With a forecast for the next several days that looks more like April than late December, those who want to include a bit of bass fishing in their holiday celebrations may want to shift gears in how they fish. The slow and deep (and boring) tactics that are an essential part of cold weather fishing can be set aside for a few days, and some tactics that work well in the post spawn can be dusted off and enjoyed.
One lure that shines for this sort of warmup is the soft plastic swimbait, which with variations in head weight and tail size can be fished at depths anywhere from 2 feet to 20 feet and still catch plenty of bass.
The warmup, slated to last in the 60′s until Wednesday and then only slide into the 50′s, is likely to mean plenty of bass in the TVA chain moving to shallower water, particularly in areas where the grass has died back to only scattered strands and where a black mud or moss bottom will trap the heat from any sunshine. Shorelines that are exposed to the sun from noon to 3 p.m. or so will warm faster than those that are shaded, and areas in protected bays will be warmer than those on the main lake.
Swimbait fishing is simple but precise–get the right weight of head and the right size of tail for a given depth and pretty much all you have to do is throw it out and crank it back; the fish do the rest. But some swimbait designs are definitely better than others.
Shad tails with large swimmer knobs on the back tend to produce more action at lower speed than those with smaller knobs, so these can be useful particularly when you’re fishing deeper water where it requires a slower retrieve speed to keep a lure near bottom. It takes more weight to keep this type of tail down, but they often produce better, even in shallow water.
Every tail/head combo has an optimum retrieve speed, and the way to discover that is to crank the lure around the boat to see what works best. The idea is to crank just fast enough to bring out the vibration.
I’ve always liked the Tsunami Swimshad, a hangover from my saltwater days that also works well on largemouths and freshwater stripers, but a new lure just out has shown a lot of promise the few times I’ve been able to fish it so far. It’s the 360GT from Storm, which they call a “searchbait”.
It’s a swimbait with a lead head that’s molded to exactly fit the shape of the various sizes of tails; the 3/8 ounce head, for example, fits the 5.5 inch tail, while the 1/8 ounce head fits the 3.5 inch tail, and so on. The tails have a hook channel molded in, which makes it easy to get the tail on exactly straight every time, a big factor in the success of any swimbait.
The shape of this bait not only gives the tail a really good swimming action, but also causes the body of the lure to vibrate, almost like a lipless crankbait, when you get the speed just right.
The lure not only seems to really appeal to bass, it’s tough; I caught 11 on the 1/8 ounce version earlier this week and the tail looks good for lots more fish still. For details, visit www.stormlures.com.
Depending on where you fish, you may need head weights up to 1.5 ounces, but so long as it stays warm, odds are good the bass will be moving shallow and staying there, which means lighter heads will do the job.