John's Journal...

Rule-Breaking Ways to Catch Bass

Day 4: George Cochran and Randy Dearman Catch Bass

Editor’s Note: If bass always did what we expected them to do, we'd catch them every time we went bass fishing. Some of nation's best bass-fishing pros break the rules of bass fishing regularly to catch more bass. Let's look at some rule-breaking techniques that will bring more bass to your boat this year. George Cochran of Hot Springs, Arkansas, worked his way up from local bass tournaments to win the Bassmasters Classic twice and the FLW and was inducted in the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. Randy Dearman of Onalaska, Texas, has fished professionally since 1983 and has competed in Bassmaster Classics, as well as achieving numerous top-10 wins across the country.

Fish Shallow Water:

Click for Larger ViewCochran is known for his ability to locate and catch bass out of extremely-shallow water, year-round. "People know me primarily as a shallow-water fisherman," Cochran explains. "I use one lure that people read about but rarely see anymore. This lure – the Strike King Spence Scout – has helped me win some tournaments and catch bass when nobody else can. I like to fish this little, wooden, weedless crankbait with either a chartreuse skirt or a white skirt on the back through heavy cover. This bait has helped me finish in the top-10 numerous times and looks nothing like other bass lures. I like to fish the Spence Scout by throwing it back over cover and reeling it slowly – letting it crawl over logs. If you just reel this lure through the open water, like most people do, you probably won't get a bite. But if you'll throw it over the cover and pull it over the log, you'll catch bass. When you get as old as I am and fish as much as I do, you'll try everything and anything to catch a bass."

Slow Buzz for Bass:

Click for Larger ViewDuring one B.A.S.S. tournament, George Cochran held onto third place going into the last day. He fished in a location where he'd caught numbers of bass on a crankbait in the past, yet that day he couldn't catch a single fish. Although he saw bass breaking the top of the water, he couldn't decide how to catch them. He threw a few top-water lures, but the bass showed no interest in them. He then picked up a Strike King Bitsy Bug buzzbait and threw it out. “Generally, when you fish a buzzbait, you reel it so it makes little bubbles or noise across the surface," Cochran explains. "When I retrieved the buzzbait in this manner, the bass would swirl at it. So, I started throwing the same bait and reeling it under the water – not the way you usually fish a buzzbait. I fished it under the water, and I started catching big bass. I finished second in that tournament. Since then, I've fished in situations where I can't catch bass using normal methods. I'll take that little buzzbait, throw it out and reel it real slow. For some reason, most people don't use that tactic, but I've caught a lot of bass that way."

Break Through Grass:

"I once used an unusual technique in the clear, deep Bull Shoals Lake on the Missouri/Arkansas border," Randy Dearman says. "After a heavy rain, the water level rose about 10 feet. The creeks and little side pockets had what I call sawdust – that matted stuff that floats on top of the water and gets packed so tightly that you can't get a bait through it – in them. I tried to flip a jig through that stuff on the water, but my jig wouldn't sink through it. I didn't have any heavier jigs with me, so I put a 1-ounce weight on the line and then tied the 1/2-ounce jig onto it. I had the weight pegged against the eye, which enabled the bait to break through the mat. The film on the water was so thick that it almost looked like dry land. The bass had backed-up underneath the stuff, and I had to use baits heavier than 1 ounce to bust through it. By putting a 1-ounce weight above the jig, I could penetrate through the sawdust. Bass seemed to be holding under the thickest of the cover. I finally threw a 1-1/2-ounce actual weight to penetrate that stuff. If I'd thrown a lighter bait out onto the layer, the bait wouldn't have broken through it."

Use a Phony Wacky-Worm:

Click for Larger View"On Lake Murray in South Carolina some years ago, many of the guys caught bass on a wacky worm – a worm with no weight," Dearman recalls. "I found by taking a big tube and fishing it with no weight at all, that the tube would fall extremely slowly and sink like a wacky worm. But I could catch a better grade of bass on a Texas-rigged tube by fishing it just like a wacky worm then the wacky worm caught. Instead of hooking the tube in the middle, like I would hook a worm, I fished the tube with no weight. I let it fall real slowly by the corners of the boat docks where the bass held on the ends of those docks. Most of the other guys threw wacky worms, but I caught more bass than on a tube the other anglers did. When bass hold around boat docks, people can use the tube to upgrade the size of bass they catch."

Fish with a Fork:

One summer, while fishing on the flats in the grass at Toledo Bend, Randy Dearman caught most of his bass on an old Timber King spoon with a piece of white fork on the back of it. "When I'd drag this lure along the grass, the bass would blow-up on it," Dearman reports. "Then I lost my spoon and didn't have any more of them. So, I took a piece of the fork and put it on a hook by itself. I ended up just pulling the fork across the grass. The lighter fork wouldn't sink, and I caught five bass on it. My partner and I won the tournament with 28 pounds of bass – all five of them caught on the fork. Professional anglers come-up with many new ideas and techniques, due to their need to improvise. The baits we think-up often work better than the baits many anglers fish. I've used only a fork to catch bass a number of times, instead of pulling the spoon across the water. Sometimes, I'll just put a fork on a hook and drag it through the thick cover – although that idea breaks some bass-fishing rules."

Tag Team Your Lures:

"In New York one year, I caught bass in heavy duckweed on a Strike King frog," Dearman says. "The bass kept missing my bait. The green, fine duckweed nearly floated on top of the water. I'd pull the frog through the weeds. However, if the bass blew up on the frog but missed it, there'd be a hole left in the weeds. If the other fisherman could make a cast and get the frog to that hole quickly, he could catch the bass as it struck again. So, I fished with two frogs on the line, tying one frog on with a piece of braided line and the other frog about a foot behind it to look like a train. When the bass blew up on the first frog, the hole in the grass that the bass had made allowed the bass to see the second frog. I'd slide the second frog into that hole and catch the bass probably 90 percent of the time."

Carolina Weird Rig:

Click for Larger View"Sometimes I use a 1-ounce jig instead of a weight up front when fishing a Carolina rig," Dearman explains. "Often when you get a fish on your hook, you may catch it on the jig. Many times, if the area holds plenty of bass, when you hook the bass and reel it in, the other bass will come up and try to get the bait from it. Those bass will see the other bait, and you can catch two at a time."

How to Bass Fish Like a ProTo learn even-more bass-catching strategies, order John E. Phillips’ new eBook, “How to Bass Fish Like a Pro,” click here. Or, you can go to and type-in the name of the book to find it. You also can download a Kindle app for free to allow you to read the book on your iPad, SmartPhone and computer.

Tomorrow: Top Fishermen Shaw Grigsby, Larry Nixon, Mike Wurm and Rick Clunn on Unusual Bass Tactics


Check back each day this week for more about "Rule-Breaking Ways to Catch Bass "

Day 1: “Kevin VanDam Tells 5 Unique Ways to Catch Bass”
Day 2: Learn some of Mark Rose’s Tactics for Catching Bass
Day 3: The Brauer Family – Denny and Chad – Sometimes Fish Kids’ Baits for Bass
Day 4: George Cochran and Randy Dearman Catch Bass
Day 5: Top Fishermen Shaw Grigsby, Larry Nixon, Mike Wurm and Rick Clunn on Unusual Bass Tactics

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Entry 664, Day 4