John's Journal...

Summertime Bass Fishing with George Cochran

Head for the Top

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: George Cochran of Hot Springs, Arkansas, won the FLW Championship in 2005. In August, 2006, the FLW Championship will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, on Logan Martin Lake. Cochran should feel like Brer Rabbit being thrown in the briar patch because if there’s ever been a tournament where Cochran’s the odds-on-favorite, it will be this year’s FLW Championship. When the Bassmasters Classic was held on the same lake, Cochran finished 9th, and he also won the Bassmasters Classic held on nearby Lay Lake in August, 1996, under extremely-hot weather conditions. The city of Birmingham has been good to Cochran’s reputation and his bank account just about every time he’s fished there. We asked Cochran how he plans to fish the Dog Days of August during the FLW Championship when the surface temperatures will reach over 100 degrees.

Question: When you won the Bassmasters Classic in 1996 in Birmingham, Alabama, what did it mean to you?
Cochran: I’ll never forget that tournament. Competition was really close, and it was the kind of tournament that you always dream of as a little boy. I had to come from behind to win.

Question: How familiar are you with Logan Martin where this year’s tournament will be held?Click to enlarge
Cochran: I’ve fished two tournaments on that lake and had several weeks of pre-fishing there, so I have a lot of confidence. Logan Martin Lake isn’t a lake that I’ll spend too much time pre-fishing. I’ll probably fish there for 3 or 4 days before the tournament. If I’d never fished the lake before, I’d probably plan to spend two or three weeks there. But I already have plenty of good ideas on how I’ll fish, which techniques I’ll use, and how to best catch bass because I’ve spent plenty of time on the lake.

Question: August is the most-miserable time of the year to try to catch bass for most people in the Dog Days of summer with high skies, high temperatures, plenty of sun and few clouds. What will be the secret to catching bass in that tournament, or for that matter, anywhere in the country under these conditions?
Cochran: Although most anglers call this time in August the Dog Days of summer, I won’t be fishing during the Dog Days of summer. For me, there’s no such thing as a Dog Day. Each day I break up a different part of the day and try to fish strategically for that particular time of day under those conditions.

Question: Okay, George, so the gun goes off, and you race down to the lake where you’ll be fishing. What are you going to do, and how will you try to catch bass?Click to enlarge
Cochran: The first 2 hours of daylight are critical to anchoring your stringer. I’ll be looking for a top-water bite because if I get in the right area and get to fish that top-water bite early, I should be able to catch three or four nice bass.

Question: What bait will you use?
Cochran: I won the FLW Championship in 2005 on a top-water bait. So, naturally I’ll be throwing the Strike King Spit-N-King because I believe it’s one of the best lures made for hot-summertime early-morning bass fishing. When you work it right, the Spit-N-King looks like a minnow, a shad or some other type of baitfish trying to escape larger predator fish.

Question: What color do you like?
Cochran: I like the shad color Spit-N-King for fishing late summer.

Question: How are you working the bait, and why do you catch so many bass on it?
Cochran: The real key to catching bass on that Spit-N-King is knowing where to fish it.

Question: Around what kinds of places will you be fishing the Spit-N-King this year?Click to enlarge
Cochran: I’m looking for areas where the bass have moved up out of deep water during the night to feed in shallow water. Right at daylight, the bass will have shad rounded-up and hemmed-up in little bitty pockets or on points. So, if you’re on the right point or you’ve found a pocket where the bass have rounded shad up during the night, then that first hour of daylight, you often can catch a lot of bass on the Spit-N-King.

Question: How do you fish the Spit-N-King?
Cochran: The instant the bait touches the water, I start moving it fairly fast toward the boat and across the top of the water.

Question: How fast are you moving the bait?
Cochran: I let the bass tell me how fast they want the bait. Some mornings, they like the bait to really chug and make a heavy spit, and then on other mornings, they prefer for the bait to start out slow and then speed it up the further you come with your retrieve. On other mornings, the bass like you to speed the bait up and then slow it down like some fish are chasing it. Another tactic I use, especially on windy days, is to retrieve the Spit-N-King really fast until I get it right beside a stump or right at the spot on the point where I expect the bass to strike. Then, I let the bait sit still for about 5 seconds before starting to retrieve it really fast again. Usually, the bass will take the bait after it’s been sitting dead still in the water for about 5 seconds.

Question: On what pound-test-line will you be fishing the Spit-N-King?
Cochran: The color of the water determines the size line that I use. For the FLW Championship in August, I’ll probably be fishing 12-pound-test line.

Tomorrow: Top-Water Bites Are Over, Now What?

Check back each day this week for more about " Summertime Bass Fishing with George Cochran"

Day 1: Head for the Top
Day 2: Top-Water Bites Are Over, Now What?
Day 3: Phase Three – Deep Dock Tactics
Day 4: Slow It Down to Win
Day 5: How to Fish the Magic Hour


Entry 361, Day 1