Swimbaits and the Delta, Part 2
Last issue we discussed in general the oppurtunities available when using swimbaits here on the California Delta. This month were going to take a closer look at which swimbaits and tactics work best during the Spring spawn and post spawn of early Summer.
Fishing swimbaits is a mindset, which is very different from our day to day tactics in chasing the black bass. It is a big fish tactic that requires us to think much differently in the way we fish. It requires that we understand that we are not fishing for numbers, but infact much larger quality fish. With that we must also understand and accept, that we are not going to get as many bites in a day as we normally would say tossing a weightless Senko, jig, crankbait or spinnerbait. We must also really think about the areas we are fishing, We must really think through the process of, what are these big bass doing. What types of patterns do we need to focus on, to better present our baits, as these bigger fish are on the move in and out of the shallows.
Fishing swimbaits on the River is not about venturing out onto the water and just chucking and winding. It's about chucking and winding with a purpose. And that purpose it to put your bait in the proper strike zone to attract one of these bigger river giants into striking your swimbait. In the spring, many anglers enjoy the opportunity to run up into the shallows and fish for those bass they can physically see on the beds. In most cases, this is not the best situation to be tossing a swimbait at them. Granted, there are times when you can toss a giant swimbait out and let it come to rest on a bed and they will strike it. But I personally think there are far more baits available that are more productive in doing this. Swimbaits are reaction baits, and when we have fish on beds, their focus is really on that spawning process. They rarely pay much attention to anything that swims through the bed room and leaves. They're not going to pay much attention and chase a bait that runs through and away from their focused zone. You are more likely to have a giant bass chase down you swimbait, if that bass is either staging to move onto the bed, or after the spawning process is completed and their focus is on feeding. So it is very important that ya think about this when tossing swimbaits on the River. Look for those areas where the bass are staging, before and after the bedding process.
This typically can be anywhere from 20 feet to 200 yards from where you actually see and locate beds. It could be on the outer edges or in the middle sections of the tulle groves, not way back in the shallow pockets. When fishing docks, focus on the outer corners at the end of the dock, or right in the center of the protective slip, not all the way up against the bank. Weed beds out in the middle of the flooded lakes, especially those that are near openings that provide a path way for these fish as the transition from deep, to shallow and back. Points with extended weed flats that provide a 3-8 foot drop into deep water is an excellent place to look for these staging bass here. This is the thought process and mind set that needs to take place when deciding where to toss your swimbaits here.
We must also be prepared to use much stouter equiptment. Larger, stouter rods are required. Reels equipted with wider spools and higher gear rations are a must. And the line we use has got to be of greater test weight to not only support the larger baits we're tossing, but to gain better control and effectiveness in the inevitable fight that is to come when we attract that strike from these larger fish. If you attempt to use swimbaits and chase these bigger bass with inferior equiptment, you are sure to have yer hearts broken and loose more battles with these bigger fish than you'll win.
During this period, I use three types of swimbaits here with great success. Each of them covers the three basic zones you can fish swimbaits in, that being on the surface, sub-surface and the down under zone. Examples of each would be the Black Dog Lunker Punker on the surface, where I prefer to use an 100# Stealth braided line. The subsurface wake baits, such as the MS Slammer and and various wooden Rats, I prefer to use the baided lines. Last but not least is the down under baits such as Sunrize Tackle's Big Hammer or Yamamoto's Heart Tail, where I'll use 20# fluorocarbon. In each case, I'm using very strong, sensitive and extra heavy line. This is an absolute must here on the River.
Keep A Tight Line!