from the earliest days when a curious angler wondered what might happen if he flicked a worm near a stone dam to today’s monstrous hydroelectric wonders, keeping it basic and learning the intricacies is the key to landing that bass that creates memories.
“I have photos of smallmouth with the swimbait all the way down their throat and the only thing you could see if you closed their mouth was the line coming out of it,” Mason said. “I really try to keep it pretty simple. Those three baits work if I’m fishing below the dam, or if I’m working some other areas down from the dam such as rock jetties or gravel bars.” For the swimbait Mason will use a heavy action Kistler 6-foot-11 Argon rod with a 6.3:1 Ardent XS 1000 reel and 15-pound Vicious fluorocarbon, or 17-pound Vicious co-polymer and a 5.1:1 reel for the spinnerbait. With the tube, he goes to 8-pound test fluorocarbon on a medium- heavy Kistler Helium rod. “It’s not magic. The whole deal is fishing correctly in the current and maintaining bottom contact,” he says. “Your cadence and retrieve is the most important thing. You want to touch bottom about every three seconds because if you don’t you’ll hang, and if you never touch bot- tom you won’t catch anything. “With the spinnerbait and swimbait, if I’m sitting outside the current I’m casting upstream at about a 45 degree angle and letting it sweep out with the current. If I’m drifting with the current, I’m casting to about a 90-degree angle and letting bait drift back with the boat at the same speed. “With the tube, I’m casting straight upstream with the current and let- ting it drift behind the boat. A lot of the time I’ll make short pitches, almost identical to live bait. It’s just mimicking a shad.” BW
For information about fishing with Tennessee River guide Jimmy Mason, visit www.jimmymasonbasspro.com