Growing up in Eastern Iowa, chasing Largemouth Bass was my passion. From my early years as a scab-kneed 8 year old, running around local ponds from sun up to sunset, into my teens, I’ve always been trying to find ways to trick these popular fish into biting. I spent many days with my grandfather in his bass boat, searching for hungry fish the many lakes dotting Eastern and Central Iowa.
With the opportunity for nearly every angler in America to target these fish and just as many techniques out there to catch them. I’ve always enjoyed pursuing them using soft baits. I’m going to tell you some of my techniques for targeting big bass here in Southwest Florida. While I have to admit, being landlocked in the midwest during my childhood wasn’t so bad. I quickly forgot my desire to chase freshwater fish once I got a taste for the salt here in Florida.
But here I am, seven years later, finally coming back around to my old friend. After a day or two I’ve gotten back into the swing of bass fishing. You don’t really think of it when fishing the salt all the time, freshwater seems like it was so easy. We’ll, I’ll tell you, I quickly regained my respect for those Bass anglers that are able to consistently produce quality fish.
I can make this general comparison, in the salt, much success can be attributed to timing. Timing the tide, migration, forage, etc. Usually the challenge is landing a big fish, not necessarily finding them. Freshwater fishing on the other hand, relies upon technique. For the most part, you know where the fish are, or at least should be. But cracking the code, to which you can get a big fish to eat, is the challenge.
Fishing lightly weighted or unweighted soft baits have been producing the biggest fish and the most numbers. I’ve really enjoying using the new 4inch Skinny and 1/0 weighted swim bait hook. This tight little package has an awesome erratic darting action, even when worked slowly. I have found fan casting an area the most productive. Starting close to the shoreline, I’ll let the bait sink to the bottom and give the rod tip a quick jerk. Short movements produce the best for weary bass. I’ve found, I need to leave my very fast and erratic saltwater retrieves at home. Working the bait slower than I’m used to, paying extreme care to the pauses. Watch your line for any indication of a hit, it may only move a little, but it could be a big fish that just picked up the bait and you’ve got to drive the hook home before it spits the bait. Luckily, soft baits have a very natural life-like feel and give you a few extra moments to find a fish on the end of your line.
Continue fan casting, working your way out into open water. When fishing mid day, the larger fish are usually staging in the cooler deep water. Make sure to work the mid depths as well as near the bottom, as fish can stage in these depths. This is where the lightly weighted swim bait hook really shines. It’s not too heavy as to sink right to the bottom, but it doesn’t take forever to get there either. I’ve had the best luck using the bone color in the 4inch Skinny.
Obviously, fishing during low light is always best. I will always try to get a few casts in that last 45 minutes around sunset. But, you can’t always fish during the perfect conditions. I’ve still have good success pitching this combo into cover, like fallen trees and deep grass during the heat of the day. Often, I’m able to pull several fish from one area mid day. The heat and sunlight tend to concentrate fish into small areas, find these and use these techniques. You may just find fishing in the afternoon to be very productive as well. Don’t forget to try the larger Skinny Sizes too. I’ve pulled some real nice fish using the 6inch Skinny Smokey Minnow and 9inch Skinny Black.