Lakecaster Online

Angling News
by Joe Joslin

Hello Fellow Anglers. After guiding for four years, one comes to a few conclusions. One of the lessons this angler has learned is to spend a lot of time using and teaching basic patterns/techniques that have a history of producing good numbers of quality bass. As a guide, if you do not get a rush from teaching basic fishing skills, you probably should consider looking at another job opportunity. Nothing brings more excitement to a guide's day than to have a client, who is a novice angler, boat a really nice bass while fishing a pattern that you have assisted him/her to master. You have done more than aided someone in catching a good bass, you have helped to make a memory and more than likely, a friend. Fishing is a lot more than just catching fish, but that's another story in and of itself.

In this article I want to look at a user-friendly, basic, yet highly productive method of catching bass....the spinnerbait. One of the main reasons of talking about this bait now, is that December tends to be a great month for spinnerbaits. They certainly were successful during November and December 2002 on both Toledo Bend and Lake Sam Rayburn and they also are great guide tools. There is enough information/opinions on the various kinds and methods of fishing spinnerbaits to fill a book or two. However, I'm going to dwell on the 'what works-for-me' portion and leave the rest to others.

While thinking through past spinnerbait successes, I realized that most of my spinnerbait bass came while fishing one or two retrieves, either fast or slow. Seldom was a medium (chunk and wind) retrieve, where the spinnerbait stayed a couple of feet under the water all the way back to the boat, the best. However, it seems that large numbers of anglers use the 'chunk and wind' retrieve a lot of the time. That's not to say that this approach doesn't catch fish, but my experience is that there are other presentations that will produce more favorable results.

One of my favorite methods of presenting a spinnerbait is to 'wake' it by running the bait just under the water an inch or two causing the bait to create a wake forming a 'V' as it comes back to the boat. Ideally done, the waked spinnerbait should not break the water very often. One exciting thing about fishing in this manner is that the strikes are always visible. This method is very effective when water surface temperatures are from sixty-five to eighty degrees, with about seventy-two degrees being ideal, making fall and spring great times 'waking'. My favorite waking spinnerbait is a 3/8 or 1/2 oz. Stanley Tapered Titanium in white/chartreuse. A titanium bait may cost an extra buck, but it is basically indestructible. In the early fall and late spring consider the 1/8 oz version as it can be dynamite.

Excellent habitat to 'wake' a spinnerbait includes scattered lily pads, shallow brush, flooded pepper grass and of course, submerged hydrilla. Also, with our lakes rising from recent rains, the shoreline grass will hold bass which will respond to a waked spinnerbait. I'm in good company with anglers who are high on Lonnie Stanley's spinnerbaits. Rick Clunn, four-time Bass Master Classic winner, said in referring to the spinnerbait just mentioned, "This spinnerbait is in a class all by itself." Another pro, Tommy Martin, who is basically a legend on Rayburn and Toledo, said, "Over 150 fish on one Titanium spinnerbait from Stanley Lures and it ran just as true on the last one as it did on the first."

As far as choosing an effective rod and reel for this technique, I will suggest a combination of an Abu Garcia 4600C3 and a seven-foot Berkley Pro Series Lightning Rod/medium action with fifteen-pound test Trilene Big Game line. The 4600C3 has the same retrieve ratio as the legendary 5500C3 (5.3 to 1) but has a narrower spool and a thumb bar. The medium-action Berkley Pro rod has great tip action for long casts, enough cushion when a big bass makes a run, yet it has plenty of power to handle strong fish. This rod/reel combination does not sink your fishing budget either as the rod sells for about $50 and the reel about $65-70.

The other spinnerbait method that so many anglers use to catch bass in colder months is the 'slow-roll' presentation. This method may take some anglers a while to develop ample confidence, but it needs to be included in every serious bass angler's bag of tricks. Once the water temperature gets below 60, I use this approach a majority of the time when fishing a spinnerbait. On Toledo and Rayburn where slow-rolling is done mostly over submerged hydrilla, my choices would be the 1/2 & 3/4 oz. sizes Stanley Titanium with double gold willowleaf blades. For deeper slow-rolling over the outside grass lines and along deep ledges, I really like the 1.5 oz. Big T which comes with either a single willowleaf or a single Wedged Thumper blade. Another excellent spinnerbait made for deep slow-rolling is manufactured locally under the name of George Jeane's Custom Spinnerbaits. George Jeane, Sr., and George, Jr., are both excellent anglers and have been manufacturing these baits for several years.

Most experienced anglers who use the slow-roll approach develop their own style/method of this presentation. The basics are this....find scattered underwater vegetation (hydrilla if possible) in depths of six to eighteen feet and cast the spinnerbait into it and let it settle to the bottom while being alert for a possible strike as it falls. Then begin a slow retrieve allowing your bait to frequently come into contact with the bottom/vegetation. When you pull your bait off the grass and it falls a foot or two, stay in contact with the spinnerbait and be ready for a strike as this is the moment when most hits occur.

Many times the strike will be light, but set the hook quickly and hard no matter how light the strike, because the biggest bass in the lake can inhale your bait sending little notice to the cold, numb angler. For slow-rolling, since sensitivity is critical, an excellent rod choice is Fenwicks 7 foot HMG A/V series in a medium action/fast tip.

Whether you are 'waking' or slow-rolling, the spinnerbait is one of the most effective tools in your tacklebox. December can be a super month to slow down one's spinnerbait presentation. If a big bass is what you are hunting, a large slow-rolled spinnerbait may be your weapon. One final tip, most anglers use a trailer to slow down the rate-of-fall and also to add action to the bait. One favorite is a Berkley 4 inch (white) split-tail trailer which has a built-in scent. I also spray the entire bait with Stanley's Spoof (Garlic Flavor).

I hope you get to fish a few days during the holidays....Merry Christmas and May God Bless!

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