By Mason Prince
“The fall is really just a time of extremes,” said MLF pro Brett Hite. “You can catch them in 50 feet of water, or you can catch them really shallow. If you are able to find them up shallow, that’s when having a vibrating jig in your arsenal will really shine through for you.”
Once fall rolls around we hear how topwaters are a steady and reliable bait thanks to schools of shad in shallow water. But as you just read, Brett Hite thinks adding in a healthy mix of vibrating jigs to your fall lineup can be just what you need from late September to November.
“The biggest piece of advice that I have is to go fish a vibrating jig in the fall just like you would a spinnerbait,” Hite advised. “You want to be around some kind of cover like rocks, riprap, brush piles, or grass. The great thing about vibrating jigs is that they work in all different colors of water as well, so you won’t be very limited on colors.”
Reaching for the Right Rod
During the fall, Hite likes to turn to a Z-Man Chatterbait Jack Hammer with a Yamamoto Zako trailer. The colors he reaches for in the fall are usually Clearwater Shad or Green Pumpkin Shad. Hite says to seek out the bait fish where you are fishing to get an idea of what color can work best for you.
When it comes to the rod, that’s what makes all the difference for Hite. He says a lot of anglers reach for a graphite-based heavy action rod, but that’s not ideally what he prefers. A 7-foot-3 Evergreen International Combat Stick with heavy action is his tool of choice, but instead of graphite he goes with a glass rod.
“For me, you have to be using a glass rod with your vibrating jig,” Hite advised. “You need a rod that is really parabolic and has that bend throughout the whole rod. But it also needs to be heavy action so that you can horse those fish out of that cover you are fishing in. The biggest misconception about a vibrating jig is that you fish it like a regular jig. You really should think of it more like a crankbait. You’ve got to have a rod that allows the fish to eat the bait and that will help you land a lot more fish.”
As for his reel of choice, a Daiwa Tatula Elite spooled with 20-pound Sunline Super FC Sniper fluorocarbon does the trick for him. If you aren’t sure that you want to go for that particular reel, Hite says as long as you pay attention to the gear ratio, that’s the most important aspect.
“You are going to need a reel with some really good drag,” Hite tipped. “Make sure that you have a nice handle on the reel as well. I like the 6.3:1 gear ratio so I can slow roll the bait or move it fast. It’s kind of in the middle of both ends of the spectrum so that’s why I like it.”
By David A. Brown
Michael Neal’s an open-minded fellow, but when it comes to river fishing, he’s pretty hard-headed. No diss to the Tennessee standout — we’re only referring to the solid structures where he choses to spend much of his time.
No doubt, wing dams, bridge pilings and the rocky foundations of navigational markers offer tremendous opportunities that Neal is keen to exploit. Bass are guided largely by their stomachs, so anything that facilitates the munching is greatly appreciated.
“All those are high-percentage areas where those fish can sit and let bait wash down the river to them,” Neal said. “That’s an everyday occurrence that I’m going to look for in a river situation.”
(1 of 2)DIVERSIFY YOUR ARSENAL
No surprise, Neal first probes these current breakers with a crankbait. His first choice is a SPRO Fat Papa 55 for the 6- to 8-foot range and then the Fat Papa squarebill for bumping up shallower.
He also likes a 3/8-ounce white swim jig with a 3.5-inch pearl Big Bite Baits Cane Thumper, a 3/16-ounce Big Bite Baits Limit Maker shaky head with a Coontail worm and a swing head jig with a Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog. This, he said, is a scenario that welcomes diversity.
“There are endless opportunities; whatever an angler has the most confidence in,” Neal said. “Typically, I’ll start with a moving bait to see if I can get one of those aggressive ones to bite. If you get one or two on a crankbait, a lot of times, you can follow up with something slower and get another bite or two.
“Even if you don’t get a bite on a crankbait, that doesn’t mean there’s not one there. You still have to mix up the rotation.”
Neal also keeps a short-leader Carolina rig handy for back channel wing dams, as there’s typically a nearby bonus opportunity.
“The Carolina rig is best when you’re not going to hit the rocks themselves,” he explains. “In that current, you have to throw such a heavy weight that it’s easy to hang up. That Carolina rig is good for sand bars or little eddy pockets related to the wing dam.”
(2 of 2)KEEP IN MIND
Neal closes us out by offering a few pointers on maximizing the current break game.
Where to put it: Moving water requires greater casting discipline and Neal knows that factoring in the flow is essential to effective presentations.
