Load Your Livewell
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Did that most recent cold front throw you a curve ball? Did the bite you were on suddenly disappear? There is always a solution to every problem, here’s one that has saved my day on many occasions.

After severe cold fronts big bass almost always seek out the darkest shadows they can find. I mean under the really thick stuff. It may be matted hydrilla, water willow, or even a bunch of “sawdust” that has piled up in the back of a pocket. These are places that are impenetrable for most lures, so I get out my punch box.

My punch box is a special tackle kit I carry that has nothing in it except 1 and 1.5 oz TG Tungsten weights, and some big 5/0 TX3 hooks. These monster weights will penetrate into even the thickest areas of cover, places where most bass never see a lure. Use the 1 oz whenever possible, but under extreme conditions you may need to go to the 1.5.

This is a big fish technique and calls for the heaviest stick you’ve got. A 7 foot heavy action flippin’ stick will work perfect. Spool up with some 50# test braid and your ready to go to work. You’ll need to peg the sinker with either a toothpick or a “peg-it” so that it will not slide up the line.

Next, rig up a YUM Wooly Bug and flip or pitch the bait into the matted cover. Sometimes the bait will stop on top of the mat and you will have to jiggle it a few times to get it to punch through. Once the bait falls through jig it slowly up and down for 10 or 15 seconds. If you don’t get a bite pitch it to another spot. I often find the bass “schooled up” under these mats and it’s not uncommon to catch a limit out from under 1 small mat. You may need to fish 100 mats before you find the magic spot, but when you do, it will definitely be worth it!

Did that most recent cold front throw you a curve ball? Did the bite you were on suddenly disappear? There is always a solution to every problem, here’s one that has saved my day on many occasions.

After severe cold fronts big bass almost always seek out the darkest shadows they can find. I mean under the really thick stuff. It may be matted hydrilla, water willow, or even a bunch of “sawdust” that has piled up in the back of a pocket. These are places that are impenetrable for most lures, so I get out my punch box.

My punch box is a special tackle kit I carry that has nothing in it except 1 and 1.5 oz TG Tungsten weights, and some big 5/0 TX3 hooks. These monster weights will penetrate into even the thickest areas of cover, places where most bass never see a lure. Use the 1 oz whenever possible, but under extreme conditions you may need to go to the 1.5.

This is a big fish technique and calls for the heaviest stick you’ve got. A 7 foot heavy action flippin’ stick will work perfect. Spool up with some 50# test braid and your ready to go to work. You’ll need to peg the sinker with either a toothpick or a “peg-it” so that it will not slide up the line.

Next, rig up a YUM Wooly Bug and flip or pitch the bait into the matted cover. Sometimes the bait will stop on top of the mat and you will have to jiggle it a few times to get it to punch through. Once the bait falls through jig it slowly up and down for 10 or 15 seconds. If you don’t get a bite pitch it to another spot. I often find the bass “schooled up” under these mats and it’s not uncommon to catch a limit out from under 1 small mat. You may need to fish 100 mats before you find the magic spot, but when you do, it will definitely be worth it!

Mention shallow water and heavy timber or lay-downs and you probably think about jigs, soft plastics, and spinnerbaits. While these proven producers are valuable shallow water tools, there is another technique that can be super productive, even when the others fail.

What I'm talking about is cranking. Cranking? Cranking??? Yep, cranking! There are 2 keys to success when cranking heavy cover: (1) Selecting the right bait, and (2) using the right presentation. Here are a few tips to help you load your livewell.

Selecting the right bait – first of all we need one that is relatively snag free for fishing around heavy cover. Lures that have high buoyancy will decrease your risk of hanging up and allow you to retrieve your lure successfully through some pretty thick wood. Some of my favorites include the Cotton Cordell Big-O (C78), Cotton Cordell Wiggle ‘O’ (CW01), and the Rebel Wee-R (F93 & M93). I often fish these baits in stained or muddy water so my favorite colors include Fire Tiger and Red Craw. When the water is below 60 degrees I lean heavily toward the Red Craw.

Using the right presentation – You must to be willing to put your crankbaits in the thick stuff where the big fish live. Whenever possible cast past the target so that the bait has a chance to achieve the proper depth and action by the time it gets to the strike zone. As the lure approaches the cover, simply pause and let it float up a bit, then resume your retrieve. You will have to fish the bait slowly and methodically around this wood to keep it from hanging up. This slow stop-and-go retrieve will allow you to walk the bait enticingly through some pretty messy junk.

Spool up with 17-pound test Silver Thread Fluorocarbon and you’re ready to go. Occasionally you will lose a lure, but they’ll make more!

If you have a weak heart, don’t tie on an XCalibur Xw6 Wake Bait. Otherwise, take note:

A true combination of a crankbait and topwater plug, the Xw6 Wake Bait is a hard-kicking, noisy, in-your-face sort of lure that truly is one of the most unique lures that has been introduced in a long time. It won’t work all the time. The fish must be in an aggressive mode. But when the situation is right, this bait will prompt ferocious surface attacks.

A real key to success with the Wake Bait is finding the right speed. Retrieved slowly, it will wobble widely on the surface, with its back out of the water and its rattle clicking methodically. Cranked hard, it will rattle loudly, kick erratically and run barely beneath the surface, pushing out a big bulging wake like a large baitfish swimming right at the top.

Fish the Xw6 Wake Bait on heavy line (at least 20-pound test) and hold on tight!

By far the most popular way to fish a YUM Dinger is with a weightless Texas rig, and in fact that is the technique I first learned. I have since discovered, however, that the addition of a bullet weight vastly broadens the range of situations when a Dinger will produce well and often makes it a more effective fish-catching tool. These days, I have a weight on my line at least half the time when I’m fishing a YUM Dinger

When bass are quite shallow (5 feet or less) and relating to sparse cover, a weightless Dinger can be tough to top. However, when the fish are a bit deeper, you can get the bait into the strike zone faster without losing any action by adding a 1/8-ounce YUM Weight. In addition, a weight allows you to penetrate denser cover, and at times the faster fall will trigger more strikes, even in shallow water To get a Dinger through thick cover, I may add a ½ ounce XCalibur Tg Weight to my line.

Cast a Dinger to specific targets that you expect to hold fish, and let the bait fall on a slack line, watching the line closely. Many strikes will occur on the initial fall because of the enticing nature of a Dinger’s undulating fall through the water column. Once the bait finds bottom, gently tighten the line, and if you feel ANYTHING unusual, set the hook hard.

Webmaster’s Note: Alton Jones introduced YUM Dingers to the bass fishing world in 2003 when he won a BASS Pro Tour event on Clear Lake using Dingers before they had even been formally released.

My best tip regarding line is a simple as it gets: Switch to Silver Thread Fluorocarbon for all subsurface fishing. Without changing anything else, you will consistently catch more fish if you make this one adjustment.

Fluorocarbon is the most amazing line type known to man, but it’s critical to understand that not all fluorocarbons are created equal. Silver Thread Fluorocarbon is, without rival, the best fluorocarbon I’ve ever used because of its abrasion resistance and castability.

Beyond being the least visible type of line under the water, fluorocarbon stretches less than mono, allowing you to feel both strikes the bottom make-up more effectively and set the hook efficiently even when you are fishing deep or making very long casts. Plus, because of the great abrasion resistance, you won’t have to re-tie very often, even when you are bumping nasty cover.

Spool a rod or two with Silver Thread Fluorocarbon next time out, and I’m confident that you will begin noticing a positive difference immediately.