Tip&Trick Description 1:
Spider Grubs-A Bait For All Seasons
By Steve VonBrandt
Delaware and Maryland Ponds, Lakes, and Rivers are receiving more and more pressure as each year goes by, not just from weekend anglers, but tournament fishing as well. If you apply some new tactics with these Spider Grubs, you can be more productive in your recreational and tournament fishing alike.
Surprisingly, this deadly soft plastic bait is not a staple in everyone's tackle box, but in many other states, it is a long time favorite lure when the going gets tough. Several companies make Spider grubs, but I prefer the ones made by 'Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits' the best. The grubs come in a variety of colors and sizes, from two to five inches long. They are absolutely deadly on spring largemouth and smallmouth bass alike. Most anglers like to use them on jig heads, and this is an extremely effective method, but I also like to rig them Texas style. The grub resembles a darting crawfish depending on how you fish it. It is the most effective in clear water, but also produces bass in stained and muddy water also. The lure is compact like a jig and pig, as versatile as a worm, can be fished vertically or horizontally, fast or slow. You can pitch it, flip it, swim it, hop it, or drag it on the bottom. Here are some of the ways I like to fish it in Delaware and Maryland waters, and elsewhere throughout the country, that really produce bass well.
When searching for bass, you want to try to cover the water quickly. The Spider grub is a great search tool when you're looking for bass that are feeding on crawfish around scattered weeds, and rocks on shallow flats like the Susquehanna, or similar shallow areas. You can fish it faster than a jig, cover the water quickly, and trigger more reaction strikes, The earth tone colors are easy to match with the forage and blend in well with the surroundings. This is critical in clear water, when the bass rely more on sight. Sometimes I like to fish it fast, with an erratic, jerk bait type motion. The lure is always moving, but on or near the bottom.
When I fish the open flats with scattered grass, I rig it on a light jighead, or if the cover is thicker, I rig it Texas style. I found that I land more fish If the hook is exposed, and if it becomes hooked on weeds occasionally, I jerk it free, sometimes causing a reaction strike. I like to use 1/8 ounce or 1/4 ounce jigheads, depending on the depth of the water, wind, currents, or how hard it is to keep on the bottom. I also prefer to fish them on a 61/2 to 7 foot spinning rod with a medium action soft tip, in graphite. Using 6-8 pound test Stren line. Sometimes you can go to 10 pound line, depending on the cover. The light line gives the bait more action, and is less likely to hang up in the weeds. I have used these successfully on the grass flats in the Potomac River and on the Susquehanna flats. Working it the right way takes some practice. You want the lure to scoot along in short bursts, on or near the bottom, without making excessive hops. Don't pull it too hard, or you will lose contact with the bottom. Keep the rod low to the water, and on the side of the boat so the wind doesn't bow the line, and ruin the action of the bait.
Keep contact with the bait at all times, because many of the strikes will feel mushy or heavy like it is on grass, but most of the time when I set the hook, it is a bass. If it is just weeds, it pulls free and sometimes triggers a strike.
Swimming the Grub-sometimes I swim the grub like a jerk bait. Once in a tournament the bass were ignoring the jerk bait, so I switched to the spider grub, and fished it erratically over the weeds, stopping it occasionally. This triggered the strikes that I needed to win. 15 pounds of bass slammed the spider grub while ignoring the other jerkbaits and crankbaits that were being worked in the same area.
Dragging the Grub-sometimes when I am fishing on a long, sandy, gravel point, I use a stand up jighead and just pull it slowly on the bottom. I work it very slow, and maintain contact with the bottom all the time. Also, I Carolina-Rig the bait, and when I feel it hit rocks or heavy cover, I start shaking the line, and this cause strikes to occur much of the time. This has been working reel well in lakes in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, but I have used it with success all over the country.
Suspended Fish-Frequently after a cold-front moves through, bass will suspend over some structure. When this occurs, You can rig it Texas style, on a very light weight, or with no weight at all, and let it float down to the bottom. When conditions are tough, this works wonders at times by keeping the bait in front of the fish longer. I have even tried Drop-shotting this bait with success. There are more prone to strike the bait with this method, over a bait that moves quickly by them When you are searching for fish, and the going gets tough, this is the bait to try. I like to use a good spinning rod, such as G.Loomis or St.Croix, and a good reel like a Shimano or Daiwa. Sensitivity is very important, and a combination such as this improves your chances of catching them when they strike. This technique has worked well in clear lakes all over the Midwest, and in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. I caught a lot of nice bass using these methods at Table Rock Lake, in Missouri also. Whether it is spring, summer, fall, or winter, this is a bait for all seasons.
