BullShad Swimbaits


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Switching it Up During the Post Spawn Funk

    Everyone has had those days when the bass are  in the post spawn stage and fish can go into short period of rest and cruising around.  Occasionally feeding, but mainly recovering from the rigors of the spawn.  I recently floated a section of river that a few male bass still guarding nest, with some females spotted hanging around wood a little deeper.  The males that were off the bed were feeding some while the big females were just seen cruising out off the banks.  Sometimes you have to switch it up through out the day when faced with these conditions. 
     I started the afternoon with a small largemouth bass on a KVD 1.5 square bill, that hit on my first cast down some rip rap rock.  The rocks on most of this float were covered in grass so I switched up to a 1/2oz, white spinner bait. This seemed to be a ticket to several buck bass through out the day.  The fish, like often happens after the spawn, were tight to wood in shallow water.  I began catching fish as I ran the spinner bait beside, over or into the wood.  It had to be tight to the wood though.  I saw several of my strikes and caught many of them on the trailer hook because of the finicky bite.  I managed four or five fish on that bait, with a few missed strikes.  I was determined to find a big fish that I could maybe get a reaction strike out of.


    The evening wore on and the spinner bait bite began to slow down.  May can be one of the best months for topwater so I tied on a black and red buzz bait with two blades stacked one on top of the other.  As we neared the end of the day and the sun set low, I began hooking up on fish with my buzz bait.  Two of my last fish, including my biggest of the day, came in the shoals and no where near wood. When the light gets low, the fish move into the shoals and feed.  I caught a nice spotted bass on the current seam below the shoal.  I then did what is only natural in my excitement after catching a fish, and back lashed my reel pretty bad.  I picked out the mess and reeled up the slack to feel, what I thought was my buzz bait hung up on a rock until it began pulling back. Of course, I really meant to do that so I would catch that fish.  I mean, who hasn't fished a buzz bait on the bottom like a jig? 
   As you can see, I caught fish on a few different lures this day, and was willing to try something new when the technique I was using stopped producing.  You have to be a versatile angler to catch fish, especially in the post spawn.  So don't be afraid to change it up when the bite slows down.  It just might boat you a few  more fish. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

First Kayak Trip on the River of 2015

     Thank God, I have finally procured a Yakima JayLow kayak roof rack!  It's been just over two years, since my truck was totaled.  Needless to say, I have had a tough time getting my kayak on the water.  Well the day finally came, with the help of my brother, we installed the rack and I was able to give it a test run today.  The Yakima rack, so far, is very impressive.  My Jackson Cuda 14 fits in the cradle like a glove and the rack can hold two kayaks, if needed.  The instillation instructions could have been a little clearer but it wasn't rocket science.


     So I had it loaded up this morning, rods ready, and geared up to go.  I ventured down to one of my favorite spots to fish for Shoal Bass, and other species such as Spotted Bass and Striped Bass.  I called ahead and knew the dam above my spot would stop generating about the time I would get there.  Seeing as the dam is a good bit away from the shoals I was fishing, it took the water a couple hours to drop down to fishable levels.  So I paddled up as far as I could, and beached myself on the point of an island facing upriver.  I began tossing a 3/8 oz football jig with PB&J skirt and pumpkin seed zoom trailer.  I was just killing time until my shoals were reachable, when I had that mushy feeling on my line, directly below the bow of my kayak.  I did one of those, half set the hook, half lift the rod in confusion, when the fish took off.  It shot out the water and the two and a half pound spotted bass came unbuttoned.  This would be my only bite on the jig for the day.  I eventually paddled up a little further, where I could cast my 5" Bull Shad into a really fast chute, that had some decent depth behind it.  As I was slowly bringing it up for another cast, my biggest striped bass of the day, slammed it so hard that I almost fell out of my kayak.  I had to bank my kayak so I wasn't two hundred yards downriver after fighting this fish.  It used the current to it's advantage and it took a good, two minutes, to get it onto the bank.  I didn't have scales but the 7-8lb fish chocked the Bull Shad so deep it was barely visible outside it's small mouth.  This was a hungry striper. 
      I stepped out onto the bank and in the next twenty minutes, I landed 3 similar sized stripers and lost two or three more that pulled off because I couldn't follow them downriver.  This was a nice distraction to the long wait for the water levels to come down. 


