Some of the Sights Along the Way
Time for Pre-Fish
The Tour Is Over Time To Take Care of Business
While pre-fish I discovered a few different successful techniques as well as learning that the bite was very tough and deep. One of my pre-fish bites was on a drop shot, without feeling a bite I moved the bait and realized a bass had eaten the worm. Thinking about this soft 'pressure bite' and looking at the weather conditions, I understood I could expect more of the same. After practice I prepared my confidence techniques and included a drop shot set-up.
Prior to each days competition Co Anglers have the opportunity to talk with their draw for the next day. I always try to get a sense for what type of water and fishing style the Pro has in mind. Not always but I find most pros to be somewhat helpful when I ask the appropriate questions regarding what to expect while out on the water. All the clues pointed to a drop shot bite.
Day 1 started and initially I was matching the relative fast fishing pace Kenta was using. Targeting ledges in 25' to 30' he caught a good keeper quickly with a swim jig. The ledges had scatted brush and in places small clumps of boulders. After making several unsuccessful presentations with a deep swimbait I switched techniques and started presenting the drop shot.
With the wind blowing strong and heavy cloud cover I was set up with a Ventana drop shot weight. By creating a stronger 'Sphere of Influence' the rattling weight would help fish locate my worm in these cold cloudy rough conditions. Feeling only pressure, no bite, I set the hook on my first keeper. Soon after I put number two in the boat, the only indication from this fish was when I saw the line pop. Line watchers are rewarded!
After I caught fish number two my draw switched to the drop shot. Noting it as a complement, nevertheless I really dislike it when the pro switches to the same technique I'm using and having success with. But in this case I didn't mind for three reasons, 1) he slowed down from his faster pace, I like that when I drop shot a difficult bite 2) with the deep bite you could cast at targets 360 degrees around the boat 3) he didn't have any Ventanas. Every time we fished this type of water I caught keepers, bringing a limit to the scales, finishing in 15th place for the day.
Day 2 started with my pro draw Matthew Lee 'sight fishing with sonar' in 50 feet of water, which meant he was using his electronics to see fish positioned on the bottom and then dropping the bait vertically right on top of the fish. There were a few boats close by and I could see everyone was fishing a drop shot. Within a short period of time Matthew landed a keeper, a co-angler nearby landed a 3 pound fish and his pro, Matt's brother Jordan, landed 4 quick keepers. It didn't take long to realize that there was something to my set-up that wasn't quite right.
I changed to a Bulk Shot tungsten weight and added a little more length to my drop. I felt the round shaped heavy tungsten weight would thump the bottom nicely. Shortly after this adjustment I was bit and placed a very nice keeper in the live well.
As we visited different types of water throughout the day I keep searching for a set-up that the fish would favor. The first fish gave me confidence and at the end of the day we returned to Mathew's 50 foot deepwater spot. On the last cast of the day I hooked up again with another solid keeper. That fish moved me up the leader board tied for 11th, placing me in the final top 12 cut!
Day three I drew Kurt Dove a local Amistad guide and Bassmaster Elite Series Pro. Kurt's main focus was a large submerged flat with deeper water on all sides. This 'Mesa' had vegetation growing on top of it and we were primarily searching for fish at the thirty foot mark. I started out with a drop shot set up similar to day one. Kurt caught a keeper and both the pro and co on a nearby boat were catching fish.
Shortly afterwards I noticed a piece of green vegetation floating on the surface. It was about eighteen inches in length. This prompted me to completely redo my set-up. I tied a drop length a bit longer than the floating grass (two feet) and used a lighter thinner profile Slim Shot weight.
I wanted to hold the drop shot worm up from the bottom near the top of the grass and the lighter slimmer weight would move thru the grass easier with no hang ups. Day one and two I fished two different shades of purple worms. During these post frontal conditions I changed to a lighter color smaller profile worm.
Everyone around me was, to a degree, fishing the same way. I noticed that throughout the tournament my draws and the anglers nearby were mostly shaking their drop shot so in order to separate myself I would cast out and hold the bait as still as possible. When the boat moved far enough and I was dragging behind the boat I would then reel up to make another cast. This day all my bites would occur during the middle of my retrieve. Meaning that the midpoint of the retrieve placed the worm at the distance from the bottom that appealed best to the bass.
When thinking about the length of your drop understand that based on the position of your retrieve the height your bait is above the bottom varies drastically. The further out your cast is away from you the closer your lure will be to the bottom. Consider this when you want your bait to be a specific height in the water column.
I travel for many reasons, new water, new experiences, new challenges, new exposure... I have always tried to search and adjust to different techniques but never before have I adjusted so much within the same technique! Hope you not only enjoyed the tour but also the recount of my lessons learned. See you next time!