I pulled up in the truck, hopped out, and walked to a fence at the top of an embankment overlooking a small body of water that, in size, straddled the line between pond and lake.
When I reached the ledge I heard a splash. In the clear water I watched a blacktail skedaddle to deep water. To my right I saw another pair of blacktails hurried to cover. I’d been spotted.
Bass. Largemouth, and they were all over the shallows.
It was another long, cold winter, but we’re well into spring now. It’s the time of year when the thoughts of young bass turn to the future, or more specifically, producing the generations of the future. Spring means spawn for bass, and prespawn is usually the best time of year for bass fishing. The fish are accessible in the shallows and a little out of their heads, as we all are this time of year.
My scouting/spooking trip inspired me. Usually when I fish my target’s surname is trout, but those beating black tails convinced me it was time to mix things up.
Once that decision was made I had to ponder method. What I’m about to tell you might be considered shameful in some circles, but a few years back, in one of those crazed, decluttering frenzies I occasionally find myself in, I got rid of all of my remaining, non-fly fishing fishing equipment. It wasn’t much. Just a couple of dust-gathering spinning rod combos and an old bait caster I’d never really learned to used properly anyway, but I sold it all.
The lot earned me a few bucks at a yard sale. Hopefully, the new owners cleaned off the dust and put a bend in them.
My streamer rod was an option, an easy one actually as it’s still strung up from fall. Since I was mixing it up, however, I decided to go all in and do something totally bass, and that meant the worm.
I’ve fished bass using plastics before, though curly-tailed worms Texas rigged with a bullethead sinker pegged to the hook with a toothpick was the rage back then, in a previous century.
I choose a more contemporary method of attack on those bass I spooked out on the flats: the drop shot.
Bass fishing with plastic baits is a much more subtle game than it was back in the big-hair days of the 1980s. The Senko worm is possibly the hottest plastic bait these days and it’s just a straight, cigar-shaped lure, with not a single corkscrew like adornment in sight. The movement on this modern bait is slight. Maybe a couple generations of bass — put off watching clanging, vortex-generating curly-tailed worms — left more refined, discriminating offspring in their wake.
The hook is attached to the leader in the drop shot rig via a Palomar knot a foot or two above the weight which trails below at the tag end. As you gently tease the bait on retrieve this set up allows your worm to bounce along, just above the bottom, quivering rather than churning.
Drop shooting isn’t fly fishing, but it’s not totally unlike the contemporary European nymphing techniques that utilize a heavier, weighted nymph at the end of a string of flies. You’ve got to watch your line on the drop, and while it isn’t exactly mending, line control on the slow, deliberate retrieve is essential. You tug, then reel in the slack while the bait settles. And if the line starts moving sideways on the drop, crank up the slack and swing.
When it work’s it’s a hoot. Bass may not be trout, but when hooked they are feisty and prone to pleasing aerial behavior.
And once I get my drop shot game down, the streamer rod awaits.
Rob Breeding is the editor of www.mthookandbullet.com.