Tip&Trick Description 2:
By Steve VonBrandt
When the weather is nasty, be it in the early spring or late fall, many anglers miss out on some of the best bass fishing of the year. When their boats are in the garage, and their gear is stored away, other anglers in the know, cash in on some of the best fishing of the year using some special techniques. One of the most effective ways to catch big bass in colder water, is a technique known as 'Dead-Sticking.' The anglers who can brave the elements and employ these techniques, catch some of the largest bass of the year.
The name of the technique tells it all. The technique actually involves more patience than action. Some of the best ways to present a bait using a Dead-Sticking technique are Drop-shotting, using a suspending jerkbait, and fluttering soft plastics to the bottom. These are great ways to tempt early season and late season bass. You won't catch a ton of bass in really cold water, but you can have a memorable day, and catch some of the larger bass of the year. When the water temperature is in the low to mid forties, shad and herring either die off in the winter, or they are so lethargic, that they are a good target for feeding bass. A lure that suspends at the level of the bass, or just falls slowly to the bottom, or in the case of the drop-shot, just sits still in the middle of the water column, offers a tempting imitation of a dying shad.
There are many good Jerkbaits on the market today, but for dead-sticking techniques I like certain baits more than others.Smithwick Rogues, and Rapala Husky Jerks, are among my favorites.
They are excellant baits for dead-sticking because they suspend. You can throw them out, reel them down, and play the waiting game. I have done this, and many times, while getting a drink, or grabbing something to eat, the bass have hit the bait. Sometimes it takes as long as a minute, or even two, before a bass will move up to a suspending bait and decide to hit it. I throw the baits way past the target, and jerk it down to where I think the bass are. In some bigger lakes and reservoirs I like to fish any standing timber they have available. I jerk the bait down, and then stop it right by a tree. I then let it sit as long as a minute before moving it again.
Many times the bass will hit while it is sitting still, or when I first start to move it again. This happened to me quite a few times in Greenwood Lake and in Union Lake, in New Jersey. It is an excellent way to catch cold water bass in these and other lakes. I had great success with this method on Table Rock Lake, and Bull Shoals in Missouri, working the standing timber.
It doesn't really matter if it's a tree, or rocks, or next to a dock. The trick is to let the bait sit there for as long as it takes, without moving it all. A lot of anglers are tempted to impart some action to the bait, but this is a mistake. This is the time to wait as long as you can stand it. Nerves of steel are required for this type of fishing. Another good location to use this technique is over old roadbeds, like in Spruce Run reservoir in New Jersey. I also like to use them along bluff walls, and across long tapering points. When the water starts to warm in the spring, or after a warm spell in the winter, bass will move up from the deeper water and suspend over or near these areas. These are ideal baits to use to entice them into striking. I like to find a long flat point, near a creek channel, where the deep water isn't far from the shallow water. This is where the bass will be, due to the fact that don't have to move very far, which is important this time of year, but especially true in the winter.
When bass are suspending, if you throw a Carolina-rigged bait, you are actually fishing under the bass, if you use a crankbait, you're usually fishing too fast. This is why suspending Jerkbaits are ideal, because they get right down into the suspended bass and stay in one place. This is even more important in the winter, than the early spring. I make sure I fan cast the entire structure from many different angles. Many times the bass don't hit the bait until it is presented at just the right angle, and you won't know what that is until you make enough casts to start catching fish.
The most strikes occur in about 8-10 feet of water, and suspending baits that go down to about 8 feet are the best. You need at least 2 feet of visibility for dead-sticking baits, and more is preferable. It is very important for them to be able to see it, as you are not moving the bait, and it doesn't make much noise. My best days deadsticking have been on lakes with a good degree of visibility.
