I’ve only been able to get out twice in the last two weeks. Both on a Saturday, and both on Highland.
Last Saturday I had the pleasure to fish with James and his teenage son. The day started slow with a couple of tiny bass but did pick up as the day went along. We had 69F water temps with partly to mostly cloudy skies and a west wind. Of course, we had above average air temps, and it even sprinkled on us for a couple minutes. We tried a bunch of different tactics but a 4” grub on a 1/8 ballhead, and a dropshot with a Shad shape worm provided most of the action. A couple largemouth, two small smallmouth, and a few pickerel provided just barely enough bites to keep the guys interested. By total coincidence, James caught a couple of largemouth from in front of a house that he is under contract to purchase. How awesome is that! Knowing you can catch decent fish from your dock ought to help the sale. James also fly fishes for trout and was pretty excited to see the trout population in Highland, as he caught two 15 inch brown trout on the drop shot while they were rising around us at midafternoon over 30 feet of water. Not a great numbers day, but everyone enjoyed their time on the water.
This Saturday, Oct. 14, I was solo and had every intention of staying shallow with a topwater, chatterbait and a spinnerbait but, I talked to a guy I know in the parking lot who is a trout master on Highland and he was telling me stories of the big bass he had been getting while trolling alewives. . It made perfect sense in my mind, knowing how big smallmouth shadow bait balls and suspend. Being that it’s now mid-October, some of those smallmouth ought to start finding their way to some of the deep hard bottom areas. So, curiosity get the better of me and I pointed the boat southward. The first spot I moved over was showing fish on the Humminbird mega imaging and hopes were soaring as I positioned up, and on my first cast with a drop shot FindBass Mino I hooked up with a giant. This fish bit as soon as I started cranking it off the bottom. Once hooked, I had a hard time gaining much line on this fish. After a few head shakes, it dug hard for the bottom over 24 feet of water and put my 6# P-Line Fluroclear leader to the test. This guy did not want to come up at all and after nearly one complete walk around the boat, my line finally parted leaving me to wonder what it was that I was just hooked up with. After re-tying, a couple of casts later I hooked up again. Not as large as the first fish but it still felt pretty good. It sure felt like a smallmouth but alas, my dang leader snapped again! Time for a new leader and rig. After taking the time to do this, of course I got no more strikes. Picked up a 3.8 Kietech on a ¾ oz. head and did the slow, next to the bottom, retrieve, A few casts later and I hook up a good fish from deep water only to find a big pickerel at the end of the battle.
With 65F water temp and a cloudy to clearing sky with yet again above average air temps, and no wind, I felt as though the bite was going to toughen up as the day moved on, and I wasn’t far from wrong. An interesting note for the day was there were a good number of big pickerel around the 20 to 28 foot hard bottom areas. They were a bit entertaining, but I really wanted some quality fish. I took a look at a lot of areas that I don’t normally fish at Highland and the pickerel continued to be active. It wasn’t until the late afternoon before I pulled my jig rod from the locker and that was only because the dense cabbage weed I was round looked too nice. It was all for naught until I pulled up on spot in the middle of the lake. Putting my jig on the top of this 10 foot point and pulling it off the rocky ledge allowing to to fall into the 20 foot zone, I finally got the whack I was waiting for. This big girl now digging across the front of the boat was another beast type fish. After leading it around the front of the boat and positioning myself at the passenger cockpit seat, I made short work of lipping this 21.5 inch, 6.0 pound largemouth beauty. This fish may have been a fluke or, it pushed the other fish of the spot but either way, it was the only one I got from that spot.
October is only going to get better with the big girls finally getting active as the water temps drop and the smallmouth will soon be starting to set up well. The next few weeks will be interesting.
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.