BassWestUSA - Summer, 2013, Page 78




admit it, I am addicted to punching! My addiction has led me to spend countless hours refining baits, looking at hooks, and making sure that I have the right rods and reels. I have no problem admitting that I own 8 punching rods and it’s not uncommon for all 8 to be on the deck at any given time. The basic concept behind punching is putting a soft plastic bait into cover where normal baits won’t go. The number one mistake that most anglers make is that they strictly target hyacinth. Hyacinth is my least favorite aquatic plant to fish and I tend to avoid fishing it unless it’s dead and/or in iso- lated patches. That is not to say that bass do not live in hyacinth, because they do, but that darn stuff is usually too hard to get a bait through. My favorite cover to punch is a good grass line or bamboo. I had a string of five top 10 finishes on the CA Delta between 2009/2010 and they all involved punching bamboo. The CA Delta is full of bamboo, but it can be difficult to find bamboo in the water or at the correct depth. Punching bamboo can be really good when it blows over into a pile on the bank similar to a trash pocket. Punching a good grass line would be tied for first place for the type of cover that I like to punch most. For two years there was a deep grass line that ran for 2-3 miles in the back of Pixley Slough. Don’t worry it is gone now. That grass line produced more 6-8 pound bass than anywhere that I have ever fished on the CA Delta. The problem with a good grass line is you never know when the aquatic sprayers will come in and kill it. A good grass line has 4-5 feet of water event on low tide. The bass live in a good deep grass line year round. The key to punching is cover, bait, rod/reel, depth, and baits. I choose to punch with an 8 foot Daiwa Steez flipping stick and a Daiwa Type R Zillion 7.3 reel. The light weight of the Steez rod makes it a breeze to punch 1.5 and 2 ounce weights all day. If you can’t foot the bill for a $700 rod, then make sure that you select a rod that has enough tip and backbone, but that is not a broom stick. A high speed reel is a must when punching. A 10 pound bass can suck up a 2 ounce bait in a split second and you need a high speed reel to catch up to the fish. Lastly, you need a bait that will go through the cover with ease. Ninety per- cent of the time I am punching a bea- ver style bait such as the Missile Baits D-Bomb. I only use two colors: Oxblood and Candy Grass. If the fish won’t re- spond to the D-Bomb, then I will switch to a smaller profile bait such as a Mis-

Punching techniques

By ricKy SHABAzz

sile Craw in the same two colors. The biggest tip that I can offer is that punching is about the rhythm of hopping your bait off the ground to trigger bites. Gone are the days when the majority of fish bite on the initial punch through the cover. I hope these small tips help you punch more bass. Dr. Ricky Shabazz, Ed.D. is sponsored by Angler’s Marine, Mercury Marine, Motorguide, Ranger Boats, Navionics, Lowrance, Missile Baits, PowerPole, Popeye’s Chicken. BWU



Summer 2013