Happy Friday, Patriots.
Today, we’re talking fishing. Straight. No chaser.
So buckle up, wipe off that booger-pickin’ finger and get to scrollin’!
(Sorry… I’m already through an entire pot of coffee…)
I REGRET NOTHING! LET’S TALK BASS FISHING!
Last time we discussed The 4 Feeding Strategies of Largemouth Bass. We explained that Mr. Largemouth is in fact a generalist when it comes to feeding. I am as well, which explains these love handles.
We’re going to talk a bunch of gear today, I’m going to share a ton of the stuff I’m currently huckin’, and we’ll analyze a common situation.
Let’s Break Down Some Cover
Say you approach a pile of partially exposed timber.
Little pieces of driftwood floating all around. Water is clear. Birds tweet-tweeting. Lightly. Wind rustling the tall grass and cattails, their dense cylindrical tops swaying in the morning breeze. The water isn’t quite glass calm. There’s a feather-light wrinkle that almost allows you to see the movement of the air…
It’s like heaven on earth, and we’re about to make a ruckus just over yonder.
You know they’re in that mess of branches… it just LOOKS bassy.
Let’s get to work.
If the bass are active, they’ll be Running Down Bait, or Stalking. If they are in a neutral feeding mood, they will probably hover near cover, patrolling slowly without startling prey, which we refer to as Habituation. This is a passive feeding strategy. If the largemouth bass are inactive, they’ll simply set up and wait to Ambush prey. Another passive feeding method, requiring the least movement and the lowest energy expenditure.
We’re going to make 3 passes through this area.
Pass #1: Run & Gun
The name of the game here is speed. Hit ’em with the high hard one to start: a topwater like the (overrated) River2Sea Whopper Plopper 90, or the down-sized Whooper Plopper 75 in a natural pattern… but be mindful of those trebles near the timber. If you want something a little more weedless, check out the Z-Man Hard Leg FrogZ (think topwater toad or soft buzzbait) or slow down to a popper with a Z-Man Pop Shad. Your hook will be protected using either of these soft plastic options.
Work the open areas near the timber first, quickly, then move in tight. If nothing is popping with the topping (what?) go slightly deeper. I love the Mann’s Baby 1-Minus, and I have landed some absolute beasts on the chartreuse / purple combo. A Booyah Colorado Blade Spinnerbait will also work well around sticks and snags with the metal arm protecting the hook. Burn it. It kicks off some nice big thump with more junk in the trunk, if you’re into that…
Run & Gun Presentation Links:
Pass #2: Go Subsurface
As we look even further below the surface, we move into the near-cover zones, which can be used by bass in two different feeding moods. Those that are Stalking tend to be more active, and those that are hovering or slowly prowling (Habituation) will need a slightly slower offering.
Work the stalkers with deep crankbaits, or if you’d like to avoid the trebles again, tie on one of my personal favorites, the swim jig: Here are 10 Killer Swim Jig Options, and some Awesome Swim Jig Trailers.
These strikes will be vicious.
Come through again and work them slower buggers with a compact jig ‘n pig, like the Strike King Hack Attack Heavy Cover Jig and your favorite trailer. Remember, floating, bulky trailers will reduce your sink rate, and super-salty ones will speed it up. This is also a great place to try Texas rigged worms, or wacky rigs. I like the Zoom Zlinky Stickbaits or the Strike King Ochos (both sink faster than the famous YUM Dinger) paired with some Berkley Fusion19 Weedless Wacky Hooks.
Using fluorocarbon will make you invisible, abrasion resistant, and it will also increase the sink rate of your wacky rig. I have had excellent luck this season with Seaguar Invizx – it ain’t cheap, but it’s worth the cost of admission.
Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon is a great option for fluoro leaders, but I’ve stopped using it to fill up my spinning reels. Truth be told it has a fair amount of memory, and it’s jumped the spool on me many, many times. Hence the upgrade to Invizx.
Subsurface Presentation Links:
Pass #3: Probe the Depths
I’ll refrain from making a joke about the aliens and my dear Uncle Bucky from Kentucky. He used to raise cattle. Now he’s retired and walks funny.
So yeah… probing… here we go!
The remaining bass will be in a negative feeding mood. They are inactive, and the best chance you’ll have of catching these fish is going to be with something very slow, presented very close, and a little scent wouldn’t hurt. I’m currently testing Dr. Juice Bass Attractant, as it’s been on the market for some time.
You could again work the Strike King Hack Attack Heavy Cover Jig and your favorite trailer – much slower – or go for a finesse option like the popular Ned Rig. Pair a TRD, a TRD Tickler, a TRD Craw or a BIG TRD with an Eagle Claw Pro-V Finesse Jig.
Just remember two things: the TRD Craw doesn’t contain any salt as far as I can tell, so you’ll definitely want to add scent, and the exposed hook on your jig could cause a problem around the timber.
If you need to hide your hook point, look to the Texas rig again, or throw a Strike King Coffee Tube weedless – but be ready to set the hook HARD. The Eagle Claw Pro-V Jig does come in a weedless option if you want to stick with finesse. You might even try live bait, if you have the means and the patience to deal with it…
Toss, flip & pitch. Use short, accurate casts to work through the cover deliberately. Slowly. Just don’t swear too much when you lose gear… because you will.
Probing Presentation Links:
This is just ONE example of ONE way to break down ONE type of cover.
Say that 10 times fast.
There are countless condition combinations. Set up your Base Box with some of the options listed above, you’ll be in an excellent position to fish largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass in many different scenarios without taking the entire tackle shop with you.
What’s a Base Box, you ask?
… we’ll talk more about that in some upcoming articles…
For now though, we fish.
It’s gonna be work… but get out there my friend, and enjoy the grind.
Tight Lines & Godspeed, Patriots.