This has been the busiest March/April I've ever had in spite of very windy conditions in the last few weeks. Warmer weather moved the fish shallow earlier this year, but sub aquatic grasses are nowhere to be found where I fish. This means I have to introduce my clients to crankbaits that dive about 3 feet. This is a tougher thing to do as most consider crankbaits as "idiot" baits - that is any idiot can toss them out and crank them back to the boat. NOT TRUE! These baits are finesse lures, being crawled through shallow cover, like rock and wood. They can and do become snagged, if not finessed!
When introducing clients to these crankers, I first make sure they can cast. I take them to my spots and let them cast after a brief overview. Then I help them tweak, stressing accuracy over distance. To become more accurate, you must pick a target on every cast. Next is lure control. Lowering the rod can make the bait run deeper and lifting it enables lures to crawl over cover. The key is contacting cover and not getting snagged. Cover is holding fish and bumping and stopping are the best ways to entice fish to come out of cover to eat lures. Here, I use a few techniques - I'll stop when I hit cover to allow the bait to float up. Not long either. A split second is enough. Next, after bumping and floating, I'll twitch the lure, pull the lure, or jerk it. This is varied on every retrieve. Sometimes a pattern will develop.
But casting is really key. I had a trip where the clients insisted on casting as far as they could throw. These lures will go a mile on spinning gear. The trouble was, they were outcasting the hot spot. In addition, the water they came through was loaded with algae and the hooks became fouled before their baits made it to the strike zone. Also, I was able to make more casts in productive water by making shorter casts. After I caught a few, they wondered if it was the color of my bait, totally ignoring my casting instruction. Noting this, I cut my lure off and tied to one client’s line and got another identical for the other client. I took his lure and tied to mine and continued to catch fish. It was only then did they stop and take note and started catching fish.
Another trip to note was with a 10 year old and his dad. The kid worked his tail off and was rewarded with a very nice Potomac River bass!I n fact, I had him using a lipless crankbait, much more difficult than a floating crankbait as it is crawled on the bottom. He made his own casts, worked the bait properly and was rewarded! He said he thought he was snagged when the fish hit. Then when he saw the line moving, he thought he had a fish, but when the fish jumped, he knew he had a fish.
I look forward to a great season and fishing with my regular clients along with new ones!
Have fun and BE SAFE!
Capt. Steve Chaconas
National Bass Guide Service
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