“You don’t want to cast at 90 degrees,” Neal said. “You want to be either straight up-current or out to about a 30-degree angle. Even if you want your bait to wash down a current seam you don’t want to throw right at the seam, you still want to throw in front of the boat and let the current move it naturally.
“If you’re throwing perpendicular to the (structure), the current grabs your line and pulls your bait to you, as well as sweeping it down. Typically, throwing as close to 0 degrees is best.”
Know the flow: Any hard object breaking water flow creates a fish-friendly scenario, but Neal notes a key difference.
“It’s easier to fish the up-current sides of those navigational towers and bridge pilings,” he said. “The current actually splits a little bit in front of the visible structure and that’s an overlooked part where fish can sit. The wing dams are often so shallow that you can’t fish the front sides without risking getting your boat up on top of the rocks.”
Off the beaten path: Wing dams serving back channels can be hidden treasures, as many anglers fixated on main river structures simply overlook them. Neal checks his mapping for such tucked-away sites because he knows well their potential.
“When the current’s running really, really strong, the fish may get closer to the bank in shallower water where they’re not fighting it so much,” Neal said.
Team Toyota’s Matt Arey is one of 50 Bassmaster Elite Series anglers who have been braving the inland ocean of Lake St. Clair that serves as the playing field for the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship this week.
High winds, big waves and drifts have been a consistent talking point throughout practice for the anglers and that theme has continued today for day number one of competition. Arey is sitting in great position to qualify for his first ever Bassmaster Classic next March and graciously offered three tips on drifting for smallmouth bass.
1. Use your electronics but don’t rely on them
The first tip Arey offered is to avoid using electronics to find fish, specifically on featureless fisheries Lake St Clair. That doesn’t mean Arey ignores his graphs altogether, he just uses them to scan the bottom for grass as opposed to individual bass.
“On Lake St Clair I’m looking for clean, sandy-bottom areas around scattered grass,” Arey explained. “This week the ideal depth for me has been 14 to 20 feet of water, and I want to see patches of grass mixed in with areas of clean bottom. After you find the right type of cover, it comes down to getting on the trolling motor and fishing to find out what lives there.”
The time of the year and water temperature dictates what depth range Arey spends the majority of his time in, but scattered grass and sand has been a key in every trip he’s made to the “sixth Great Lake”.
When the wind is howling and the waves are rolling like they have this week, Arey would rather spend his time casting in opportune locations as opposed to looking at his electronics.
2. Have a search bait and a clean up bait
Once Arey has found a potential area he employs both reactionary-type search baits and a “clean up” presentation throughout his drifts.
“I like to start my drifts with a search bait like a crankbait or swimbait to cover as much water as possible,” Arey said. “Smallmouth are sight feeders and will often come a long ways to eat a lure, especially if the sun is shining. If I’m struggling to get fish to commit to a moving bait I will go back through an area with a tube jig or a dropshot to mop up any fish I missed.”
The weather conditions play a big role in what kind of presentation Arey uses while making these long drifts. High winds throughout the entirety of practice for the AOY Championship led to a search bait being key for Arey; simply because it’s difficult to feel subtle bites with a bottom bait while bouncing in big waves
“When I get a bite or catch a bass with a crankbait or a jerkbait I’ll quickly drop a waypoint on my graph,” Arey said. “Truth be told finding smallmouth can be kind of random on St. Clair, but they definitely group up in little wads. The hope is you can run back to those waypoints and catch several fish in a small area. Dragging a dropshot or tube is ideal in this scenario if the conditions allow.
3. Be conscious of drift speeds
One last tip Arey gave specific to drifting for bass is to pay very close attention to how fast, or how slow your boat is moving.
“Drift speed is super key on Lake St. Clair,” Arey admitted. “The wind and the current changes your speed depending on the conditions and where you are fishing, but a 1 mph change can be a big difference. Be conscious of that.”
Arey explained it is hard to consistently slow a drift down using only a trolling motor, but drift socks or Power-Pole Drift Paddles are excellent tools for controlling the speed of a drift. Judging by the weather report this week, Arey may need to use both if he is to have any kind of control over the ever-present wind.
Don’t keep fishing your flukes the same old way! Today we’re showing you underwater footage of new and exciting ways to rig a fluke for bass fishing! Are your clear water fish line shy? Are they in deep water? Do you prefer a magnum fluke? We’ve got a method to rig a soft jerkbait that will help you catch more bass today! Matt is showing us rigging, different sink rates, hook styles and more, in today’s in-depth look at Fall fluke fishing for bass.
