Well, it’s summer, and while you are out on the water I’m sure you have seen the shad busting the top trying to get away from those hungry predator bass.
As I mentioned in one of my earlier articles, the shad spawn happens earlier than does the bass spawn, so those shad that were spawned early this spring are now about 4 to 6 inches long, depending on the availability of their forage. When you have 4- to 6-inch shad busting, it’s probably 3- to 4-pound bass after them.
Quite often the bass hits the school of shad at full steam and stun as many as they catch in their mouth. Those stunned shad simply float down in the water column until they recover or are eaten by the bigger bass under the school.
So here is the question for you: Should you throw a crank bait, a rubber swim bait or a heavy spinner bait? All may work at times, but there is one bait that will work every time, as long as you don’t spook the school of shad and the bass under them. Can you guess what it is?
OK, I will not keep you waiting. It’s a 4- to 6-inch fluke. Either swim tail or straight tail either will work, but I prefer the straight tail.
Now back to my original question: To weight or not to weight? If you are after those schoolers, then the correct answer is “not to weight.”
Have you every tossed a fluke over the side of your boat with no weight other than the hook and watched it sink? It looks just like a stunned fish and the weight of the hook, if properly put in the bait, carries it down in a slow spiral that Mr. Bass just cannot resist.
If you haven’t tried that, do it the next time you’re on a clear water lake and watch it go down as far as you can see it and place yourself in the position of a hungry bass; you would bite it, wouldn’t you? Of course, you would. Maybe I can catch YOU the next time I’m out! Sure would like to hit the scales with a 170-pound bag.
I know you all read everything you can get your hands on to improve your ability to catch bass. I do the same. There are a lot of guys out there who tell you that you must have weight on your line so there is enough resistance on the line to make it easier to feel the fish when they hit. Well, I will not disagree with them.
If you are fishing deep haunts you do need the weight for that. But when you are fishing for schoolers, it’s much different. You must be able to watch your line closely and see the twitch when the bass take the lure. Also, a lot of times you will just see your line moving off one way or the other. Either way, crank up the slack in your line and set the hook!
Well, I’m getting older and my eyes aren’t what they used to be. So what I have done to make it easier for me to see the line twitch is I have changed my line to the new HIGH Visibility line. The Berkley Big Game Florescent is what I use. But I know you are saying, well, if you can see the line so can the fish.
And you are right — that’s why I tie on the smallest barrel swivel I can find to the end of the high vis line and then put fluorocarbon to the bait. Works great!
I used to miss the twitch about 40 percent of the time. Now it’s very seldom, unless I’m distracted or asleep. If you have a problem seeing the line move, give this a try. I think you will be amazed how much it will improve your catch ratio.
You may also want to vary the sizes of the flukes until you find the one size that produces the most. Once you have determined that, stick with that size and color. By the way, I almost forgot one of the most important things — when you are doing this technique you want to cast right in the middle of the busting pod of shad, not on the fringes as you would do with a crank bait.
Try your best to make a light presentation in the pod so you do not spook the fish. If you can pitch, that’s the best method. Pitching gives a much lighter splash as it enters the water.
Also stay off the trolling motor as much as possible, or cut down the speed and keep it on continuously to hold you in the wind. The on and off will spook the pod of shad.
Give this technique a try and let me know what you think and if it works as well for you as it does for me then send me an e-mail with pics to Hook_up66@yahoo.com. You may see your catch in a future article. If it doesn’t work for you, send me an email and maybe I can give you a couple of hints that just might turn it on for you.
So get out on the water, hunt down those schooling shad and give it a try. I’m sure you will catch a big ’ un.
Jasper Johnson is the Copperas Cove Bass Club secretary. To contact him about the club or for any questions, call 318-218-0358 or email Hook_up@yahoo.com.