What a fun time on Highland Lake this Morning! My tournament partner, Kevin and I had wanted to do a fun trip this weekend and got out fishing from a little after 6AM till noonish. We ran straight to Perch Rock and threw a Spook, Super Fluke, and a drop shot with Kevin boating the first of the morning from the deeper rocks on the small worm. But not much else. Fun trip or not, I still wanted to get bit so we tended to take easy boat rides from spot to spot. We worked a couple other areas in the second bay and caught a couple more on the drop shot, and then a couple more on jigs and Brush Hogs from the cabbage grass. All largemouth with fish from a pound and a quarter to 2+ pounds. So far so good. A nice morning.
The next area we moved off to has a small rock ledge creating a point that ends around 19 feet. Pitching a ¾ ounce black/blue jig with a black/blue Rage tail to the shallower portion of the ledge has a 2.25 pounder inhale the jig on the fall. A good north wind was bearing down on us so I used it to my advantage by sliding downwind of the structure and then allowing my Minn Kota Ulterra to spot lock, and keep us well positioned to fish this pretty small spot. That trolling motor held us in a perfect position and within a couple of pitches a 2.5 largemouth eats the jig with no real bite at all, but more a heavy feeling. Two better ones from the same spot, one on the fall, and one from the bottom. Both, not your typical jig tap. The third bite from the rock though was a TICK! As soon as I set on this one I knew it was a good one. Glad I was throwing that jig today on my 7’-11” St Croix Tournament Legend flipping rod. As I winched this heavy and strong fish from the deep water, we got a quick glance of giant bass. And then, she blasted off for the depths again causing a long slip of the drag and a huge pull in the rod. I got the fishes head turned and had her coming for the center of the boat so I got down to the cockpit area and quickly grabbed hold of the massive jaw of an honest 7.5 pound largemouth bass. Wish I had gotten a girth measurement but it was 22.5 inches long. The Berkley scale was showing 7.7 and 7.5 so I’ll go on the low side and call it 7.5 and my new best bass from Highland lake.
We had to try out some more deep rock stuff. This time in the third bay. I moved my jig up to a one ounce version to better probe that 19 foot zone. We went awhile before the next fish but when it came it was another above average bass for Highland. This one was 3.6 pounds. I think Kevin was starting to lose faith in the deep bite but when you get those better fish, it’s all worth it. So we kept at that game for a while. Another deep rock spot rewarded Kevin with the next quality fish into the boat. He got his on the same color jig but a Berkley Chigger Craw trailer. His hit the scale at 3.5 pounds. Our “relaxing” morning of just fishing, just went to over 14 pounds with 3 fish!
As the morning was approaching mid-day, we spent some time fishing shallow again. Jig baits primarily, and the bite was back on. Some on rocks, some in grass, but none of the shallow fish we caught had nearly the size of the deep bass of summer. We got off the water today with 14 or 15 keeper bass between us, a new personal lake record, and a joyous feeling that the fish are finally moving deep. Fishing deeper water in the summer can be slow at times but very rewarding at others. The next seasonal pattern is about ready to unfold. Look out Lunkers!!!
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.