John's Journal...


Fishing Clear Lakes

EDITOR’S NOTE: Todd Ary of Moody, Alabama, a professional bass fisherman, fishes all the FLW and Everstart tournaments. This week, Ary talks about what types of lakes he fishes and the tactics he uses to catch bass in the fall.

QUESTION: What type of lakes do you like to fish at this time of year?

ARY: I like to fish either deep, clear, highland-type of reservoirs like Lake Martin or Smith Lake in Alabama. I also like to fish lakes with aquatic vegetation, like Guntersville Lake in north Alabama.

Click to enlargeQUESTION: Let’s start with clear lakes. How do you fish them to find and catch bass?

ARY: At this time of year, on deep, clear lakes, one of my favorite tactics to use is the turn-and-burn spinner bait. Most fishermen know that fall is a good time to find and catch schooling bass. Instead of waiting to see the schools appear on the surface, I look for them on my depth finder. Just below the surface, bass corral the shad into balls of bait. The bass use the surface of the water as a barrier to keep the shad from escaping. So, the only time you see the bass is when they blow through the schools of shad, knocking them out of the water. However, that feeding frenzy doesn’t last very long. If you depend on seeing the fish surface before you cast to them, you’re not going to catch nearly as many bass.

While looking at my graph recorder, I’ll search for schools of baitfish that are usually in 4 to 12 feet of water. If you look closely at the school of baitfish, you will see large arches on the outer edge of the school of bait. These arches are bass. Once I find the school, I move away from them and then, I use a Strike King Rocket Shad to catch them. I like both the 3/8- and the 1/2-ounce Rocket Shad, but my favorite is the 1/2-ounce. I take the Colorado blade off the Rocket Shad and replace it with a 3-1/2-inch silver willow-leaf blade. If I find the baitfish holding in 10 feet of water, IClick to enlarge know the Rocket Shad will fall at a rate of approximately 2-1/2-feet per second. I cast the Rocket Shad out and count to five. Then I reel the bait 7 or 8 times, causing the bait to rise about 3 feet in the water column. I kill the bait and let it fall to a count of two, which gets it back down to a 10-feet level, and then I reel it fast and kill it again. When the Rocket Shad races through the water, the shad will scatter, which triggers the bass to bite. By killing the Rocket Shad after I have scattered the school, it falls toward the bottom like an injured baitfish.

I fish the Rocket Shad on Mossy Oak Fishing Line’s Classic 12-pound test, which is really strong due to its diameter. It has very little memory, which keeps it from coiling as it comes off the spool. Because the Rocket Shad casts like a bullet being shot out of a high-powered rifle, I can cast it a long way. Too, this 12-pound test doesn’t put a lot of drag on the bait. This way, when I kill the Rocket Shad, it falls more naturally and more vertically versus a heavier-pound test with a larger-diameter line. The bigger line will cause the Rocket Shad to fall slower and possibly swing like a pendulum instead of giving a vertical fall to the bait.

Click to enlargeUsually, over river and creek channels, you may see a line of several schools of baitfish. On each retrieve, you may be scattering several different schools of bait, which gives you the opportunity to catch more bass. This very-effective technique works in the fall, especially on schooling bass. The other advantage to fishing the Rocket Shad on the 12-pound-test line is that when the bass are schooling on the surface, you can cast the bait directly to the school. As the bait falls, the bass will attack. Even if you cast to a location where bass are schooling, but not breaking the surface of the water, the Rocket Shad will fall where the baitfish and the bass are, producing several hook-ups for you. At this time of year, I won’t go to a highland reservoir without a Rocket Shad tied on 12-pound-test Mossy Oak Fishing Line.

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Check back each day this week for more about FISHING WITH PROFESSIONAL BASS FISHERMAN TODD ARY

Day 1: Fishing Clear Lakes
Day 2: Highland Reservoirs
Day 3: More Clear-Water Tactics
Day 4: Fishing Aquatic Vegetation Lakes
Day 5: Grassy-Lake Tactics



Entry 323, Day 1