Try This Trio Of Summer Techniques
Editor's note: This blog installment comes from Fishhound pro staffer JR Mundinger.
Each summer in the Southeast, as the water temperatures reach into the 90s and the bass hit the ledges, patterns become very similar from lake to lake. As a result, anglers slip into the trap of fishing a few reliable techniques that quickly become overfished. Crankbaits and Carolina-rigs dominate the search-and-catch tackle, but there are other ways to catch summer bass.
Here are three alternative baits and techniques to try next time you go.
Large spinnerbaits, such as a Ledgebuster, will not only cover water, but will quickly get down to where the big ones live. These are at least 3/4-ounce and weigh up to 1 1/2 ounces. With a single No. 7 willow-leaf blade you can swim these baits through deep-water structure just as easily as you can fish a regular spinnerbait along shallow banks in the spring. With only a single hook, these big spinnerbaits come through submerged brush, trees and most other trash that's associated with ledge-fishing. If you need to decrease the rate at which the bait falls, simply tip it with your favorite soft-plastic trailer.
Jigs are another great weapon for your summer arsenal, but are rarely used by weekend fisherman. Some of the biggest bass I've ever caught have come from a 3/4-ounce football jig. Although heavy jigs aren't No. 1 on every bass angler's list, they should be part of your summer lure selection when fishing offshore ledges, points and humps. Heavy line and a stout rod are a part of this package, because bites a lot of times will come on the fall and you need to be able and take up slack quickly. Most anglers fish these jigs just like a Texas-rigged plastic worm, or they can be hopped, stroked or even swum back to the boat. I prefer dark colors and a bulky trailer for stained water, and natural colors like watermelon-seed or pumpkin tipped with a smaller trailer for clear water.
The Umbrella rig is one of the hottest techniques on the planet right now. They've been around for quite some time, but were mostly used in saltwater or for striper fishing. An umbrella rig is made up of a single leadhead with four to six wires that extend rearward 8 to 12 inches, each with some type of swimbait attached. This rig has proved able to catch suspended bass when no other techniques can. The total weight of the rig itself can weigh up to half a pound, so casting can be tricky, not to mention tiresome if you throw it all day. Heavy equipment is a must and includes braided line or larger-diameter fluorocarbon, along with a heavy 7'6" rod (a Deep South Rod is my choice for success). This setup will enable you to not only catch the big ones, but also catch multiple big ones at once. I watched a video of one angler catching three largemouth up to 4 pounds and a 6-pound striper at one time.
Next time you fish a lake with offshore structure, give these off-the-beaten-path techniques a try. You never know – one might become your new favorite.
Until next time, be safe, have fun and always wear a lifejacket while boating.
Cliff "JR" Mundinger was a yankee before he moved to the deep south 15 years ago. He calls Tallahassee, Fla. home and is currently the TV host of New South Outdoors. He also provides content for newspapers, magazines and various Internet outlets. He competes in bass tournaments and still guides for bass. You can catch up with him at FishTallahassee.com.
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