Until DEPTH Do Us Part

Spring fishing is almost too easy. Just reach into your tackle box and throw it to the shoreline and reel em’ in. After the winter when fish of species slow down and feed less frequently they move into the shallows and eat everything in sight. Add to that the preparation for spawning, commonly known as the pre-spawn which occurs at 55 to 62 degrees. Now fish of all types eat at every opportunity. During the bass spawn, approximately 62 to 68 degrees, fish go into protection mode and guard their nests, they do not eat. Obviously after the completion of the spawn they are ravenously hungry and because they are exhausted they move off to deeper water and in many cases suspend, just feeding when they can. You might say to the previously successful shallow water kayak anglers, until “depth” do us part. Where did they go? Casting to the spring spots might produce a fish or two but can be frustrating. Post spawn fish, suspended fish, deep water inhabitants are some of the hardest to catch. When you do find them you can fire up a school and have a memorable fishing experience.


Time to use your electronics, visual scanning, common sense and a little instinct. Bass are still object oriented and will migrate to specific objects and bottom contours or distinct changes. Some of the same baits used in early spring might still work but a few different choices might add up to lots of kayak catches. Easily one of the most critical keys to catching deep water bass is putting the bait in and keeping it in the strike zone for as long as possible. Baits in this category include but are not limited to crankbaits (lipped and lipless), jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, drop shot rigs and some soft plastic lures. My first choice is the crankbait. Previously I’ve had a love / hate relationship with the cranks. Hooking many bass while crankin’ but not being able to land them was frustrating.


Going deep. Retrieving the bait in a controlled level even with or above the suspended bass is important, it creates a normal attack position for the fish to “rise to the occasion”. There are multiple ways to accomplish this. Once determined what depth the fish are found through the assistance of electronics or trial and error, you can use the rod position (tip up, shallower or tip down, deeper) to change the depth reached by a crankbait. Another potential depth determination is by changing the line. I prefer monofilament in the range of 12 to 14 pound test. You can easily change the diving capability of a crankbait by utilizing a simple change of line. Simply stated a line change to a smaller diameter line ten pound test will drive the bait deeper, a heavier, larger diameter line will make the bait ride higher. Looking at the plastic bill of the bait gives you strong indication of how deep it will dive, coupled with the information normally printed on the packaging you have a great start. Hard jerkbaits are made to suspend slowly or rise slowly. Bass have a hard time ignoring something that stays in front of them for an extended period of time, jerkbaits excel in cold clear water or when bass seem reluctant to bite. With soft plastics, worms, tubes, creature baits, grubs and other bogus wigglers you can control the speed of the fall and the retrieve. The fall is determined by the amount of weight used with the bait. For Texas rigged plastics a slip sinker varying from a tiny 1/16th to a full ounce of lead will change the descent of the lure. Again line size and lure size will also contribute to the fall rate. Drop shot rigs have the weight tied to the end of the line so it aids in casting and the rate of fall but after that the weight stays close to or is just used to drag and make continuous contact with the bottom. The weight of a spinnerbait again will figure into the fall but the anglers retrieve will definitely decide how deep in the water column the lure travels. In lieu of electronics a good pair of polarized sunglasses are helpful as is the Line Cutterz ring for quick change of any type of bait. www.linecuttertz.com. A pre-trip game plan can also minimize choices but maximize your casting time. Fill the tackle box compartments with lures that cover water quickly, search baits, crankbaits and spinners. While bait colors matter, they take a distant second place to putting any bait in the zone and retrieving the lure to make it look injured, easy to catch or like the real deal.


Likely hideouts are again objects like submerged wood or setups which are a great set up for the “deflection” bite, that is intentionally bouncing the bait off of cover. Bass find it hard to turn down a bait hits and deflects off any type of hard cover. Creek channels are great when fish are in transition for any reason. Essentially a bass highway, creek channels serve as travel areas for bass and bait. To pattern deep water bass you must be alert to minute details. They can be like the famous Kentucky Lake ledge fish where a solid pattern emerges or they could just as probably be on the channel break. Inside bends, outside bends could also be in play. Another potential honey hole are points, again very much a possible pattern, points can go from a long minimal dropping grade to a steep drop into the specific body of water. Highland reservoirs are notorious for this fast falling topographical phenomenon. Isolated cover in the form of aquatic weeds is a gold mine when early season bass relocate to beds of coontail moss, hydrilla, cabbage weed or other greenery. The oxygen, ambush point and cover created are made to order for bass and the informed angler.


While cruising the shoreline in search of fish, is more comfortable to the infrequent angler, abandon the bank and look for the first type of secondary cover that might hold fish. Deep fish being schoolers means you can catch several fish from one spot much like the offshore bonanza you can find in the fall. Fewer “thin” water bass requires moving to deeper areas because very predictably fish take on the attitude, if you want to find me it is in accepting the commitment we are now at a relationship status defined with the statement, “until depth do us part”.

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