exact action with the crawdad when used with the lift and drop presentation. Most strikes occur on the fall as soon as the sinker makes contact with the bottom.

If your choice is generally a lizard you should not forget about the floating lizard made by Gene Larew Lures. This special formula of soft plastic will float a light wire hook on an 8 – pound test leader well off the bottom. This particular lure is great where submerged weeds are present. You can adjust your leader length to keep the bait just above the top of the weeds.

I have even experimented with using floating jerk baits like the original floating Rapala minnows on a Carolina rig with some success. Once, I located spotted bass holding just above the bottom on an extended main lake point holding close to large boulders. The fish were too deep for a crank-bait to reach and I was having no luck on any lures that would reach the depth. This method is difficult to cast and can be dangerous if care isn’t used. This particular situation called for a quick dragging presentation but was effective in catching fish from the school in about 45 feet of water.

There are many advantages to using the Carolina rig but the best one is that an angler can cover a lot of water more quickly with soft plastic baits and greater depths than other methods. This isn’t to say the Carolina rig is the best soft plastic presentation, but when fish are scattered on long points and flats and are biting on soft plastics there isn’t a better way to cover the large areas quickly and thoroughly. However, don’t be afraid to experiment with the Carolina rig.
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Boat Control and Bass Fishing

By Marc Rogers

 

Pay Attention to Boat Control When Bass Fishing

Recreational anglers often fail to improve their catch because they do not pay attention to the small details when fishing. Professional anglers are always looking for ways to improve their skills, knowledge and catch rates. Professionals are sure to keep their equipment in working order and are more observant on the water than recreational anglers. They see things others do not and approach fishing areas differently than most.

Less skilled anglers often overlook boat control. The less skilled will pull up to an area, drop the trolling motor and start fishing. They do not pay attention to the wind direction and current, or the way the sun will cast their shadow on the water. The way these two factors are handled can make the difference between a successful day on the water and not catching any fish.

These two factors are most important when fish are shallow and close to the bank. Current caused by flowing water, and current produced by wind, will cause bass to congregate in a predictable manner when feeding. Bass will generally face into the current in order take advantage of prey being pushed along by the moving water. When an angler presents a lure against the current it is not as natural as a lure moving with the current. Natural lure presentations are more productive and many times an unnatural presentation will spook a bass instead of encouraging it to bite an artificial lure.

Boat control plays an important part in presenting a lure in a natural looking fashion to bass. Anglers should position their boat so they are approaching the bass from behind. With the bow of the boat facing into the wind and/or current anglers can accomplish this goal. The only exception to using this technique should be if doing so would cast the angler’s shadow onto the area the bass is holding before the lure can be presented. This exception would call for an approach from a 45-degree angle to avoid casting a shadow onto the holding area of the bass.

Allowing the sun to cast your shadow onto the water is almost equivalent to throwing rocks into the water as you approach. This is an immediate indicator to the bass that something is very close to its position and that “something” is probably a predator. Bass have few natural predators below the water surface but large birds and humans pose a great threat to them from above. Never put your boat into a position where your shadow covers an area before you can present a lure to the bass. Most often the bass will be spooked and leave the area. If it does not leave it will be very cautious of eating anything an angler presents.

The controversy surrounding why a bass is most often found in a shaded area will continue to be debated. However, studies have indicated that bass will hold in a shaded area seeking prey that pass close by. My opinion is it is much easier to see the surrounding area that is lit by natural light from a shaded position. Consider standing in the shade of a large tree and looking out into an area illuminated by sunlight. Not only is your field of vision enhanced but also you are less visible to anything in the lighted area. This being said, an angler should present their lure just outside of a shaded area instead of directly in it. Precise boat control allows the angler to present lures in fashion.

Many anglers change line regularly and check it for nicks throughout the day. Most have a favorite knot and check it often as well as verifying the hooks are sharp. However, one of the details often overlooked is boat control. Anglers should always consider boat control as one of the necessary details while spending a day on the water.

Bass in Deep Water Have Consistent Behavior

By Marc Rogers

 

Bass Fishing Deep Water

With the surface water temperatures reaching their peak of the summer season bass will seek comfort in deep water. Once positioned in the cooler, oxygen rich water near the thermocline bass will generally not move far. Not moving makes their behavior more predictable and getting them to bite is the key to a successful day on the water.

There are still times when bass will exploit opportunities to feed on prey in shallow water. Sunrise and sunset remain opportune times for bass to feed shallow. However, the feeding period is short lived, making the window of opportunity for anglers also small. On lakes in the Midwest, catch rates remain the highest in deep water near cover. Lake of the Ozarks is a great example of bass positioning close to cover while remaining near the thermocline.

The most consistent bass anglers on Lake of the Ozarks, and similar waters, catch bass near 25 feet depths and close to cover. The thermocline is close to this depth throughout the summer on this lake. Lake of the Ozarks has very little natural cover in the lake and brush piles are the most popular cover. The most successful anglers have planted brush piles and know their exact locations. The most productive brush piles are submerged at the thermocline depth and near areas close to bottom changes – bluffs changing to broken rock, broken rock to pea gravel or main and secondary points.

On Table Rock Lake summer time bass fishing is productive presenting jigs and spoons to suspended Spotted (Kentucky) Bass. These bass will suspend at depths of 50 feet or more and again near cover. Table Rock Lake has an abundance of submerged trees left behind while the dam was being constructed and many of the trees tops sit near these depths. Main lake points are quite productive and once the depth the bass are holding is determined, the pattern can be duplicated all over the lake. Suspended bass in Table Rock Lake will move more that resident bass on Lake of the Ozarks but generally remain near the same depth when they change locations. The bass will follow a food source when they must and locating shad will alert anglers to the bass’ location.

Bass located on or near the bottom during the summer are susceptible to being caught when anglers slowly drag jigs and worms through the cover that is close to the same depth as the thermocline. Another productive technique is slow rolling a dark colored, single bladed spinnerbait in the same areas. The key to the spinnerbait presentation is moving is just fast enough to keep the blade spinning. In addition, many times bouncing a spinnerbait just a few inches off the bottom during the retrieve can produce big summer time bass.

For anglers who prefer throwing a crankbait, bass can be caught as well. Deep diving baits in dark colors have caught a fair share of summer time bass. Deep divers matched with 10 pound test line are ideal because the lighter line allows the crankbait to reach its maximum depth. Fluorocarbon lines will allow crankbaits to dive deeper because they sink where monofilament lines will float. The major drawback to this technique is when the baits get snagged deep in the cover and the light lines breaks off.

Dark colored crankbaits are sometimes difficult to find. To solve this problem many anglers will simply paint a crankbait black. A simple way of doing this is to remove the hooks and split rings, hold the lure by the rear hook attachment with pliers and spray paint the entire bait. Lightly scuffing it with sandpaper will help the new paint better adhere to the bait.

When searching for bottom cover the Carolina rig is ideal because the heavy sinker allows you to feel the bottom composition. When the sinker comes through brush and wood cover it is easy to distinguish it from rock or mud. In addition, the Carolina rig is the perfect technique to cover a lot of water, using soft plastic lures, close to the bottom.

Using these techniques will help anglers locate bass positioned in deep water. It goes without saying that locating bass is the key to a productive day on the water. Once you locate areas likely to hold deep water bass, use a variety of lures to entice them to bite and fish the area with determination. The resident bass do not move often and a high percentage area will replenish when some are removed.