A Day On The Lake With Terry Scroggins

A master in warm water structure fishing

BASS tournaments take place on huge bodies of water over several days of competition. But did you ever wonder how a top BASS pro would fare on your home lake — that little ol' bass hole down the road where you and your buddies fish? That's the premise behind Bassmaster's reality series, "A Day on the Lake With a Pro." Here, we put the hottest names in competitive bass fishing on small lakes they've never seen before, then give them seven hours to figure out a viable pattern while we log everything they do to locate and catch bass.

 This month Terry Scroggins steps to the plate. The 38-year-old Palatka, Fla., angler, the 2005 Southern Open points champion, has qualified for four Classics and has won four BASS events, all in his home state. Here's how events unfolded on June 19, 2006, when Scroggins took on Lake O, a 700-acre reservoir.

 › 6:32 a.m. It's 70 degrees and cloudy when we arrive at Lake O's deserted launch ramp. Scroggins is towing a Triton Tr-20X boat with a 225-hp Mercury OptiMax XS outboard, MotorGuide trolling motor and Lowrance electronics. He opens the boat's rod lockers and fans a dozen or so Airrus rods rigged with an assortment of crankbaits and soft plastics across the front deck. What's his game plan? "Early summer is a time when bass normally move offshore to points, ledges and humps with a sharp drop into deep water," Scroggins explained. "Summer bass normally hold tightest to structure and cover on sunny days; they tend to roam more under cloud cover, and may even move shallow. So given the cloudy conditions I'm fishing today, I'll need to check both deep and shallow water. If they're on offshore structure like I hope they are, big crankbaits and plastic worms should work. If they're shallow, I'll have lots more lure options."› 6:45 a.m. Scroggins launches the Triton and checks the water: It's 80 degrees and murky. He ties on a blue parrot Norman DD22: "This color should get 'em!"

 › 6:48 a.m. Scroggins runs downlake to the dam, where he makes his first cast with a 1/2-ounce white Lunker Lure buzzbait: "This is a good search lure, and is capable of catching a big fish — there are some big fish in this lake, aren't there?

"› 6:50 a.m. He continues down the dam, casting the buzzer parallel to riprap lining the structure.

 › 6:55 a.m. Scroggins fails to get a strike on the dam. He stows the MotorGuide and runs downlake "to check out the lay of the land."

› 6:58 a.m. Scroggins pulls into a secluded cove with several boat docks on the lake's eastern shore and tries the buzzbait.

 › 7:00 a.m. "Not much water here," Scroggins complains as his trolling motor stirs up mud. He kicks it into high gear, searching for deeper water. Baitfish are flipping on the surface: "That's a good sign!"

 › 7:03 a.m. Locating a dropoff cascading from 8 feet to 16 feet, he cranks a blue parrot Poe's 300. After two casts, he switches to the deeper-running DD22 he tied on at the ramp.

 › 7:06 a.m. On his graph, Scroggins spots some brush on top of a ledge dropping from 10 to 16 feet, and throws out a marker buoy.

 › 7:15 a.m. He works the dropoff thoroughly with the Poe's 300 and DD22. No takers.

 › 7:18 a.m. Scroggins tries another DD22, this one blue back with white sides. He bangs the bait off a rock and a bass smacks it, but doesn't hook up.

 › 7:20 a.m. He tries a 3/4-ounce Ultimate jig, black and blue with a green pumpkin Zoom chunk trailer, on the drop. Why the heavy jig? "Most fishermen think a jig looks better to a bass when it falls slowly, but sometimes a fast fall will trigger a reaction strike —bass don't see that sort of presentation as often. Also, on a new body of water where you aren't familiar with the bottom structure, a heavy jig will follow the contours better and give you a clearer indication of what's down there."

 › 7:23 a.m. Scroggins hangs up the jig in a deep brushpile. He shakes it free, a bass hits it, and immediately hangs the lure up again in the same piece of cover. "Just my luck!" he shrugs as he breaks off the lure and ties on another like it. He trims the head of the chunk trailer square "so it'll fit snug against the jig's rattle" and glues it in place.

 › 7:40 a.m. Scroggins has patiently probed the ledge with the jig, garnering one more tap in the process: "I wish they'd go ahead and eat it instead of just messin' with it!"

