Friday, October 1, 2010

Still can’t kick the swimbait habit

Few baits say fall bass loving like a plastic swimbait. After a less than “fab” run with the shad imitation last time, I decided to go with a different flavor on this trip. The lake sports a few schools of bluegill and sunfish (as well as shad) so this time a Storm Live Sunfish was tied on.

The eyes on this swimbait model do not protrude like the ones on the Swim Shad model that gave me trouble before. The colors on the sunfish are also more vibrant than the shad. Removing the bottom treble is a must for me on this lure and as you see below, the ring is not visible.

(Above: Here’s a quick shot of the bait in action. It looks pretty cool and even catches fish. The yellow line you see under my hand is my anchor rope.)

First cast into the sweet spot and the line takes off. Barely had time to set the hook and to be honest, the fish pretty much set the hook on itself by clobbering the lure. That part was easy. The fish battle was far more difficult as the fish kept trying to wrap itself around my anchor rope. The first time I was able to steer the head back the other way. The second time I had to change directions of the rod and pull the fish back behind the rope from the direction it came. One more turn around this rope and my 6lb line turns to tinsel. Luckily the fish came back around and was into my hand. One look into the fish’s mouth and I knew he liked the Live Sunfish Swimbait.

(Above: Swimbait swallowing bucketmouth posing with the lure in its mouth.)

The problem with catching one fish right away is that it could trick an angler into thinking that they were on a hot pattern when in fact they just got into one dumb fish. Sometimes this may having nothing to do with the lure so much as the presentation. After a few long moments of no bites in a hot area, I decided to switch things up in regards to the retrieve speed. Instead of a “Swim-drop” retrieve I opted for more of a slow roll. Sometimes slowing things down will make a difference so I typically drop the pace a bit before digging into the tackle box for something else. The last fish seemed to take the swimbait close to the bottom of the water, which helped provide some possible clues to where the fish were holding up.

(Above: Simple illustration of the “swim-drop” presentation. The intent is to cover as much of the water spectrum as possible. Typically I start with this and adjust the speed down if needed.)

(Above: Simple illustration of the slow roll presentation. You can see that I am right on the bottom and the lift is minimal. I have to admit that the graphics department did a poor job on this illustration series. They work for beer and it is clear that I need to stop paying them in advance for these projects.)

Slow roll was the ticket. Maybe the hot weather was keeping the fish closer to the bottom. Maybe the poor water visibility made the fish feel more comfortable identifying with the bottom structure rather than suspending in the murky water. I ponder this question for a few moments in a Zen like state until my hands feel another heavy thump on the delicious swimbait.

(Above: Another deep take on the swimbait. I dare say that this would be a real #$%^& to get out with that bottom treble. )

Then I get to this cove that is guarded by a few fallen trees. Some of these are large cottonwood trees that serve as barricades of sorts on sections of this cove. The fish can swim under the logs but retrieving your lure is a bit difficult and landing fish can be heartbreaking at times. So many anglers have lost fish here the cove has earned the title; “Lessons Learned”. I am a little over 50\50 in this cove and have landed some beauties. Fearing not the heartbreak and humiliation I give the swimbait a held-breath cast into the heavy junk.

Wham! The line trembles and a heavy thump rolls down to my fingers. I am not sure whether to be happy or not at this point as losing this fish could taint this otherwise spectacular fall fishing day. In fact I am a bit upset with myself for casting in here at all. (Realize that I say this every time)

First the fish tries to go under what used to be a small wood dock. Lift the rod an inch or two, turn the angle of direction and cup the drag (top of the reel). The fish turns and comes straight at me.

“He’s going under the log.” I say turning the reel handle like a madman to pull in the slack.

Another rod lift and cup of the drag. This lifts the fish up just enough to bump his nose on the log instead of it going completely under. Quickly the fish turns and heads for the back of the cove. The reel starts to sing as line goes out.

“Oh no you don’t.” I say not realizing that the fish can’t hear me.

Turn the fish one more time and bring it back to the log barricade. The fish runs along the side for two inches and then leaps into the air. I pull the fish towards me and the fish looks as if it was literally dancing across the top of the log.

Sploosh! It lands into the water on my side of the log and the battle continues for a few moments more. At least on this side I have room to operate the drag and let the fish run a bit without stretching the line or worrying about trouble in every direction. Soon the fish is landed and as I grab the fish by the lip, the lure drops out of its mouth. It was one of those moments that I really wish had been captured on film. Too lucky.

(Above: Another swimbait bucket too eager to spit the bait before the photo op. You can see one of th sugmerged logs in the background. The little lip piercing there will heal in 2-3 days.)

“Have you ever had to dance a bass over a log in the mid-day light?” My lips mutter recalling the recent events and Jack Nicholson dialogue from the old Batman movie for some strange reason. “Oh man…the heat must be getting to me. I’m outa here.”

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.


Wolfy said...

nice pattern, nice fish

Bill Trussell said...

Great Post---I was with you on this trip from your first sentence to the last on this post. I too love those swim baits in the fall. Have you tried the fluke and the buzz bait for some awesome hits in the fall? Looking at your pics of the bass, tells me that they wanted to kill that swim bait. Just shows how much they want to fatten up for the winter month. Thanks for sharing.

Bigerrfish said...

looks so real how could they say no to a life like rubber fish.

Coloradocasters said...

Glad to see, Wolfy! Thanks for stopping by.

@Bill: I find the bass fluke to work great this time of year at a few ponds where the bass have hammered everything else into submission. The buzzbait is something I used to throw every morning if the water was flat. Love the topwater strikes. For some reason I have gotten away from the buzzbaits…that’s a shame actually.

What I found amazing was that these fish definitely preferred the sunfish pattern over the shad. This confounds me a bit as I considered shad to be on the top of the bass menu. This leads me to believe that the Storm shad bait still has a few flaws and the visual detail on the sunfish pattern is superior.

Cofisher said...

Bass in Colorado? Who'd a thunk it. Great site with really good information. Thanks Matt.

Travis Erwin said...

I really need to go fishing. Then again deers season starts soon.