BassWestUSA - Summer, 2012, Page 38

Justin lucas:

fishing, a few things go hand in hand with the summer months. The first is particularly warm water and the sec- ond is a lot of vegetation in the water. Warmer water means less oxygen in the water, and lots of vegetation means shade from the heat, making the summer months a perfect time to fish the punch rig. Since the oxygen content of the water is low, you need to look for factors that can bring oxygen into the water. Current is the first thing that I look for when fishing in the summer months. Current brings added oxygen to the wa- ter and also brings in forage. The next think I look for is any irregularity in the cover or grass. It’s not much different than fishing a crankbait down the bank, the fish seem to hold onto terrain that is different. For the crankbait, it might be a small point, a brush pile or a rock. For punching, it might be a little cut in the grass, a patch of a second type of grass or maybe even a little submerged point of subsurface vegetation. I don’t have a particular depth that I look for. I have caught fish in water any- where from one to eight feet deep while punching. If you can find water deeper than that beneath some mat, then you can prob- ably catch fish there to. What I do focus on is the edge of the cover. The edges are where bass are setting up to ambush prey. One thing to keep in mind is that only fishing your bait on the bottom beneath the cover is missing the boat, so to say. Keep in mind that most of the fish living in this vegetation are feeding higher, off the bot- tom of the cover. That is why I will punch my bait through the cover and then let it fall to the bottom. Then I retrieve the bait to the bottom of the cover or vegetation and shake it there. This emulates a crayfish or baitfish fleeing for cover from the bass. I get asked often how far apart I make my casts. The answer varies depending on the day. During practice I am trying to cover a lot of water so I may make a pitch every two feet or so. When I return to the productive ar- eas during a tournament I will pick the place apart with casts maybe as close as a few inches apart. It also depends on what I am fishing, re- member I am keying in on irregularities. If there


Summertime Punch Rigs

are a lot of irregularities in a spot, I will make more casts to it. If its just a bland patch of grass with no changes, then I make less casts. Of course, every situation is different but this is my typical system. I’d say 70% of my bites happen on the initial fall, 10% hap- pen on the bottom, and another 20% happen just below the cover. Don’t miss the 20% that many anglers are missing by not fishing the bait up to the bottom of the cover. One of the most difficult things about punch fishing is getting the fish into the boat. I have come from the mindset of get the bite, then worry about landing the fish. However, I can honestly say that I made a switch in my rod not that long ago, and it made a huge difference in my landing ratio. I switched to the eight- foot Jared Lintner Punch rod by Powell rods from a 7’6” heavy flipping rod and my success ratio skyrocketed. I never knew how much of a difference the eight-foot rod would make until I tried it. If you plan to do any punch fishing, don’t make the mistake I did and go out with the wrong rod. Besides being an eight-foot rod this rod ac- tually has a softer tip on it. The soft tip really comes into play when pitching the bait. It is very important to target cast and a rod with- out a soft tip just isn’t accurate enough. Pair up the eight-foot rod with a high speed reel. I use a Revo SX HS reel for all of my punch fishing. For my tackle, I have a box of weights from 3/4 ounce all the way to two ounces, and I’ll use every size of them at different times. I generally go with the weight that is just enough to get me through the cover. If it’s too big, it will fly right past the bass. If it’s too small, you will con- stantly battle to get it through the cover. My absolute favor- ite bait for punching is the Havoc Pit Boss. This bait is the perfect combi- nation of slim enough to get through the cover and enough action to get the fish to bite. From the moment I first saw this bait, I knew I was going to love it. Its action is subtle, which is perfect for the clear water that lurks be- neath the cover. If I had to pick one color to use, it would be the



Summer 2012

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