Lakecaster Online

IT'S BUZZBAIT TIME AT LAKE LIVINGSTON
By Len Fairbanks

If you are looking for a fun bait to fish, one that is relatively difficult to hang up, one where you can see and hear every strike and a bait that generally catches above average size bucketmouth bass, then the buzzbait may just be your bait. After the bass complete the spawning ritual, which should be over around the last week in March, they really seem to like a bait that they can come up and hit. That's why topwaters like Pop R's, Zarra Spooks and plastic frogs start working. That's also why wacky worms and Flukes can be extremely effective this time of year. But those are subjects for other articles and this month we are talking about buzzbaits. Buzzbaits will continue to catch bass until the water temperature drops into the 50's sometime in November. Buzzbait fishing this time of year CAN be as easy as casting the lure out in shallow water and reeling it in, and this is what makes this bait so attractive and useful for the beginning/average angler. While things are often just this simple, let's discuss some of the subtle techniques and tactics that can mean the difference between a good day on the water and a great day. Let's start with the lure itself. A trip to your local tackle dealer will reveal that buzzbaits are available from numerous manufacturers, in about seven different sizes, various blade shapes and materials and a rainbow of colors. I usually use a 1/2 oz. size. This size seems to catch bigger bass, but sometimes, the bass seem to want something just a little bit smaller. When they just won't bite my 1/2 oz. offering, I drop down to the 1/4 oz. and sometimes the 1/8 oz. size. I almost always use a buzzbait with a nickel colored blade and a white skirt. If the water is off color or the light level is low I use a chartreuse/white skirt. On real cloudy days, many times I will use a solid chartreuse skirt. As far as manufacturers go, many companies make quality buzzbaits these days and they will all catch fish. Stanley, Strike King, Nichols, Bumper Stumper and BoogerMan are just a few of these companies. Where you're fishing is always extremely important. This month you want to throw that buzzbait around shallow, protected backwaters. Even though the bass are through spawning, they will hang around these backwater areas for at least another month.

Let's talk a little about the tackle. For line, I suggest nothing less than a quality 14 or 17-pound green premium monofilament like Trilene XT or Big Game. The rod that I prefer to use for buzzbaitin' is a 6'6" medium/heavy; straight handled worm rod made by Fenwick (model GTC-786 or HMX T66MH). I always use a quality, high-speed baitcasting reel with a thumb bar spool release like an Abu Garcia 4600C4 or a 4600C3 for all of my buzzbaitin'.

The last thing that we need to cover about buzzbaits are some of the different techniques that we need to use to be successful. Many times we just need to simply cast the lure out and reel it in, preferably bringing it by and bumping into any cover (moss, logs, stumps, brushpiles, weeds, bushes, etc.) that we can see in the water. Try to always cast at least five to ten feet past your target. For some reason, bass seem to hit a buzzbait better when they can hear it coming. I catch a lot of fish on a spinnerbait just as it enters the water, but most of my buzzbait bites seem to come after I have retrieved the bait at least 3 or 4 feet. Also, try to always make your buzzbait bump into whatever cover you are fishing. The sudden, erratic, jerking action that this imparts to your lure seems to drive bass crazy. Don't worry about getting hung up, the buzzbait is extremely weedless and it is amazing some of the thick cover that one can come through as long as you keep the bait moving. Retrieve speed is something that we need to experiment with every day. Many times we want to reel that buzzbait just fast enough to keep it on top of the water and this slow retrieve is the one that I usually start out with. The best retrieve speed is going to be as fast as you can go and still keep getting bit, because this lets us cover more water and more water covered usually means more bass caught. One of the small things that I do on almost every cast is to jerk or pop my rod slightly just after the bait hits the water. Many times while a buzzbait is in the air during a cast, the lure will cartwheel and the blade become tangled on the line or the hook or the skirt and this little "pop" gets everything back in order and running straight and ready to catch a fish. Also, you want to begin reeling as soon as or just before your lure hits the water. You want to get that bait up on top of the water and gurgling as soon as possible. One last thing on technique is the hookset. Many people lose bass on a buzzbait because they either don't set the hook properly or not at all. When a bass slams your buzzbait and heads the other way like a freight train, they will usually set the hook themselves and this is what lulls many people into believing that they can be lackadaisical about setting the hook with a buzzbait. This is anything but the truth. While fishing your buzzbait, your rod should always be held in a position that is ready for a quick, hard sideways or "sweep" hookset. But don't set the hook too soon. You should always wait until you can feel that bass on the end of your line. If you set the hook right after you see or hear the big splash but before you feel the bass, many times you will simply take the bait away from the bass. So wait till you feel the bass at the end of your line and keep those hooksets quick, hard and low.

I sincerely hope that at least some of the information that I have provided will be helpful. If you would like some first hand instruction on black bass fishing on Lake Livingston or Sam Rayburn, I guide full time on both of these lakes and can be reached at (936) 563-5454 or you can email me at fairbanks@towa.org. If you get a chance, check out my web site at www.detnet.com/fairbanks and let me know what you think. Until next time, catch all you can and release all that you catch. Be safe out there and may God bless.

Sponsored by: Ranger Boats, Motorguide, Pro-Kon-Trol, Lowrance Electronics, Fenwick, Abu Garcia, Energy Batteries, Turbo Props, Dual Pro Battery Chargers, Berkley, VMC Hooks, Plano and Ocean Waves Sunglasses.

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