John's Journal...

Rule-Breaking Ways to Catch Bass

Day 5: Top Fishermen Shaw Grigsby, Larry Nixon, Mike Wurm and Rick Clunn on Unusual Bass Tactics

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.

Garden for Big-Bass Dividends with Shaw Grigsby:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewShaw Grigsby, a tournament bass fisherman for three decades, from Gainesville, Florida, is a TV personality and has fished Bassmaster Classics and FLW events, to become another $1-million-plus winner.

"While fishing at New York’s Lake Placid, that lake had a lot of milfoil and vegetation," Grigsby says. "Everybody went around flipping and pitching in this thick vegetation, fishing the points. However, during practice, I found some fish using a Zulu. When they put that area off-limits, I had to back-up and look for fish in the same general region. I started catching bass in grass beds, but, in the tournament, I couldn't find the edges of the grass beds. So, I made an offshore cast and caught about a 2-pound bass. I realized that these fish didn't necessarily hold in the grass bed and might just migrate into that bed. I started to fish offshore, located a big wad of bass and caught a large stringer of these offshore bass while other anglers fished in the grass. So, by fishing deep and doing something different than the other anglers, I won the tournament."

Don't Forget Subtle Bass:

Larry Nixon, of Bee Branch, Arkansas, a Bassmaster Classic and Angler-of-the-year title winner, began guiding fishermen before he was in high school and joined the professional bass fishermen’s ranks more than 30-years ago. "I approach all tournaments by looking for the available fish," Nixon explains. "And in most tournaments, you'll find that certain patterns, baits and cover work for a while, but they probably won't produce for the entire 3 days of a tournament or even throughout one day. I try to eliminate them and start hunting for places a more subtle, more offshore and not quite so exposed to all the boats. I found a honey hole in a fall tournament on Lake Eufaula, Alabama, years ago when I first started fishing on the B.A.S.S. circuit. The fishing had gotten really tough, but I pinpointed an area about halfway down the lake with 8- and 9-foot-deep bars with some small indentations – so small you could miss them easily. The small cuts in these bars had stumps ganged-up in the backs of them. I finished second in that tournament by keeping on looking, until I found bass no one else had located. I always give-up on the easy fish. If I have the option of fishing for confined bass holding on offshore structure, I'll always go there, since I like to fish structure. I love fishing away from the bank and using electronics, because I think this tactic gives me an edge over my competitors."

Catch Bass Your Buddies Don't:

Click for Larger ViewMike Wurm of Hot Springs, Arkansas, a professional bass fisherman for more than two decades and with career earnings of over $1 million, says “When we have a tournament on the Pascagoula River in Mississippi, I know I'll have a tough tournament. The bass don't want to bite. The river has a lot of structure, which should produce bass but doesn't. This river makes it difficult for many anglers, including myself, to catch fish. Once when I fished there, I flipped a tube and caught one or two bass on a spinner bait. But I really struggled to catch any fish. As I motored down a creek, I noticed standing trees in the water on the edge of the creek channel. All the other contestants had been flipping tubes and casting spinner baits – just like me. I realized that any time I fished behind another contestant and presented the same lures they'd presented to the bass in the same way they'd presented the lures then I wasn't going to catch many bass. I kept thinking to myself, 'I need a lure I can cast to match this situation – something everyone else doesn't fish.' Finally, I said to myself, 'Mike, the Strike King Series 3 crankbait has won more money for you than any-other lure you ever have fished. This lure is the perfect size, runs the right depth and has the right wobble for this lake.'" Wurm picked-up the Series 3 crankbait, cast it around the cypress trees, swam the lure around the tree stumps and bounced it off a few cypress knees. Just about the time the Series 3 would dive-off the edge of a channel, the bass, according to Wurm, "Would annihilate it. At a time when most people would flip and pitch spinner baits and jigs, the crankbait gave the bass a completely-different type of lure to watch."

To consistently catch bass, decide the obvious pattern and the obvious bait for fishing that pattern, and then do something completely different. When you break rules of bass fishing, you'll use various lures when you're not supposed to, you'll fish water that most other anglers won't fish, and you'll use tactics that break all the rules to catch more bass.

Use Buzzbaits in the Wintertime:

Click for Larger ViewRick Clunn of Ava, Missouri, has been a professional bass fisherman for almost 40 years, has won four Bassmaster Classics and is considered one of the best anglers of all time with career earnings of over $2 million.

"On the first warming days that we have on any lake in February, I'll start fishing buzzbaits," Clunn mentions. "Usually the buzzbait produces the most bass in the spring and summer when bass feed on top." No one in his right mind ever fishes buzzbaits in the dead of winter – no one except four-time Classic champion Clunn. "I know that the bass haven't seen this lure in 3 to 6 months," Clunn explains. "Therefore, it affects the bass like a new lure does. I know that no one else fishes with this lure in the winter. Anglers often forget on those warming days in the middle of the winter, bass will look-up to see and attack baitfish. In extremely-deep, clear lakes, I've pulled bass up from deep water to the surface with a buzzbait in February. I believe that any time you use baits and techniques that bass don't often see, you increase your chances for catching bass. I like using the buzzbait in the wintertime in the right weather and water conditions.”

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.


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

ALL CONTENT PROTECTED UNDER THE DIGITAL MILLENIUM COPYRIGHT ACT. Content theft, either printed or electronic is a federal offense.


Entry 664, Day 5