     After the striped bass extravaganza, I made my way to the gradually, dropping shoals.  I tried the Bull Shad and the Pig and Jig for a good hour and a half without so much as a bite.  I was standing in front of one of the best pools in this shoal complex, so no fish was not a good sign.  I decided to make a switch, something that would maybe trigger a reaction strike instead of trying to finesse them into eating a jig or tossing the big bait at them.  I tied on a crawfish colored, square bill, crank bait.  First cast into the same, heavily fished pool, and wham.  A nice little shoal bass loaded up on the crank bait as it bounced through the rocks.  Smiling, I released the fish and began fan casting.  As I was about to reel up to make another cast, this massive shoal bass, easily over 5lbs, maybe 6, grabbed the crank bait.  It turned sideways giving me the full view of her glory with only 4 or 5 feet of line out.  I pulled up to start the fight and the crank bait popped out the side of her mouth.  It broke my heart to loose the first big shoal bass of the year but she won't be the last.  I continued on with one more fish that was either a spot or red eye, also on the crank bait.  Seems like the crank bait bouncing off the rocks was key in triggering the strikes today.  Overall, I had a blast and needed to do this SOOO BAD!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer Swim Jigging for Shoal Bass

  Every summer I find myself in a period of fishing when the big bait, bite, is only on for a few hours during those dog days.  So when those big shoal bass hunker down under the shelves of rocks, I find myself going to one lure consistently.  The swim jig with a zoom speed craw on the back end to add bulk and action.  The water I fish is usually gin clear, so I go with more natural colors and the bream imitating colors tend to be my favorite ones.  A 3/8oz swim jig is the perfect size when the water is low and slow, and those big shoal bass are hunkered down.  This tactic will catch big fish, but it will also catch numbers of decent fish as well.  My jig of choice is a homemade swim jig made by my friend Michael Smith.  This little bass wasn't a monster but it chocked the homemade swim jig like it was eating it's last meal.

   I found the best presentation is the obvious one, the natural one.  To throw the jig upriver and work it back down the shoals or pools towards myself.  This allows for the jig to swim up and over the rocks like a bream or crayfish washing downriver towards the waiting fish's mouth, like any natural prey would.  Shoal bass stay fairly active throughout the summertime so you don't have to crawl the jig back, you can work it back fairly fast.  I don't burn it back like a spinner bait but I also don't crawl it like a normal jig or texas rig.  If you match the weight of the jig correctly with the speed of the current, then it will just glide it's way back to you.  I do let it fall into the cracks and crevices in the shoals, because that is where the big bass will be waiting for it's next meal, but I only let it hit the bottom for a few seconds, at most.  This is usually when the fish will take ahold of the jig, just as it begins to fall between rocks or as you go to lift it over that rock.  A lot of your bites will just feel mushy or all of the sudden get heavy.  This is because of the slack in your line while working a jig this way.
  You have to make sure to use the proper gear for this type of fishing.  You need a strong, abrasive resistant line, that also has low visibility since the summer river water is usually very clear.  So I go with 20lb P Line Flouroclear.  I like this because it's strong, sensitive and has very little stretch so hook sets are easier, especially since the lure is working downriver towards me and moving with the current.  A bass can grab it and take it right back under one of the rocks it was hiding under.  So you need something strong when you set the hook, to get the bass out from under the rocks and keep it from snapping the line on the sharp edges.  You will also need a stout rod, I use a Dobyns 766 Flip for this paired with a Shimano Curado.  This gives me plenty of backbone to slam the hook in a big bass' lip and the reel has the ability to throw the jig a long distance.  Distance is important since your working upriver, which means you'll be throwing your lure uphill.  The micro guides on this rod also help add extra distance on your casts.  Any extra distance is a good thing.  Give this technique a try next time you find yourself out fishing some moving water on the dog days of summer.  It can produce some excellent catches.