BassWestUSA - January/February, 2010, Page 43

duced surreal numbers of big bass while using a wide variety of presentations; us- ing these unique and highly productive baits here on Southwestern waters. Dur- ing pre-spawn, big females congregate for the spawn and most are staging. With a few already on beds, wake baits will tempt spring tanks around heavy brush, tulies, weeds, trees and solitary bushes located across expansive flats. Pre-spawn staging fish and spawners alike, will viciously at- tack these baits during most conditions. During approaching fronts or weather win- dows in between fronts with winds starting to kick up, these baits can become even more effective day or night. In the main lake basin areas of deep- er lakes and reservoirs, pelagic planter trout and pods of baitfish will roam dur- ing the summer peak period as big bass will follow gorging themselves on their preferred forage as they recover from the spawn. Using wake-baits during this sce- nario will produce big time. The prime bite frame weeks during early summer when buzz baits usually temp strikes from gi- ants, is an optimum time to take advan- tage of wake baiting. In fact, it’s just the ticket. The slower presentation of a wake bait and its natural profile can trigger huge bass in a neutral feeding mood before the actual late night prime feeding window ac- tually occurs. When a slower presentation is needed even during peak activity levels, again these baits can be your optimum choice for tempting the largest bass in any system. As the early fall bite gets into gear and even thru early winter in some geo- graphical locations, these baits can excel in taking huge fish under a variety of condi- tions. The combination of wake baiting and shallow running swim baits is a tactic I’ve used more since moving to the Southwest to trigger bites from giants here on high elevation canyon reservoirs. After chasing trophy bass thru the Northeastern part of the country for more than 5 decades, I can only imagine what these tactics would have produced on my favored big bass wa- ters back home. Retrieves with wake baits and using in combination with shallower running swim baits with a wake and stop process proves to be one of the most productive ways to trigger huge bass in any waters across the country. I’ve experimented with a wide ar- ray of presentations with these baits under all conditions and through the entire sea- son. In certain circumstances, a medium to faster steady retrieve with a wake bait can be the ticket during high activity lev- els day or night. Other times, erratic quick

snaps after a slow steady wake then dead- sticking the bait proves to be the most pro- ductive. Some of the hottest baits I’ve found on the market for waking and a combina- tion of wake swimming include: Jackall’s Mikey, Mikey Jr. and Dagored, Fish Arrow’s Monster Jack, 3:16 Wake and Wake Jr., Dep’s Buzzjet, River2sea, Wood N’ Slither, MS Slammer X2, Optimum’s T’S Refrex, Black Dog Go To Minnow, OP Mag Shad and Matt Lures Bluegill which can be fished in a wide variety of circumstances. The Matt Lures Bluegill and Spro BBZ-1 4 inch shad and 6 inch trout work well for a combo retrieve while working various depths in the water column. Spro offers the BBZ in a shallow running series and slow sinking model for various uses while targeting bass in a variety of activity levels or for fish in a neutral mode. These four mentioned baits can be productive thru the entire season and should not be lim- ited to specifically pre-spawn or bedding bass. After more than 5 decades of night fishing, I’ve had huge success with these style baits using variable presentations through the different night bite windows from dusk until dawn. Experimentation with presentation and size of baits during all conditions will help you determine the most productive approach with these baits on the waters you are on and are always your best op- tion. Try not to be limited. Think outside the box. Don’t make the mistake of us- ing wake baits and swim baits exclusively during the time of year for rainbow trout plantings. These baits can produce on wa- ters that don’t even harbor trout popula- tions. With all the latest high quality baits on the market available today your options are almost endless. Though many anglers prefer and continue to use these baits dur- ing limited times during the season, I can assure you that these baits using a wide variety of methods can produce huge fish through the entire season. By using a wide variety of these baits in different models and various forage imitators, wake-baiting and swim baiting tactics are certainly not limited to certain regions of the country. Adding these tactics to your bass arsenal anywhere you fish, can help you achieve astronomical results in your quest for tro- phy bass. During the most productive times for chasing the largest bass in any system your on, the next step involves target- ing deep water, mid-lake structures with the same basic tactic with adding a few variations. Locating the largest bass in the

system at a variety of depth levels relat- ing to changes in bottom contours, humps and variations in bottom content with your electronics is the first step to the process. Once groups or single fish are located and position in the water column is de- termined, the process of strolling or inter- mediate slow trolling with subtle pauses begins. The baits used may be different, but the principle is the same. Basically, in a full day or full night of fishing, you’ll be covering active bass from the shallow flats and breaks through mid-depth fish, down to less active pigs locating in the main lake basins. Depending on preferred for- age during various seasonal time frames, these fish locate at various depths in open water and may be either chasing pelagic baitfish and trout or relating to off shore structures and subtle changes in bottom content crunching on crawdads. I start this deep water scenario rig- ging 3 swimbait casting rods with 30 to 80 lb test braided line and 3 feet of heavy fluorocarbon leader. I’m strolling with mainly 6 to 9 inch swim baits in a variety of color choices. For this strolling scenario, I prefer slow sinking to medium sinking models, but occasionally use fast sink models in larger sizes depending on the particular body of water fished, depths targeted, and size potential of bass. When Bass are zoned in on stocker rainbows and chasing cruisers on or near the sur- face, either on shallow flats or out over off

aBouT The auThor

Brett Richardson is a freelance writer, veteran Trophy Bass Hunter and Multi-Species Big Fish specialist who has been chasing trophy fish throughout the US and Canada for more than 5 decades. After Spending 52 years on the East Coast, he now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada


January/February 2010