As a self-proclaimed shallow water fishing fanatic, I have spent countless days chasing skinny water bass. During that time, I have made my fair share of mistakes that at one time or another have kept me from reaching my full catching potential.
Here are some shallow water fails that I believe make a huge difference when targeting bass in the shallows:
Silent..... Like Hunter
For some reason, anglers tend to underestimate the value of the element of surprise. For hunters (many of which also are fishermen) the concept of the element of surprise is considered essential to success. For whatever reason, many fisherman don't approach fishing the same they would hunting.
In shallow water situations, the element of surprise is especially important as you are much closer to your prey. One of the biggest things that anglers do that gives away their presence is making too much noise in the boat. Everything from slamming locker lids, to slapping your lure on the water to free grass from the hooks, is chipping away at the element of surprise that can help you catch more fish.
Some other things I try to avoid are:
-Trolling motor related noises (try avoiding as much cover as possible)
-Unnecessary use of sonar (try putting your Lowrance on "stand by" mode)
-Stepping loudly around the deck.
-Dropping pliers, or anything else on the deck.
Once again, taking away from a hunter's playbook, you always want to be aware of anything that might give away your presence. A fisherman's shadow is one such give-away, and something that you never want to be cast over the fish you are trying to catch.
When I am fishing any shallow cover, one of the most important things I take into consideration (especially in the morning hours) is where my shadow is. I always try to keep the sun in front of me, and I certainly always try to avoid letting my shadow fall over cover I haven't fished yet.
Nobody Likes Backwash
I see it time and time again- an angler is fishing fairly fast through shallow targets, and then gets to a prime piece of cover, but the boat is moving too fast and he needs to turn the trolling motor around and backwash the cover to slow the boat's momentum. Some guys will actually think they can catch a fish after such a blunder, but in my opinion, the odds are slim.
One of the keys to fishing shallow cover is to constantly be looking forward of the boat and planning your boat positioning strategy at all times. I always like to make sure I have identified what is likely the most productive cover in an area, and approach the area with that piece of cover in mind. I never want to get to a productive piece of cover and be going too fast, causing me to use the trolling motor to avoid a target.
Using my Power Pole's to slow down my drift as well as anchor the boat while I am fishing a key piece of cover is also another approach when it is possible.
Overall, these three fails revolve around being a hunter on the water. If you are doing something that a hunter in the woods wouldn't do, than you probably are missing out on reaching your full potential while fishing shallow water.
I’ve never been a big fan of sight fishing for bedding bass.
Sure, there is the moral dilemma of catching a fish that is trying to spawn- which I tend to avoid at all costs during fun fishing- but in a tournament perspective, I would say my distaste for the tactic is more deeply rooted in the fact that I am an impatient person, and I don’t like putting time into catching a single fish, when I could be covering water in search of more aggressive fish.
With this in mind, I am also aware than during the spring it is often a necessity to target fish in some phase of the spawn, and thus I have formulated a strategy for catching spawning fish without sight fishing for them.
This is going to be a good year. In recent memory, I cannot recall feeling so enthusiastic, hopeful and confident in my fishing and career aspirations to begin a season.
The reason for this optimism is primarily due to moving back to Florida, where I'm able to resume my regular fishing regimen. That was something I was unable to maintain while living in California.
So far this year has seen a more consistent fishing schedule than I have experienced in a couple years, and I feel my fishing has already started to improve. With that being said, there are still some aspects of my game that the recent Bassmaster Southern Open on the Harris Chain revealed need some work.
I'm a self-proclaimed grass fishing freak!
I love implementing power-fishing techniques to find big bass in vegetation, so it is no surprise that I was very excited about fishing the most recent, and final, Bassmaster Open on the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana.
In essence, the Basin is a massive labyrinth of hundreds of miles of rivers, marshes, canals, bayou's and bays filled with lush aquatic vegetation and lined with jungle-like cypress tree forests.
After a week of eliminating miles of Louisiana marshland I was able to find some productive patterns that lead to a 29th place finish in the third Central Open of the year.
Even when you are fishing good, sometimes it just isn’t meant to be.
To me, “fishing good” just simply means that you're able to make the best decisions and maximize your success with the cards you're dealt.
With a newly adopted simplistic approach to my tournament fishing, and a renewed confidence in my decision-making, I believe that I am in fact fishing well, but as is evident in the results at a recent BFL Super Tournament and a Bassmaster Open, sometimes that’s not enough.
Photo: Jason Stemple Photography and SE Multimedia
Question: What should I throw if I fish lake okeechobe this time of year, and should I go to deep water or stay back in the grass flats? -DUSTIN
Great question Dustin!
Lake Okeechobee is as legendary as it gets when it comes to bass fishing destinations, and in my opinion it deserves every bit of its excellent reputation.
Joey pokes fun at the fact that I have a hundred different "home lakes" due to the fact that I have pretty much lived in every corner of the country, and had the pleasure of having some pretty epic lakes close to home. However, of all the lakes I've frequented, Lake Okeechobee tops the list of the ones I feel at home on.
Despite it's stellar reputation, the Big O, like many Florida grass lakes, also is known for being a hard nut to crack, mostly due to the overwhelming amount of vegetation anglers must sift through to get to the mother load.
Here are some tips on how I break down this massive fishery.