Lakecaster Online

BUZZ BAITIN' ON 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. Buzzbaits have been working on Lake Livingston since the bass came off of the spawning beds in March. And it will continue to catch bass until the water temperature drops into the 50's sometime in November or December. 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 and many different colors. I usually use a 1/2 oz. size. This size seems to catch bigger bass, but sometimes, especially this time of year, 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 silver or nickel colored blade and a white skirt. If the water is off color or the light level is not very bright I use a chartreuse/white skirt. On 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.

Let's talk a little about the tackle. For line, I suggest nothing less than a quality 14 or 17-pound green premium monofilament. The rod that I prefer to use for buzzbaitin' is a 6'6" medium-heavy action; straight handled worm rod made by Fenwick (model HMX T66MH or a GTC-786). Any of the quality, high-speed baitcasting reels on the market today make excellent buzzbait reels. I prefer one with a thumb bar spool release like an Abu Garcia 4600C4.

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 (logs, stumps, brushpiles, weeds, bushes, etc.) that we can see in the water. This is where a good pair of polarized sunglasses becomes extremely important because they allow us to see cover that is under the water. It is amazing how much cover is just under the water and we can't see it because of the surface glare. Polarized lenses will allow you to see through this glare and will also protect your eyes from the sun's harmful u.v. radiation. I prefer glass lenses in my sunglasses because they do not distort visual images and they are much more durable and scratch resistant than plastic or polycarbonate lenses. Ocean Waves is makes a mirrored lens color called "Backwater Green" that is an amber based color that gives you a lot of underwater clarity while really knocking out almost 100% of the glare. With a little care and if you can keep from sitting on 'em these sunglasses will last a lifetime. These type of high quality sunglasses will allow you to see this underwater cover which is some of the best and most productive that we can find because everybody who comes down the bank fishes the visible cover that sticks out of the water. But that stump that just looks like a dark spot under the water only gets hit by someone who knows what they are doing. 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 blades 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. 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. You only want to use an overhead hookset as a last resort when you are caught with your rod out of position. With the fish in shallow water, an overhead hookset only encourages the bass to come to the top of the water and jump. And if you have caught any bass at all you know that we have a good chance of losing our fish if he is on top of the water shaking his head and just generally thrashing about. So 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 (409) 327-1932. 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, Berkley, Trojan Batteries, Turbo Props, Dual Pro Battery Chargers, Bill Lewis Lures, Castaic Soft Baits, VMC Hooks and Ocean Waves Sunglasses.

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