RIGHT NOW: Rising Water
We have another change of season upon us as the hot and humid summer months prepare to take over. The largemouth spawn is over and those easy early spring bigguns are getting harder to catch. In a large part of the country heavy or constant rain has filled our fisheries to very high levels, opening up new foraging opportunities for bass. That’s definitely the case here in the midwest, and as high, murky water creates it’s own challenges, these baits are getting it done. In no particular order, these are my top 5 baits of RIGHT NOW:
As water rises, new forage becomes available to bass and they don’t waste any time taking advantage of it. You’ll find them so close to the bank it will surprise you. Frogs are great go-to’s in this situation. Casting a frog onto the bank (if possible) and dragging it into the water can create some huge blow ups! The weedless nature of the frog enables it to slide through the brush where, and gets your bait way up in that shallow, obstacle filled water where other baits simply can’t be fished. I trim the silicone legs, and like to bend the hooks out ever so slightly, a little tip I picked up from the knowledgeable guys over at Tactical Bassin. For a looser movement or a walking type action use a loop knot, however in heavy cover I prefer a palomar knot with straight braid. It avoids hangups this way and doesn’t collect as much top water scum. Remember to delay your hookset after the blowup, giving the bass time to position the frog in it’s mouth. A stiff rod, no shorter than 7 foot is ideal. Driving the heavy gauge double hook into the fish is very difficult without it.
Texas Rigged Creature
Another weedless presentation that can not only get shallow when needed, but can also get UNDER and THROUGH the brush you’ll need to clear to actually reach the fish. If there’s one thing to understand about this rising water, it’s that the fish are further up than you think. If you’re fishing the edges of flooded brush only, you’ll be missing a lot of fish. I’ve spent days throwing this rig under bushes and trees I can barely get the bait under because the fish are so far up in the thick of things. My favorite creature bait here is a Missile Baits “D Bomb” in a dark blue/black. Rigged with a straight shank hook, this setup slides through just about anything without getting hung up. The ridges along the body of the bait do a great job of keeping the hook point out of the way of brush while also keeping it fully through the body for quick, effective hook sets. I use a heavy 5/8 oz bullet weight to get it through most cover, but you will need more than that to punch it through any mossy mats that have gathered at the water’s edge.
Neko Rigged Senko
This is the one set-up that is probably going to be on my top 5 presentations of “RIGHT NOW” at all times. It’s simple, and it works. You can fish this shallow, deep, fast, slow, etc. In the high waters we have right now I prefer to use this over rocks and flooded rip-rap. Not all the bass have moved into the vegetation, and there are plenty of new opportunities for food in flooded rock. Water clarity is a factor with this presentation as too murky of water can limit it’s effectiveness. I find that if I have even 5-6 inches of visibility in flooded areas I can use this rig reliably. I like a straight shank neko hook without a weed guard, and I skip the o-ring. I feel like I lose as many worms with the ring as without and have had issues with hook up ratio’s while using it. Plastics are cheap, especially the YUM “Dingers” I prefer to use. You can use Yamamoto’s but it’s not necessary. When fished weightless the Yamamoto has an action that can’t be beat, but I find that weighting the head end takes the advantage of that worm away. As far as weights, I use construction screws, usually decking specific. The coating used on the screw head and the slightly rounded shape allow it to slide through rocks easier. Instead of buying 5 nail weights for $3, I can get 200 of the screws for $6. 5 nail weights can’t even last me a day. Experiment with different weights and shapes until you find what you like.
Another one of my favorite baits. It’s simple, effective, and can be fished in a variety of ways. Rising or high water usually means low visibility. The sound and vibration of this lure make it easier for the fish to find in these conditions. The chatterbait can be fished along flooded rocks and flats with ease. It’s single hook is guarded by the nose blade and comes through cover nicely. Drag it, pop it off the bottom, or even a steady retrieve will yield fish. Base your color combinations on the local forage for best results
This can be highly effective presentation at times, but a little more difficult to fish in flooded cover with the exposed trebles. I will reach for this when I know the fish are there, but aren’t taking my other offerings. I can work this bait with a lot of action while keeping it in one small location. When I reach for this, I’m basically trying to anger the fish into attacking. I mean, I’m already angry at this point. They wouldn’t take my other offers! It’s their turn to be mad. Pitch it in holes, under limbs, over rocks. Don’t be afraid to make MULTIPLE casts to the same area. Remember, we know the fish are there and we are trying to make them mad! I like most popper style baits like the Storm Arashi Cover Pop or walking stick bait like a Heddon Spook. Colors are simple, usually black or white, occasionally yellow.
Throughout rising waters in the midwest and the Ozarks, these are the 5 baits that are working great for me, RIGHT NOW, and I think they’ll work great for you too.
*I am not affiliated with any companies mentioned in this article. The baits I have mentioned by name are ones that I am most familiar with and have confidence in using on a regular basis.