John's Journal...


Grassy-Lake Tactics

EDITOR’S NOTE: Todd Ary of Moody, Alabama, a professional bass fisherman, fishes all the FLW and Everstart tournaments. This week, Ary talks about what types of lakes he fishes and the tactics he uses to catch bass in the fall.

QUESTION: What other tactics do you use on grassy lakes at this time of year?

ARY: One secret that allows me to catch bass at this time of year is my logbook. I not only list the name of the lake, but the type of lake I’m fishing. This way, I can refer back to my logbook to see which type of lures I’ve used on certain types of lakes. I can also determine which baits have worked best.

On deep lakes with good river and creek channels, like the Tennessee River in north Alabama, you’ll find the grass flats are Click to enlargeclose to deep-water drop-offs. Therefore, if your grass pattern is not working to produce bass, look toward the main river or main creek channels. You’ll normally see large schools, about the size of a trash can lid, of tiny baitfish, usually 1/4- to 1-inch long. If your boat is positioned at the edge of the grass, you’ll see 20 or 30 trash-can-lid size schools. The larger shad in the lake will feed on the smaller baitfish. The larger shad will hold on the lip of the break, where the bottom drops off into the river channel or creek channel. These larger shad usually school around logs, stumps or brush piles to ambush the small schools of bait. The larger bass don’t normally feed on the smaller baitfish. However, they will feed on the bigger shad holding on the ledges.

To catch these bass, I use a Series 6 Strike King Crankbait in any of the shad colors, using a technique I call 45ing. I position my boat in a river or a creek channel and cast toward the lip of the break at a 45-degree angle. As I cast the Series 6 Crankbait, it will dive 12- to15-feet-deep, depending on the length of my rod, the size of my line and the speed of my retrieve. Most of the areas I fish on the Tennessee River are not any deeper than 12 feet. By the time my Series 6 Crankbait reaches the bottom and starts bouncing off cover, it’s coming over the lip of the ledge. So, I’m getting a reaction strike from many of the bass holding on that cover. They Click to enlargealso see the shad hit the cover and swim out to deep water while aggressively attacking and crashing the crankbait. To be effective I use a highly-abrasive resistant line, similar to the kind I use for flipping. To get the crankbait down deep, I use a small-diameter line that’s very strong like the new 10-pound-test Mossy Oak Fishing’s Buck Brush Line. The secret to this tactic is what you do with the bait when it hits the cover. For years, anglers have known that to trigger a strike, they need to stop the bait and let it sit still in the water or allow it float up like a dazed baitfish. I’m trying to spook the shad not holding on the cover. I try to get them to run in all directions, which in turn excites the bass and causes them to feed. I don’t stop my Series 6 Crankbait when it hits cover. I keep crashing it into everything. When the bait gets past the lip of the break, I reel it really fast. I seem to get more strikes this way than when I fish a crankbait like everyone else does. When you are continually crashing your lure and line into cover, your line will take a lot of abuse. This reason is why you have to have a strong abrasion-resistant line, or else you’re going to have to retie after almost every cast. Another secret to this technique is to fish the Series 6 Crankbait faster than you think you should. Most fishermen think that when their crankbaits hit bottom, they need to work them slowly along the bottom. Many of them have watched some of the other high-profile crankbait fishermen use that tactic while fishing deep-diving crankbaits in the hot summer months.

But, when the weather changes and the feeding pattern of the shad changes, you have to change your retrieve to better match what the shad are doing. When you hit the cover with the crankbait, you spook the shad, causing them to swim out to deep water. Therefore, if you’re not reeling the crankbait as fast as you can - faster than you think you should - the bass will eat the shad and not eat your crankbait. I call this technique ledge-busting.

Click to enlargeI’m using a 5:1 gear ratio reel that has about 23 inches of take-up power to every turn of the handle. I reel this crankbait about as fast as you will reel a buzzbait if you’re top-water fishing. When that crankbait starts crashing the cover, I keep my retrieve constant, without slowing down. This style of crankbait has a fairly-wide bill; when it hits the cover, the bait will bounce and give an erratic action. The more erratic bounces I can get the crankbait to produce, the more I’m going to spook shad, which attracts more bass. This tactic usually works best when there isn’t any current. When there’s no current, you can usually see those trash-can-lid size schools of baitfish. That’s your signal to move out to deep water, and try this ledge-busting Series 6 Crankbait tactic. My favorite color is Tennessee shad, but if the water gets muddy, I change to a chartreuse and blue color.

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Check back each day this week for more about FISHING WITH PROFESSIONAL BASS FISHERMAN TODD ARY

Day 1: Fishing Clear Lakes
Day 2: Highland Reservoirs
Day 3: More Clear-Water Tactics
Day 4: Fishing Aquatic Vegetation Lakes
Day 5: Grassy-Lake Tactics



Entry 323, Day 5