CHAD BRAUER - COMING OF AGE
Why and How to Fish a Slack line with the Wild Shiner
Note: Years of patience and perseverance have paid off for Chad Brauer
this year. At the halfway point of 2004, Brauer leads the race for Angler
of the Year and took third place at the Lake Guntersville BASS tournament
at the end of February, 2004. With Brauer having the chance of winning
this prestigious award, Strike King wanted to learn from Brauer how he's
doing so well and how the tactics and techniques he's using can help your
QUESTION: You fish the Wild Shiner on a slack line, with
the bait sitting still in the water. So, how do you know when the fish
takes the bait and when and how to set the hook?
BRAUER: When you twitch the rod, you will have 3 to 6 inches of slack
line when you allow the bait to sit still in the water. When the bass
comes up to take the jerkbait, the fish will usually take the slack out
of your line when it attacks the lure. You can just twitch the bait a
couple of times after the strike, and the bass that doesn't get the lure
on the initial strike will usually circle around and attack the bait again.
When I feel the bass' weight on the line, instead of using a hard jerking
hook set, I prefer to use a slow sweeping action to try to sweep the hook
into the bass' mouth. Most of the time, the bass will actually set the
hooks themselves. Once I get the hook set, I immediately start backing
off on my drag. In cold water, bass will generally make one or two big
runs, and you don't want to try to stop the bass' run, because if you
do, more than likely you're going to pull the hooks out of the fish's
mouth. Instead, back off the drag, and just keep enough pressure on the
line to keep the hooks in place. After those one or two big runs, you
can usually reel the bass in without too much trouble.
How many docks were you fishing at Guntersville when you were using this
BRAUER: I had two areas on which I was really concentrating. They were
both big marinas, and I spent about two hours in each of these two areas.
The rest of the day, I had several individual docks that met the same
criteria as the marinas -- a bottom at 10- to 20-feet deep. I had one
pier that I averaged catching two bass from each day. The first day I
caught a bass that weighed almost 7 pounds off this dock, and I took another
good keeper off the same dock. The second day, I went back to this dock
again, and I caught two bass that weighed 5-1/2-pounds each. The third
day I went back to the dock, I caught a 4 pounder and another keeper bass.
During the winter, bass are often bunched-up. You may not get all the
bass in that school to bite on the same day, but if you know where you
caught one good bass, more than likely, there will be several other bass
around that same area. A good dock may produce a couple of bass early.
Then leave that dock for two or three hours. Come back, and catch a couple
more. Then hit the dock again just before you go in, and you may catch
one or two more bass. At the very least, if you're fishing a three-day
tournament, you should be able to hit that dock every day and catch one
or two bass off of it.
How long will this Wild Shiner dock pattern last?
BRAUER: I'll usually fish this pattern until the water temperature gets
up to about 50 degrees. Generally when the water temperature gets above
the 50 degrees, I believe the bass have abandoned this pattern, and you
can find better ways to catch them. That's when I'll start fishing the
Denny Brauer Jig with the new Denny Brauer trailer from Strike King.
QUESTION: Chad, you're in the lead for Angler of the
Year now. Do you think you can hold that lead?
Anyone who is in the top 10 for Angler of the Year thinks they have a
chance to win right now. However, I realize that BASS doesn't give any
points or money for leading the Angler of the Year race halfway through
the tournament season. I still have to continue to catch bass in the rest
of the tournaments this year if I'm going to have a chance to win. The
Angler of the Year is a full-season competition. In my opinion, the Angler
of the Year is the top prize in all of bass fishing. I believe that among
the tournament fishermen, winning Angler of the Year is held in higher
esteem than winning the Bassmasters Classic. I believe that Angler of
the Year is the toughest prize of all the wins, and I'm really happy to
be leading in this race at the halfway mark. But my job isn't completed.
I still have to go out and catch bass -- lots of bass -- in at least the
next three tournaments. I'm having one of the best years of my fishing
career and have made a check in nine of my last 11 tournaments. I'm not
concerned about losing my focus. I know my dad, Denny Brauer, will help
me out on that. He knows how important winning Angler of the Year on the
BASS Circuit is. He won it back in 1987. I'm sure he's going to give me
a great deal of advice.