Lakecaster Online

By Len Fairbanks

By May Day (May 1st ), the spawn will be virtually 100% complete and the bass will be transitioning from their springtime patterns to their summer patterns. A lot of the bass during this time of year will be suspended about three or four feet down in five to seven feet of water. Sometimes they will be in the bushes and the buckbrush and sometimes they will be out over the top of the moss on some of those main lake moss beds, such as Needmore or Farmers or Buck Bay. I don't know whether it is the stress of the just completed spawning ritual or just contrariness on the bass' part but many times these suspended bass are not aggressive enough to chase a 'Trap or a spinnerbait. But if you present them with something slow and subtle, many times you can catch some of these fish that the other guys leave behind. Probably the best baits for doing this are a Sluggo type bait or a wacky worm.

For a Sluggo type bait, I prefer either a Zoom Fluke or a new bait by Berkley called a Power Fluke. I rig these baits with a 4/0 or 5/0 wide gap bent shank hook like a VMC Carolina Special. This wide gap type hook really increases the bite to catch ratio by allowing for a better hookset and it's also one of the few hooks made today that comes out of the box sharp enough to fish.. I always hook these baits in "Texposed" fashion, which is nothing more than a variation of the old Texas rig method. But instead of leaving the hook point buried in the plastic, I will bring the point of the hook point completely out of the bait and just "skin hook" the very point of the hook back in the plastic. For colors, I prefer something natural like a Smokin' Shad or Baby Bass or Watermelon or Arkansas Shiner.

For a wacky worm I usually use a Zoom Trick Worm or a Zoom Finesse Worm. Either one of these in plain watermelon, watermelon with red or blue flake or sour grape will catch bass for you. The traditional method for fishing these wacky worms is with a spinning reel with 8-12 lb. line and a straight shank, gold crappie hook. Usually the worm is hooked in the middle with the hook point exposed. The reason for the spinning reel and light line is that this arrangement is too light to cast on conventional baitcasting tackle. I prefer to use a different arrangement that the pro's call a floating worm rig. This rig is really popular in Alabama and the Carolina's, and I picked it up while I was traveling with the Bassmaster's TV Crew. This rig is like a short Carolina Rig with no weight. First, I tie a barrel swivel on the end of my line. Then I cut my line about 18" above my swivel.

Next I tie the other end of the barrel to the end of my line and finally I will attach a 2/0 or 3/0 VMC Carolina Special hook to the 18" leader that I left on the end of the barrel swivel. I usually try to tie my hook so that I have 10"-12" between my hook and my swivel. Now I will Texas Rig my worm on my hook, but instead of inserting the hook in the end or head of the worm, I start my hook in at about 1 1/2 " from the head. This gives me a rig that I can throw on my baitcasting rig and its also more weedless than the standard exposed hook wacky worm. When all else fails, throw either of these baits either in the bushes or over a moss flat and slowly twitch-twitch the bait back to the boat. Remember to fish it slow or you'll keep the bait at the top of the water, since you don't have any real weight with either of these rigs. You'll be amazed at how many bass these rigs will produce when nothing else seems to work.

Since the floating worm rig is fairly light, I almost always throw it with 14 lb. line but I prefer 17 lb test for the Flukes. Make sure that line is fresh, premium quality green monofilament. I know that the green color is hard to see, but I seem to get more bites when I use it. Maybe it's as hard for the fish to see as it is us. I use a 6 1/2' All Star medium-heavy action worm rod (model WR1) for both of these baits. I prefer these longer rods to give me just a little extra leverage when I hook a big fish. Also, I use like to use a quality, high-speed baitcasting reel with a thumb bar release like an AbuGarcia 4600C3 or UC4600C.

I sincerely hope that at least some of the information that I have provided was enlightening or maybe entertaining but most of all 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) 563-4063. Until next time, catch all you can and release all that you catch. Good luck, be safe out there and may God bless.

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