This year I was very fortunate to have an incredible season both fishing for fun and in tournaments. I was able to fish In five different states and fish more tournaments than I could count. No matter where I went or what I was fishing for there were a few key baits that would just flat out produce. From the rivers of central michigan to the freshwater marshes of Florida these baits always produced fish for me. On the tournament side of things I was able to utilize each of these techniques to help me secure some big wins and the Indiana Kayak Anglers AOY title for the second consecutive year.
The first bait that I wanted to talk about is one that is very well known. For me the buzzbait was never the first thing that I would pick up; however, it is a bait that I rarely put away. For most of the open water season and for most of the tournament season the water is warm enough to throw one. The reason that I like the buzzbait so much is because of its versatility. I throw them through heavy wooded cover, open water, through duck weed and even through scattered lily pads. Throwing top water baits in general is one of the best ways to draw vicious reaction strikes, but in my opinion the buzzbait is the best. It is virtually snag proof which allows it to be fished in places where those big treble hooks can’t go. My favorite aspect of the buzzbait is the speed which you fish it. Well at least the speed I fish it. With a fast retrieve an angler can cover a large amount of water to find where the fish are. For me, a finesse angler, the buzzbait allows me to cover water and find fish so that I can then go back and pick an area apart using a finesse approach.
Flukes are one of my go-to baits on rivers or pretty much anywhere else. Since there are literally a million ways to fish a fluke I’ll talk about my favorite way to do it. My all time favorite way to fish a fluke is to fish it weightless on a wide gap hook and dead stick it. This works exceptionally well in situations with moving water. If i’m in an area where I know fish are positioned I will set up off to one side of the river and cast at a 45 degree angle upstream and allow the current to pull my bait down river and right to the fish. Since river fish generally face upstream this tactic literally brings your bait straight to the hungry mouths of the fish. I would highly recommend giving this a try the next time there are hungry fish feeding in the current. Another great way to fish this bait that has proven successful for me is to skip docks with the weightless fluke. Algae grows on the poles and on the floats of docks so it’s not uncommon to see baitfish hugging the underside of dock floats or clustered around the dock supports. Skipping the fluke up under a dock and letting it sink on slack line is a perfect imitation of a dying baitfish and oftentimes those bass can’t resist!
The last bait that I would like to talk about but certainly not the least important is the ned rig. This rig will literally catch anything anywhere anytime but works exceptionally well for clear water situations. Fishing this bait has become my primary method of catching bass. Since, like the baits I talked about above, the ned rig has a million ways to be used I’ll talk about my favorite and most successful way to fish it. Deep clear water will always be a perfect opportunity to throw a finesse bait but in my experience nothing can catch those deeper fish like the ned rig. When faced with deep water and a weedy bottom I let the bait fall down on slack line to about half the depth of the water. From there I begin to work it back with a “shake shake shake pause” rhythm. Depending on the depth and the water temperature I will vary the length of the pause. Sluggish fish won’t chase it far so mastering the “pause” can make all the difference. When there are weeds my goal is to work the bait along the the top of the weeds. I do this by a sort of trial and error process. I let the bait fall until I think it is right on the top of the weeds. When I lift my rod tip up i’ll know if i was right. If it’s caught up in the weeds then I know the pause was too long but if i feel nothing then it wasn’t long enough. I continue this process until I find the perfect “pause” length to keep the bait in the strike zone and I work it back while maintaining light contact with the weeds that i’m fishing.
Republished with permission from Jackson Kayak.