Sight fishing alternatives
Sight fishing alternatives
By Louie Stout
The Elite Series event on the St. Johns River was a full-blown sight fishing tournament, but some anglers proved you don't have to be "looking at them" to catch fish and cash a check in a bed fishing event.
Why not join the sight fishing fest?
"I don't have much experience with it, so I'm not going to bet my career by trying to do it," shrugged Cliff Crochet, who was 20th overall in the tournament.
Fred Roumbanis, who was 27th, discovered his bedding fish were gone when competition began.
"I had to resort to something else," he said.
"I just hate sight fishing," admitted Jeff Kreit, who finished 30th.
Mark Davis, who was 39th, confessed that Father Time is catching up with him.
"I can't see them like I used to, so I fished for post-spawn males guarding fry," he shrugged "You won't catch bass much over three pounds doing that, but you can be competitive."
Some anglers lack the patience or mindset to sit on one fish for 20 minutes or longer trying to tempt it to bite.
"It really messes with your head," said Crochet.
Not all bass spawn simultaneously, so you don't have to go looking at bass on beds to be successful, the Elite pros said. Here's how they produced enough weight to win $10,000 each:
The Louisiana angler targeted isolated cover, noting that bass like holding close to something different in a shallow area.
"I found a tree lying in a patch of grass and caught four bass off it this week," he described. "I also found an isolated, 200-yard stretch of grass that was a good spot, too."
His strategy was to make long casts with "stupid" baits — frogs, swim jigs and spinnerbaits. Those lures either got the aggressive fish to bite or lesser aggressive fish would swirl on it. When the latter occurred, he'd flip a soft plastic bait in the spot to try to get them to bite.
"I knew I had to fish slow and work methodically through each area," he explained. "Those fish probably were on beds, too, but I wasn't looking at the ones I caught."
When the big females abandoned the nests he found, the Oklahoma pro moved to the heaviest grass bed close to deeper water.
"A lot of times the fish will move to the nearest heavy cover or mouth of a creek where they'll find some current mixed in with the cover," he explained.
His bait choices were a variety of frog baits (Snag Proof's Bobby's Perfect Frog and Reaction Innovations Trixie Shark) that he swam over the top of the grass.
"You can work those lures a little faster in the morning but need to slow down in the afternoon," he said.
Kriet keyed on structural changes outside spawning areas and fished for postspawners, too.
"I put on a Zoom Horny Toad and worked it fast around grass or pads," he said. "Bass that are guarding fry can't stand that."
He also Texas rigged a Big Bite Trick Stick (stickworm) and let it slither into the holes, especially after a fish missed his frog.
Davis said bass fry love shade, so he keyed on postspawn fish in shady areas with a Strike King Spittin' King, a topwater chugger.
Lily pads, dock posts or shady banks are good places to find them, he asserted.
"The males guarding fry are usually very aggressive, and you can catch them," Davis explained. "The fish I was catching spawned two weeks ago."
Member Alabigbee Bassmasters