Wednesday, July 12, Candlewood Lake. For the last few years my bass fishing club has been holding a tournament on Candlewood Lake in the middle of the week. Everyone loves it! We all know the fish bite better during the week as compared to the weekends and, the boat traffic is reduced greatly. Unfortunately, word around the fishing community was that Candlewood was fishing very tough.
We launched on a humid summer morning with air temps already in the low 70’s at 7AM under partly cloudy skies, and had a surface water temp of around 78F. We watched the surface temp climb to 81 in the afternoon with the air temps running near 90 without too much of a breeze but, my partner Kevin and I also caught our first fish of the day on our first spot on about the third cast. I hadn’t even gotten all my rods out of the locker yet before Kevin was asking for the net. That was a pretty good sign that perhaps the bite was improving over what other folks had been experiencing. That 1 and ¾ pound bass came from the start of a weed bed near a point and we continued to work the grass all around that point until we got to the other side of it when I scored another 1 and 3/4 pound largemouth from near where the grass ended on the other side of the point. Kevin’s first fish came from about 14 feet of water on a watermelon red flake Brush Hog while mine came on a green pumpkin Baby Lake Fork Creature in about 10 foot.
Listening to what our first two fish were telling us, we proceeded to run around to several other spots similar to the first focusing the majority of efforts on the beginning and end of the weeds beds. A fairly reliable summer tactic for Candlewood. Well, not only did we pitch and flip our baits in and around the grass, we also had to mix in a smattering of spinnerbait, and topwater to keep things honest. Basically, all we got for our efforts was a lot of casting practice. After a couple/few hours we went back to the point that gave us our only two fish and started on the opposite side to where we started before. It was the same old thing of a lot of presentations with no reward. As we came to the other side of the point however, we saw a team of our competitors working up the bank but very close to where Kevin had caught his first fish. I kicked the trolling motor to high and we zoomed on down to these guys to say hello. They were complaining also how the bite was horrible and they only had three fish while we were stuck on two. They continued on their way and as the distance between us grew, I maneuvered the boat to within pitching range of the “sweet spot”. This time Kevin placed his Brush Hog on the inside of the weeds and then I hear, very quietly, “Uh? Jon!” I turned around to see Kevin’s rod fully loaded up and I made a dash for the net. This fish was digging hard into the grass but Kevin pulled it out effectively and I ended up scooping in a very nice 5.45 pound largemouth. From the very same area two other guys just got done fishing!
We hit a bunch more spots and even went back to the “sweet spot” for a third try but we just couldn’t convince any more bass to bite. Kevin did get a couple 13 inch yellow perch on his copper bladed, white spinnerbait but, when all was said and done at 3 O’clock, all we were going to bring to the scales was three largemouth. 18 boats participated and only 5 teams weighed a 5 fish limit with a couple of those limits not finishing in the money. First place had about 13 and ½ pounds. Second had about 12 and 1/12 while third had only a bit over 11 pounds. Kevin and I finished 6’th with 9.03 pounds BUT his 5.45 pounder was big fish of the event and paid $180 PLUS he took over Lunker Largemouth for the year so far with our tournament trail being at the halfway point. Though the catching was far from good, it was still a great day on the water.
July 18, 2017
Summertime! My most productive time of the year. Generally, from late July through August there is a good population of bass that have moved off of the bank and onto and into some deeper water. During the daylight, give me two rods. One rigged with some kind of jig type bait, and the other being a dropshot rod.
Once the fish get out to 13 feet or grater in our area waters, they become easy targets for the drop shot technique. The overall set up is relatively simple. You have a weight attached to the end of your line with a small, thin wire hook attached about a foot above the weight. Attach a numerous array of soft plastic worms, minnow imitators, or crawfish and, you are going to get bit. If not by bass, nearly all other fish see your bait as a feeding opportunity. If you like fishing a Senko weightless, wacky style, the drop shot may be right up your ally. As there are many methods to fishing (i.e.) retrieving a drop shot, the majority of your bites will come as the bait is sitting still. Just as the Senko works best allowed to fall on a free line, the drop shot can often be at its prime while sitting still.
For me, a good drop shot bait has to float. Or at least not sink fast. A bait such as a 4” Roboworm will generally float the light wire hook off the bottom weed or muck. The 4” Lunker City Ribster, and Gary Yamamoto, Shad Shape Worm are also good choices as well as the Z-Man Finesse Shad. All of these baits have a tendency to float and imitate a small baitfish almost perfectly. Enough of the baits. I’ll leave that to the marketers who. By the way do a great job offering us very style and color imaginable. I’m nor sponsored by any of them.
What is the perfect rod and reel for dropshotting? Everyone has their own preferences but, I want a high speed spinning reel (6:1 or greater) in the 200 class paired with a lighter rod in a Medium action with a moderate power, around 7 feet long. I first started dropshotting using 6# P-Line Flouroclear line (which is outstanding light line for ANY application) but moved to 10# Power Pro braided line. This year, I moved to the same line but in yellow. Due to eye sight and many missed fish on the drop I made this adjustment and so far so good. With the braid, especially the yellow, I am tying on the 6# P-Line Fluoroclear as a leader, about 8 feet long, using a simple and fast Uni to Uni knot. I use a Gamakutsu #2 Split shot/drop shot hook. The next size up moves to a heavier wire and changes the presentation. It is absolutely amazing on how well this tiny hook sticks the fish. And lastly, the weight. I prefer the ¼ oz. Linker City Bakudan SKINNY” OR “PENCIL” WEIGHT. The thin cylindrical weight MAY come through the cover better. After the uni to uni knot, and about 8 feet of leader, I tie the small Gamakatsu hook about 1 foot of the end of the line using a Palomar knot. The tag end of that knot will be re-inserted through the eye of the hook dropping downwards and the weight simply pinches to the bottom of that line.
The retrieve, can vary from a slow pull to sitting absolutely motionless. Sometimes they want that bait quivering which you can do by shaking the rod tip on a slack line, while at other times they may want you to cover some ground and pull it slowly across the bottom. The retrieve largely depends on the mood of the fish so let them tell you how they want it. All fish seem to want this bait, it takes a bit of time to figure out what type of bite is a bass bite and which are nuisance fish. Either way, in the summer time this rig will get enough bites to keep your interest level up.
The hook set. Due to the nature of that small hook, and if you are using braided line, your hook set does not need to be violent. Contrary to the typical rubber worm hookset, most times with the drop shot it is no more than a “Lift and reel” situation. That tiny light wire hook often stabs them itself as soon as you put pressure on the line. From then on through the battle is usually up to your drag, and the rod. Crank when the fish is not pulling, and let the rod absorb the shock when they are pulling. Even using a light monofilament line, you usually do not need to give the hook a monster hook set.
The great thing about the drop shot is that it can be used not only in the summertime but the spring in shallow water can be pretty productive as well as the fall and winter when the fish get grouped up on points and sharp drops. All the modern electric sonar units on the market now may give you an opportunity to “video fish”. In the late fall/early winter time, you can mark individual fish on your sonar and drop you rig on top them and most likely catch that same fish. Myself and others have also used the drop shot while ice fishing. It works! Not all the time, but enough to keep me coming back to it but, in the summertime when the bass are setting up on their deep stuff, it is definitely one of my preferred techniques.