Baby Steps: Downsizing for success
Throughout the summer months bass see a wide variety of baits, but they mostly consist of super-sized worms. Anglers also hear the throw something different at 'em method that brings the gnarly creature bait to the dinner table. Instead of throwing something different, throw something traditional with an added twistﾭﾗa baby Carolina rig.
September is a transition month where bass are found deeper, hoping to escape the heat that the long summer has dealt. But it is also when I have the most success with the baby Carolina rig. I use it
mostly in the western part of the United States, but it will work anywhere the bass are deep and sick of seeing the monster baits of summer.
What I look for when I decide to throw the pint-sized rig is deeper humps where bass are looking for an easy meal. Electronics help when scouring the open waters, but a keen eye will help greatly. Baitfish, like any underwater prey, move to the surface only to be ambushed from the air. That's right, I look for water-crashing birds to locate my fish. This is perfect for guys who don't have electronics or who lack the experience of reading today's sophisticated electronics.
A general knowledge of reading electronics will be important because you'll want to cruise the general location where you spotted the feeding frenzy. You are looking for open water humps that lie in 28 to 34 feet of water. These humps are perfect ambush spots for bass. Bass will position themselves on the edges of the humps just before it drops off to deeper water.
Positioning the boat in about 45 feet of water, make long casts to the edge of the hump. Dragging the rig from this edge over the hump will give you plenty of opportunity to set the hook on monster bass. The rig is pretty simple; just think of a basic Carolina rig but scaled down a bit. First, and very important, is line and bait choice.
A clear presentation is necessary when trying to get close to bass weary with exhaustion from the big bait hoopla. I like to throw 12-pound Berkley ® Trilene ® 100% Fluorocarbon with a 10-pound 100%
Fluorocarbon leader. Keep the leader at about 8 to 12 inches in length. The fluorocarbon shines with a nearly invisible subtlety and is tough enough to handle around the humps.
I use a 4-inch PowerBait ® Power ® Worm, typically in motor oil red fleck color with a chartreuse dipped tail. Tied with a Palomar knot, I use a 3/0 wide gap hook paired with a 1/4-ounce bullet weight. I will include a bead to protect the knot.
Long, accurate casts are crucial to this technique. You need to throw to the back edge of the hump and begin to drag the baby Carolina over the hump, directly to bass that are eagerly awaiting their next meal. The Carolina rig is one of the easiest techniques to execute. After making your cast, reel in the slack and begin to drag the bait from the forward position to a three o'clock position.
The rest of the rig will play a vital role with this slim version of the original Carolina rig. Because we have already addressed which line would suit our needs, the reel I use is the Abu Garcia ® Revo ® STX. With its durability and its incredible accuracy made for long casts, the STX is perfect for this application. I complete the set up with a 7-foot, 6-inch medium to medium-heavy rod.
I can't say enough about the benefits of downsizing traditional rigs to cash in on some big bites. Using this method was key to my success in the U.S. Opens and anytime I want to throw something different at fish that are settling into a fall pattern. The only thing to do is downsize to a baby Carolina rig and head to open waters for your next successful outing.