Matt begins with basic texas-rigging of an unweighted Zoom Super Fluke. From there he explains sink rates between a Fluke, Shiver Glide, Bass Assassin, and Caffeine Shad. He re-introduces the nose rig method of finesse fishing a fluke then wraps it up with an all-new rigging that combines a swinging hook with a nose weight to fool deep water bass. If the explanations aren’t enough we back it up with underwater bass fishing footage to show how the lures move underwater and how the bass react to them. No matter how you rig it or where you fish, there is information in this video that will help you catch more soft jerkbait fish.
Fluke fishing (soft jerkbait fishing) is one of the most exciting ways to catch Fall bass. As they move into the shallows you can effectively target bass that are blowing up on bait but also those that hang below and refuse to rise to the surface. With the addition of the weighted nose rig, you can now effectively reach deep water bass that are ambushing baitfish as well. The fluke is an incredibly versatile tool that should be in every bass angler’s box. If you haven’t been using it effectively, you’re not alone. Many bass fisherman overlook the soft jerkbait for Fall bass, but now you have the tools you’ll need to put it to work this Fall.
Below is a breakdown of the baits and equipment that were discussed in this video as well as rod and reel recommendations for soft jerkbaits.
-Zoom Super Fluke: http://bit.ly/2aqys0H
(Electric Shad, Pro Blue Red Pearl, Albino, Smokin Shad)
-Bass Assassin 5″ Straight Tail Shad: http://bit.ly/2lFKA92
(Crystal Shad, Salt and Pepper Phantom, White)
-Reaction Innovations Shiver Glide: http://bit.ly/2DUwrtM
(Bad Shad Green, Guntersville Shad, Bad Sexy Shad)
-Strike King Caffeine Shad: http://bit.ly/2jjyvzr
(Pearl Blue, Smoky Shad)
Magnum Soft Jerkbaits…
-Zoom Magnum Super Fluke: http://bit.ly/2aqys0H
(Albino, Smokin Shad, Green Pumpkin)
-Bass Assassin 7″ Straight Tail Shad: http://bit.ly/2lFKA92
(Crystal Shad, Salt and Pepper Phantom)
-Magnum Caffeine Shad: http://bit.ly/2kf9OtX
(Pearl Blue Glimmer Back, Smokey Shad)
Soft Jerkbait Hooks…
Nose Hook- Gamakatsu Finesse Wide Gap 1/0: http://bit.ly/2aKGmHM
Weedless Nose Hook- Gamakatsu Weedless Finesse Wide Gap 1/0: http://bit.ly/2i57dOP
Spring- Owner CPS Spring Medium: http://bit.ly/2b2YgDf
Weighted Hook- Frenzy Wack-A-Sack 1/4 oz size 1: http://bit.ly/2oFduEq
Texas Rig- Gamakatsu EWG Superline 4/0: http://bit.ly/2ac92XG
(**5/0 hook for Shiver Glide**)
Magnum Jerkbait Hooks…
Nose Hook- Gamakatsu Finesse Wide Gap 3/0: http://bit.ly/2aKGmHM
Weedless Nose Hook- Gamakatsu Weedless Finesse Wide Gap 3/0: http://bit.ly/2i57dOP
Spring- Owner CPS Spring Large: http://bit.ly/2b2YgDf
Weighted Hook- Frenzy Wack-A-Sack 3/8 oz size 4/0: http://bit.ly/2oFduEq
Texas Rig- Owner Jungle Hook 7/0: http://bit.ly/2sBsR1Z
Texas Rig- Trokar MagWorm Hook 8/0: http://bit.ly/2ncqGD4
All-Around Soft Jerkbait Combo…
Rod- Shimano Zodias 7’2″ MH: http://bit.ly/2cgmMAe
Reel- Curado 150 DC HG: http://bit.ly/2yHtsp4
Line- 50 lb Power Pro Maxcuatro: http://bit.ly/2clBRiQ
Leader- 15 lb Maxima Ultragreen: http://bit.ly/2ae97J9
Rod- Shimano SLX 7’0″ MH: http://bit.ly/2L3wppO
Reel- SLX 150 HG: http://bit.ly/2NfdOnk
Line- 15 lb Sunline Assassin: http://bit.ly/2h4LNjm