'Dead-Sticking Soft Plastics'
Most bass fisherman use Zoom Flukes, Bass Assassins, and other soft plastics, with a twitch, twitch, reel twitch action, like in the warmer months, but using these baits with a dead-sticking technique in the colder water, works wonders. Bass won't come up and hit these baits on or near the surface when it's cold, but they do hit it when it falls slowly to the bottom. It takes so much patience to work these baits right in cold water that most anglers don't have the patience it takes to work them properly. I use the bait on a unweighted 4/0 or 5/0 WG hook, and let it fall slowly to the bottom. The bait only sinks about 1 foot every 3-4 seconds, and this is perfect to imitate a dying shad. I have had the best luck with this in the winter, but in the very early spring, it can be effective also. I just cast it out next to the structure, whether it's a dock, or brushpile, or just over some type of structure that the bass are suspending on. I might twitch it a couple of times as it falls, but not too much, just enough to convince a bass that it is crippled or dying. It is a great bait for areas that have a lot of dying shad in the winter.
One of the baits that I have had the most success with last year using these dead-sticking methods, is the Yamamoto 'Senko.' This bait is perfect to use dead-sticking. Although it is nothing more than a thin, straight piece of plastic when it is out of the water, it literally comes alive with just the right action to entice bass in colder water. It is perfect for letting sink slowly to the bottom, or for drop-shotting. Because of the salt content in these baits, it sinks a little faster than an unsalted lure. These baits are perfect for a lot of different situations, as long as you have to patience to let them sink. You really don't have to do anything to this lure, except let it sink slowly on a slack line. I rig them on a 2/0 or 3/0 Gamakatsu or Eagle Claw hook, on 14 pound test Spiderline Super Mono, or Stren. The trick is to pay very close attention to the line, sometimes you might feel a bite, but generally you will not. I just move the rod tip a little bit to see if I can feel the weight of the bass. If I can't, I just let it fall slowly to the bottom again. The action really comes when the bait is falling, so you have to lift the rod slowly, and let it fall back again as you work it across the bottom. There is even a new larger Senko for this year that I am looking forward to using. Even the new Cut-Tail worm may work well in these cold water situations, and I am looking forward to trying them out this year.
The best technique to come along for cold water or suspending bass is the Drop-Shot technique. Drop-Shotting can tempt bass into striking in the cold water at all times of the year. In the late winter, or very early spring, I just cast it out, let it hit the bottom, and tighten my line up. I use very little action at all. I don't really shake my rod tip or anything, I just let it sit.
The less action the better! I do fish them around some structure also, and generally when I do this I work the bait with a little more action up to the cover, and then just let it sit when I get next to it. It is a very effective method in the winter or spring. I generally use a 3-4 inch bait on drop-shot rigs, but other baits have worked at different times. The hardest part of fishing in the winter or very early spring isn't the fishing itself, but motivating yourself to get out there and go when the weather is less than desirable.
This is where the patience comes in, as it is very hard to sit still for long periods of time, and work the bait as slowly as is necessary to produce the strikes. Dead-Sticking really works if you remember exactly what it means. I like to use a high modulus graphite rod for the Dead-Sticking techniques, in a 6 1/2 to 7 foot length, with 12- 14 pound test line. I use spinning gear on little finesse baits, or a light line baitcaster. I use a baitcast rod, and up to 14-17 pound test line, in the deeper water, and for larger baits. Try theses techniques this year, and your recreational and tournament fishing will improve greatly.
Tip&Trick Description 3:
Drop Shotting in Depth
By Steve VonBrandt
Drop-shotting has been touted as one of the hottest 'new' techniques around, but it has been around since the mid 1970s. Drop-shotting has been revived in the last 5 years by Japanese anglers, who started using this technique to catch the bass in their clear, highly pressured lakes, but saltwater anglers, and panfisherman have been using this technique for many years to catch finicky fish suspended off the bottom. In the past few years, tournament anglers have adopted this technique to put hard to catch fish into the boat. It is an excellent technique for catching deep bass, and bass that are highly pressured in many of the tournament waters all over the US.
The techniques that are used today have been refined, but the basic technique has remained the same for 30 years.
The most simple explanation of this technique is that drop-shotting is a vertical presentation using light line, over top of fairly snag free structures.
A sinker is tied to the line, which is usually 8-12 pound test, and a hook is tied on the line, about 1-3 feet above the weight. A soft plastic bait is usually nose hooked, and the rig is lowered to the depth of the fish. Most anglers use their electronics to locate the structure, baitfish, and bass, and the rig is brought into the area where the strikes are suspected. The baits action is controlled by a slight shaking, or gentle twitching of the rod tip.
