Heavy Metal for Big Winter Bass

I bet when Chris Cornell penned the lyrics to the hit song “Spoon man” he never fathomed that a fisherman would associate the first verse to a fishing technique, I hope he would approve or at the very least, find some humor in it. There’s some truth in those lyrics though, fishing a spoon requires the fisherman to have a rhythm and the ability to feel even the most subtle change in pressure, lure action and line movement and it doesn’t hurt having a cool song in your head while you are on the water.
 
Winter gets a bad rap when it comes to fishing…Its cold and can be down right miserable if you aren’t prepared but bundle up because if you haven’t heard, “winter is an awesome time to fish.” Generally what happens in winter is the shad school up and the bass and other predator fish feast. Sounds like a sure thing and it can be if you do your homework.
 
The first part of the code to successful winter spoon fishing is locating the shad. I’ll study a lake map and pinpoint potential creek arms. These creeks will usually have a tad bit warmer water than the main lake and the shad seem to really like that. I’ll scout the area in my kayak until I locate shad schools then I turn to locating any bass that may be near by. On a depthfinder the shad will sometimes be so thick that you won’t get a correct depth reading. I have seen bait schools so thick in water that I knew was forty feet deep yet my electronics read off of the top of the school and said it was eight feet deep so it’s hard to not notice when you’ve hit the mother load of bait. After finding the shad I’ll attempt to circle the school for three reasons, to judge how big it is and to hopefully find active predator fish feeding. If I don’t see the markers of feeding fish I  then look for bass staged on the bottom or those that are suspended somewhere in the middle. A non active school of bait will look like a cloud but an active school will usually look like worms or noodles. This is caused by predator fish slashing through the school while feeding. (Note: If you see these streaks on your fish finder screen drop a lure down there, preferably a vertical jigging spoon like a Hopkins, Kastmaster or a flexit spoon. Bass that are suspended usually will be somewhere in the middle water column and those staged on bottom will look like dots scattered on the lake bed, usually not stacked vertically but associated horizontally to the bottom. When I find out this information and I am pretty sure that the bass are down there I’ll mark a way point on my fish finder or toss out a buoy and get to work.
 
Obviously if the bass are suspended I’m not going to hop a spoon on the bottom ten feet below them but for those bass that are associated to the bottom I am going to throw a flutter spoon. Why a flutter spoon you might ask? Simple, it mimics an easy meal of a wounded shad and if you ask any tournament pro on any of the pro bass trails most will tell you that a spoon will catch the biggest bass out of a school. That’s what we want isn’t it, the biggest fish in the school?
 
The setup I use for a flutter spoon is a seven foot or longer medium heavy action rod with a fast tip, a 6.5-1 baitcast reel and 12-15 lb fluorocarbon line. My setup is an iRod Fishing Crusher series 7’3” (IA733C), an Abu Garcia Revo ALX 6.5-1 spooled with 12lb P-Line tactical fluorocarbon line. I’ll take that rod, back off of the school, make a long cast and let the spoon sink on a completely slack line while watching the line for any change. If the line jumps or comes to a stop before you think it has reached the bottom…set the hook! Once the spoon is on bottom I’ll retrieve it with a rod pumping motion by raising my rod from the 3 o’clock position to the 12 o’clock spot and again, it is imperative to let that spoon fall on a slack line. The slack line allows the spoon to do it’s job in generating the strike. What the bait is mimicking is a wounded shad trying to flee then fluttering back down to the bottom. If the bass are really active they may smash the spoon on the rise or the fall, leaving you absolutely no reason to guess if a fish has the lure but in most instances they’ll grab it close to the bottom of the fall and when you raise your rod to continue the retrieve you’ll feel pressure, at that moment you need to set the hook. I don’t set the hook really hard because I feel that with such a large hunk of metal you run the risk of blasting the fish’s mouth open so I sweep my rod in a firm and steady motion then start reeling.
 
The spoons I use vary depending on conditions like water clarity, temperature and depth. The past few weeks the bass in my lake has been hugging the bottom for the most part in 20’-35’ of water so I’m using a fairly heavy 5.75 inch spoon in a shad pattern. If the water was stained I’d use a gold or darker color and if they are just swiping at the big spoon I’ll try a smaller 2.5”-4” spoon.
 
The kayak I’m fishing from is the new Jackson Coosa FD, it’s a pedal drive boat and it has helped me immensely in very windy conditions. I’ve located these schools far from shore in open water where the wind and waves could make staying on a spot difficult. I simply face the wind and make my casts. If I drift because of wind I’ll make a couple of pedal strokes on the Jackson Flex Drive causing me to essentially tread water in the same spot. If the fish move I can pedal around, easily cutting through the wind trying to re-locate the bass and bait.
 
In the past two weeks I have been thoroughly convinced of the power and ability of the spoon with it catching six fish over five pounds and three over seven not to mention the numerous two to four pound fish that have bit it.
 
If you want to catch big fish, do some homework, grab your winter gear, your fishing rod, a few flutter spoons and head over to the lake. It’s time to witness what this lure can do and try your hand at becoming a “Spoonman” too.
 
Thank God for little plastic boats! Jim

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