 › 7:47 a.m. He pulls up to a boat dock and skips a green pumpkin Zoom Trick Worm rigged on a 2/0 Owner straight shank hook with a single split shot beneath a boat dock.

 › 8:02 a.m. Scroggins cranks a firetiger Luhr Jensen Speed Trap across a flat running between two boat docks.

 › 8:06 a.m. Scroggins pauses to Texas rig a tequila sunrise 10-inch Zoom Ole Monster Worm. He's using a 5/16-ounce sinker and a 5/0 Owner straight shank hook.

 › 8:08 a.m. The pro idles 25 yards to a rockpile that's a foot deep on top, 15 feet deep on the sides, and drags the worm around the structure.

› 8:15 a.m. Still wormin' the rockpile: "They oughta be here sometime during the day!"

 › 8:24 a.m. After working 360 degrees around the rockpile without a bump, Scroggins idles away from the structure, eyes glued to his graph. He crosses a shallow flat, follows the contour out until it breaks off sharply into deep water, and drops a buoy. "Somebody's sunk a big brushpile on the break," he observes. He backs off and casts the big worm at the submerged shrubbery.

 › 8:30 a.m. Scroggins can't coax a bass to bite on the ledge, so he idles to a nearby point, drops a buoy near the shallowest part of the structure, and cranks a chartreuse Bomber Fat Free Shad across it. He's fishing the crankbait on 30-pound braided line with a 2-foot fluorocarbon leader: "This setup gives me incredible feel!"

 › 8:32 a.m. On his second cast, Scroggins' leader breaks, sending his Fat Free Shad into orbit and prompting him to quip, "So much for that clever idea!" He ditches that rod in favor of the cranking stick with the Poe's 300 on the business end.

 › 8:40 a.m. Scroggins catches his first bass of the day, a scrappy 3-pound, 12-ounce largemouth, on the Poe's 300: "I felt it bang off some rocks, then the fish creamed it!" He drops a second marker buoy right beside his boat, "so I can line up to the spot where that fish hit."

 › 8:45 a.m. Still cranking the point.

 › 8:54 a.m. Scroggins tries the 10-inch worm on the point. A bass picks it up and drops it.

 › 8:55 a.m. Scroggins slams back his worm rod and a big bass surges off the top of the point for deeper water. He works it closer and swings aboard his second fish of the day, 4 pounds even: "Two casts here with the worm and two quick bites! That's awesome!"

 › 9:03 a.m. Scroggins rigs up a fresh Monster Worm, and promptly whacks his third keeper, 3 pounds, 6 ounces. "I felt the worm slide over a log and the fish thumped it. It didn't hit nearly as hard as the first two, so I sat back and let him chew on it a couple of seconds before setting the hook."

 › 9:15 a.m. Scroggins is in full attack mode now, bumping the Monster Worm across the point, but hasn't had another strike for several minutes: "I may have to switch to the ol' 'ball and chain' (Carolina rig) if I don't pick up another fish quick!"

 ›9:16 a.m. Scroggins' concern about re-rigging evaporates as he catches his fourth keeper, a 2-3 largemouth, on the big Texas rigged worm. That's the last worm in the pack he's been using, so he rummages through several storage boxes crammed with lures until he finds some more. "There's some chunk rock and what feels like a log on top of the point, then it falls off real quick on either side," he explains as he threads a worm onto his hook. "The fish seem to be holding right on top, near the drop. This is a classic summer scenario — bass will often slide up onto a piece of offshore structure in large numbers to feed, hold there awhile, then slide back down deep. These fish are all running about the same size, but there may be some lunkers there, as well."

 › 9:19 a.m. The wind has picked up a bit. The cloud cover is dense and it's unseasonably cool as Scroggins continues bumping the worm around the point.

 › 9:25 a.m. A big bass breaks water off the end of the point, prompting Scroggins to say, "I gotta try something!" He digs out a big perch colored Shimano Triple Impact, a weird-looking surface plug sporting a crooked back and a gold tail prop. "Watch this!" he says as he casts it across the point. Upon retrieve, it sloshes, spits and gurgles enticingly. "A friend of mine picked this bait up for me in Japan. I've caught several 8-pounders on it!"

