Angler Education

Lighten Up: Get the Big Bite

No matter what part of the country I am fishing, the boating traffic and fishing pressure skyrockets in May. This isn't the time of year to fish these impoundments with the heavy gear. It is time to lighten up if you want to cash in on a big bite.

Subsequently, lightening the gear that you are using means taking your time and paying close attention to detail. Developing a pattern takes time and effort to dissect high-pressure areas, but once an angler is dialed in there are plenty of fish to be caught.

The targeted areas that I focus on are grass edges, docks, laydowns and secondary rocky points that are 10 feet and shallower. These areas hold quality fish that have been presented with every type of
jumbo worm, lizard and tube on the market. The last thing they want to see is another gargantuan worm crawling through their bedroom. Going smaller and fishing slower offers these gun-shy fish an
alternative to an overused tactic.

The majority of anglers blind cast around structure to get a few reactionary strikes. But I prefer to go out and systematically pick apart each piece of cover and all the structure I find. This is when I decipher the pattern on a particular piece of water.

First, I make sure to work the entire area. Once you have boated a few keepers, start linking each fish you have caught to develop a pattern. Begin keeping a mental log detailing each catch; did they come from the windblown side of a laydown, did it come in 7 feet of water, did I retrieve the Berkley ® PowerBait ® Power ® Shaky Worm the same each time, and was it caught off a shade line? All these questions play a vital role in developing a successful pattern.

I start my mornings by throwing some topwater baits. Shad spawn in the early mornings, but when the sun comes up I switch to the lightweight gear. Rigged on a 3/16-ounce shaky head jig, the Berkley
PowerBait 5-inch Power Shaky Worm in Green Pumpkin is the way to go. The Shaky Worm has a great action when I am dragging it across the bottom. Plus, it is laced with the PowerBait scent that fish
bite and won't let go.

When I pull up on a secondary point that is laden with a rock base, I want to position my boat so I am casting toward the bank and fishing the length of the point. This keeps the bait in the strike zone longer. I will do the same whether I am casting around a laydown or under docks. Grass edges offer the perfect place for bass to ambush baitfish while regaining their strength from a busy spawning season. Make sure to position your boat so you are casting down the edge of the grass. This presentation is killer when bass are eagerly waiting for baitfish to ambush.

For these slower presentations in high-pressure areas, I use a 6-foot, 6-inch medium-fast rod and an Abu Garcia® Soron® spinning reel. This reel has a 5.1:1 retrieve ratio, which is excellent for handling fluorocarbon line. I fish that Power Shaky Worm like I do any other jig: cast it past your target and let it fall to the bottom. If nothing gets it on the way down, I will pick it up and shake it a little and let it freefall back to the bottom; pick it up and move it a little and repeat the process. Usually by then I've covered the area where I think that a bass is going to be and I will reel it in and fire it out toward another bed.

Line selection is key when fishing these high-pressured waters. Berkley Trilene ® 100% Fluorocarbon in 8-pound test is ideal for this application. Being abrasion resistant and having no line memory really pay off when working a Shaky Worm down a grass edge or pulling it down a rocky point.

Wherever you fish in May, fishing pressure is up and lake traffic is escalating, making this the perfect time to fish slower and lighter. Instead of pulling out the big guns, pick up the light tackle and develop a pattern to get more bites.