This is a very simple explanation, but drop-shotting can be much more refined and more complicated.
The types of hooks used for this technique vary greatly with each individual anglers preference. There are many anglers out there today that prefer the short shanked style of hooks for drop-shotting. These are called 'Octopus' hooks. Many times these hooks are colored red, which many anglers believe bass see as a wounded bait. There are also many companies who manufacture pre-rigged drop-shot rigs, so you don't have to waste a lot of time tying them when you get on the water. Others prefer to tie the rigs themselves, but this is something that most do ahead of time, so they can save valuable time on the water for fishing.
Most bass fisherman, myself included, prefer a straight shanked hook, because in places where there is current, these styles resist some of the line twisting that occurs in these situations. I like to use a ball-bearing swivel myself, which prevents most of the line twisting that can occur. I tie on a swivel as a connection between the line and leader. I always use a black swivel for this and other techniques in clearer water, as I believe it doesn't spook wary bass. I also use the smallest swivel I can get away with. I use a Superline for these techniques also, as I believe it aids in detecting subtle strikes in deeper water. I like a braided line such as 'Spiderline' for this. I always use the 'Spiderline' in stained water, but at places like Table Rock Lake in Missouri, and some other clear water areas around the country, I use a Fluorocarbon line, as the braids are easier for the bass to see. In most of the clear, deep, highland reservoirs that we fish, this is very important. Also, by using a fluorocarbon line, I can go up in size to a higher pound test without the bass being able to detect it.
This type of fishing is really a 'Finesse' technique, a term which has been abused in recent years by many anglers. If you aren't delivering a small bait, on light line, in fairly deep water, then I don't really consider it finesse fishing.
You can use almost any kind of sinker for this technique, but I really like to use the 'quick release' style of weights. If the conditions on the water change, such as the wind picking up, the current increasing, or if you move to deeper water, you can quickly change to a heavier weight without having to retie. Some examples of this type of weight are the Duel Quick Change Lead Sinker, and the Zappu. These rigs are specifically tailored for drop-shotting techniques. Another really good type sinker that we found recently, is the Bakudan. This weight is ball shaped, as has a swivel-like line tie that reduces line twist. Line twist can sometimes be a problem with these rigs in wind, or deep water situations, and anything that helps reduce this is a definite plus. This type of weight also has something the others don't. It has a line clip that lets you change the distance between the lure and the weight, without having to retie. Another method for changing the sinker quickly is to simply tie a loop at the end of the drop-shot leader using an overhand surgeon's loop. To properly fish this, and other rigs, a knowledge of many different knots is recommended. Practice tying these knots in the off season, and it will increase the time you spend fishing, instead of tying.
Another technique for drop-shotting, is to tie a regular bass jig, (usually a 1/4 to 3/4 of an ounce), at the leader end instead of the lead weight. With a surgeon's loop, different weight jigs can be changed quickly. Sometimes, the bass will hit the jig while you are using the drop-shot rig in your usual areas. Some anglers like to use a 'pinch-on' split shot also. You can also thread a bullet weight on the drop-shot leader, below the hook and lure, with a split shot squeezed on below the bullet weight to hold it in place. More weight can easily be added to this rig quickly, and you can spend more time fishing.
TYING THE HOOKS
Tying the hooks on drop-shots is a refined technique, and can be done a couple of ways. I always use a Palomar knot, beginning the knot on the hook point side. This is done before tying the rig on the sinker. This is done so that the hook lays at a right angle to the leader. This is a better way to get a good hookset on light biters. Another way can be to take the leader end, after the Palomar is tied, and thread it back through the hook eye, then attach the rig lead. This way the hook shank lays against the line, which I believe, improves hookups.
I like to use a variety of soft plastics on these rigs, but most of the time, I use a small 4' finesse worm, or a Yamamoto 'Senko,' in the 4 inch size. Another good choice is the French Fry worm, and other types of hand poured plastic baits, such as a Roboworm. A small tube can also be effective, as can a Yamamoto spider grub. This is only one of many great finesse fishing techniques that produce bass when they are deep, or highly pressured. Learning the many different techniques available today, will help you put more bass into the boat when they are hard to catch.