 › 9:34 a.m. Scroggins can't pull a strike on the Triple Impact, so he puts down that rod, picks up a light spinning outfit spooled with 6-pound mono and says, "I bet I get a bite on this!" He ties a 1/8-ounce V & M jighead to the tag end and rigs it with a green pumpkin Zoom Trick Worm: "Just cast it out, let it sink to the bottom and shake the rod tip — works everywhere in the country!"

 › 9:36 a.m. Scroggins is right — on his first cast with his shaky head worm, he catches his fifth keeper, 1 pound, 2 ounces: "I always get a lot of bites with this presentation, even during severe cold fronts. It's mainly a limit-getter, but it'll catch big fish, too."

› 9:41 a.m. The sun is trying to peek out as Scroggins shifts around to the side of the point, casting the Monster Worm parallel to the drop.

› 9:45 a.m. "Let's leave this spot and come back to it later," Scroggins suggests as he cranks the Merc. "I feel really good about how the day is unfolding, especially with this cloud cover— usually I do better structure fishing under sunny conditions, 'cause that focuses the fish tighter to dropoffs and cover. I've still got four hours left, so hopefully I can pick up a couple of big fish and get my weight up."

 ›9:49 a.m. Scroggins returns to the nearby dropoff with the brushpile on it and tries the 10-inch worm. A fish pecks it, then drops it.

 › 9:54 a.m. He makes a short run to a creek arm in the extreme upper end of the lake, where he tries the 10-inch worm along a creek channel drop.

 › 10:00 a.m. Scroggins pauses to run a piece of toothpick through the head of the worm and eye of the hook "to keep it from sliding down."

 › 10:06 a.m. He rigs a citrus shad Fat Free Shad to one of his cranking rods then runs back downlake, eyeballing his graph as he follows the lake's western shoreline. Spotting a fast-dropping ledge, he circles back around to examine the structure more closely, then drops a buoy. Does running over a piece of structure spook bass that may be on it? "Naw, not when it's that deep (in this case, 10 feet). On most lakes, bass are accustomed to boats constantly running overhead."

› 10:18 a.m. A jet ski scoots down the lake as Scroggins probes the ledge with the Fat Free Shad and Monster Worm.

 › 10:27 a.m. After fishing all the way down the ledge, Scroggins picks up the buoy and proclaims, "I can't stand it! I gotta go back to my magic point!"

 › 10:40 a.m. Scroggins returns to the point, drops two buoys as before, and immediately catches his sixth keeper, 3-9, on the Monster Worm. This bass culls the 1-2 caught earlier.

