BassWestUSA - March/April, 2011, Page 73

The four Z-Man soft-plastic baits accounted for about 75% of the 5,570 bass we caught in 2010. From our experiences, Z-Man’s ElaZtech nesse baits are the best soft- plastic nesse baits. We nd that they elicit more strikes for us than other soft-plastic baits. Furthermore, they are so durable that the same bait can be used to catch 150 or more bass, and as these lures become more worn and torn, they become more allur- ing and inveigle more bass. Another positive feature is that the well-worn ZinkerZ and Finesse WormZ readily absorb Gulp! Alive! nightcrawler scent. The four most fruitful colors in 2010 were Junebug, white, peanut butter and jelly, and green pumpkin. We retrieve these lures four different ways: swim and glide; hop and bounce; drag and dead stick; and straight swim. We rarely probe water deeper than 12 feet and prefer depths of one to eight feet – even in the dead of winter and heat of the summer. Because the weight of the jig-and-soft-plastic combo is extremely light, neophytes to Midwest nesse often complain that they can’t feel what the lure is doing and where it is – especially when it is windy. Unfortunately the no-feel element of the retrieve becomes so disconcerting that many neophytes give up before they master the manifold virtues of the no-feel presentation. Ninety percent of the time, we shake our rods during the retrieve rather than hold- ing them steady and implementing the do-nothing retrieve that Charlie Brewer of Law- renceburg, Tennessee, popularized decades ago or the I-Motion tactic that some Japanese nesse anglers have recently discovered. Sometimes the shakes are slight and intermit- tent. At other times they are vigorous and constant. One of the critical factors of each outing revolves around determining the type of shakes and weight size of the jig that are the most productive. In the waterways that we sh, we ply a lot of shorelines. We rarely probe brush piles or similar objects, and that’s because we suspect that many of the bass that inhabit those con nes are relatively inactive. What’s more, our tackle isn’t suitable for extracting bass out of those quagmires. Instead we spend a lot of time focusing on what Guido Hibdon used to call nothing- looking areas. We have found that the bass that inhabit these featureless areas are often overlooked by other anglers, and we also suspect that these bass are more active than the ones that are buried in brush or other objects. We also probe beds of submerged vegetation, such as coontail, bushy pondweed, milfoil, and curly-leaf pondweed, as well as the outside edges of patches of American water willows. There are many weeks throughout a year when we will nd riprap and rocky shore- lines, as well as shallow offshore rocky humps, to be more fruitful than the featureless shorelines and patches of vegetation. This often occurs for a month after the spawn and during many weeks during the fall. We have noticed that the rock-paved parts pay good dividends when the curly-leaf pondweed wilts in June and some of the other vegetation disintegrates as the water temperature drops in the fall.

March/April 2011