What's in your Tackle Box? By: Bryan Rice
As we open the lid on our tackle box, the weather is hot, and schools are out so the lakes are super crowded most every day. I strongly believe that fish, like most creatures of nature, have become “self-trained” to these times. We need a “school’s-out, summer-go-get-them-bait.” So, what’s in your tackle box?
I’m going to place many lures in what I like to call the “bottom bouncer” category, that will get the job done. Like every tool in your tackle box, bottom bouncers also are versatile, so don’t limit yourself to the techniques used in this article. You will find thousands of anglers who all have a way to fish each lure in very detailed and specific styles. They can all teach us something. This is how I use them to keep it simple.
Bottom bouncers for me are football jigs, worms, Carolina rigs, and drop shot. Now, if you noticed, I mentioned football jigs, not all jigs. Now simmer down, we’ll cover other types of jigs in another segment.
I use each of these in about the same way – to search deeper water on drops, ledges, points and channel breaks. When I say deeper water, I mean anything that I cannot reach with a medium 7-to-9-foot diving crankbait is deeper water. I look for clean rocky areas with drops or shelves at different depths. I like quick drops, not slow, tapering slopes, although many fish can be caught on slopes.
Scattered grass is a plus but you want areas that your bait can “crawl” through naturally. If there is heavy grass on points and ledges, I will fish the outside edge, starting parallel to the grass line, maintaining a consistent depth, then moving out and fan-casting the same areas. If there is water flowing over these areas, position your boat so you can cast into the current. Remember, fish feed into the current, always! If your bait comes bouncing by with the current, chances are fish are looking in that direction for an easy meal.
These baits imitate crawfish, centipedes, snakes, and other rock- and grass-oriented creatures that would be searching for a meal themselves. Mentally picture what that creature would look like under the water and try to work your bait that way. Crayfish may feel threaten once and a while and “jump” off the bottom then settle back down to a crawl. Use the football jig in this way. A worm or a snake crawls and searches for food and may swim fast when scared and then stop to see if it was followed. Drop shots are great for imitating small bait fish, hanging near the bottom, looking for a snack.
Color choices will vary but let Mother Nature help you out. If the water’s clear, use natural colors. Green pumpkin, brown, brown and orange, and watermelon are my go-to colors. If the water’s stained, I use darker baits such as black, June bug, and red. Try even dying the tails of the worms and drop shots red, blue or chartreuse.
Fishing this way is also very forgiving, and we could all use some of that. Accuracy is not as vital with these methods as, say, presenting a spinnerbait to a laydown or edge of a dock. I have found that I can relax a little, take a breath, and get myself into a positive mental game by fishing bottom bouncers at different times throughout the day since I don’t have the pressure of precise presentation to trick ole Mr. Bass. Simply put, I can just drag around in the right areas, get in front of a few hungry lunkers, and they will bite!
I will say this in most all my articles and in all my seminars: There is no wrong way to fish a lure! I advise everyone to take little pieces of everything you learn, watch, or read. Go on out to the lake and develop your own style, and you’ll learn what works for you over time. Developing your own style and learning the techniques that work best for you, will make you a more comfortable and confident angler.
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