 
› 10:44 a.m. Scroggins bags his seventh bass off the point, 4 pounds, 12 ounces, culling his earlier 2-3. The floor of his boat is littered with ripped-up Monster Worms as he threads a fresh one onto his hook.
› 10:48 a.m. Scroggins swings at a bass, but misses: "She picked it up and swam toward me!"
› 10:55 a.m. A 1 1/2-pound largemouth sucks in the big worm; Scroggins' eighth keeper won't help his weight total.
› 11:00 a.m. Scroggins sets the hook, but the bass drops the worm. "Man, these bass are on this point big-time!"
› 11:02 a.m. "Bet I get a fish on this cast!" Scroggins grins. He casts the worm to the top of the point, where a fish grabs it. His ninth keeper is a chunky 4-8 largemouth. "They're stacked on that rocky bottom right where the point breaks from around 4 1/2 to 8 feet on the side. There must be a wad of 'em there, 'cause I'm hardly having to move the worm at all to get a strike!"
›11:08 a.m. Scroggins makes another cast with the worm and a good bass hits it on the way down. It shoots off the point and comes unbuttoned: "That felt like a bigger fish."
› 11:11 a.m. He tries the firetiger Speed Trap on the point, rooting it across the rocks.
› 11:16 a.m. Back to the Monster Worm. Scroggins catches his 10th bass of the day, 1 pound even.
› 11:19 a.m. Scroggins shifts to the opposite side of the point and casts the Monster Worm to the structure. The wind has picked up considerably and the sun is trying to break through the clouds.
› 11:24 a.m. Scroggins tries the 3/4-ounce jig on the point, hangs it in the log on top of the structure and breaks it off.
›11:30 a.m. Back to the shaky head finesse worm. On his first cast, a big bass eats it and speeds toward deeper water. Scroggins races to the back of the boat, the drag on his spinning reel screaming. Then the fish turns and gets off. "Dang it, that's the biggest fish I've had on all day!" he moans. "I told you they'd hit this little worm!"
› 11:35 a.m. He prepares a 6-inch green pumpkin Zoom lizard on a Carolina rig. His setup features a 4-foot leader of 15-pound mono, 20-pound fluorocarbon main line and a 1-ounce sinker. He drags the lizard across the structure several times, but can't coax a bite.
› 11:42 a.m. With the bite on the point tapering off, Scroggins picks up his buoys and runs back to the cove with the boat docks where he fished earlier.
› 11:45 a.m. With two hours remaining, Scroggins tries the Trick Worm around a dock.
› 11:53 a.m. He quickly abandons the dock pattern and runs to the lake's eastern shoreline, where he graphs a ledge with a sharp break from 8 to 21 feet of water. He cranks and worms the structure, but can't come up with a fish.
› 12:01 p.m. Scroggins tries a long point at the mouth of a cove with the 10-inch worm. It starts raining, then quits after a few seconds.
› 12:08 p.m. He locates the sharpest drop on the side of the point, drops a buoy, backs off and grinds the Fat Free Shad down the structure. Nothing.
› 12:10 p.m. The sun finally breaks through the clouds, immediately sending the air temperature skyrocketing: "Maybe this'll position 'em tighter to those drops where they ought to be!"
›12:12 p.m. He hangs the Fat Free Shad in a brushpile, breaks it off and substitutes a Tennessee shad-pattern Rapala DT16 crankbait.
› 12:17 p.m. He hangs the DT16 in his marker buoy: "Oh well, I was ready to pick it up and move anyway!"
› 12:22 p.m. Scroggins idles to a nearby boat ramp, where he tries the finesse worm.
› 12:34 p.m. With a little over an hour remaining, Scroggins makes a high-speed run back to "the magic point." He tries the finesse worm around the rocks on top of the structure, but doesn't get bit.
 12:40 p.m. He switches to a 1/2-ounce black and blue Ultimate jig with a green pumpkin Zoom chunk trailer, alternately hopping and crawling it over the rocks.
› 12:54 p.m. Scroggins has probed the point patiently with the jig, but has hauled water. He reverts to the 10-inch worm. What happened to his pack of bass? "It's possible that I caught or sore-mouthed all the fish that were here, but I doubt it."
› 1:05 p.m. Scroggins abandons the point and runs to the rockpile he fished earlier. He circumvents it with the 10-inch worm to no avail.
› 1:25 p.m. Scroggins runs a quarter-mile downlake and fishes the edge of a big flat with the Monster Worm.
› 1:30 p.m. Scroggins runs 20 yards from the boat ramp "to try a ledge I spotted when we launched this morning." The structure drops rapidly from 7 to 22 feet of water and has some stumps and brush along the breakline.
›1:38 p.m. He hangs the worm in some brush, breaks it off and tries the 1/2-ounce jig on the structure.
›1:42 p.m. A bass taps the jig; Scroggins swings and misses.
› 1:45 p.m. Back to the ramp. Scroggins has had a fine day on Lake O, boating 10 keeper bass, the five biggest of which weigh 20 pounds, 9 ounces.
THE DAY IN PERSPECTIVE
"I caught all 10 bass off the same piece of structure, which isn't that unusual in summer," Scroggins told Bassmaster. "My fish were packed into one little area that had some cover in the form of rocks and wood, along with fast-breaking sides. It's critical to use marker buoys this time of year, not only to delineate some feature of the structure you want to fish, but as a reference point to help you keep your boat in the proper position when casting to the sweet spot. As I mentioned earlier, normally I do a lot better structure fishing on sunny days in summer, but today I caught all my bass under heavy cloud cover. Go figure!"
Be sure to watch A Day on the Lake on ESPN2 on Saturday mornings. Check your local listings for the time schedule.
Where and When Terry Scroggins Caught His Five Biggest Keepers
(1) 3 pounds, 12 ounces; main lake point with rocks and wood cover; blue parrot Poe's 300 crankbait; 8:40 a.m.
(2) 4 pounds; same place as No. 1; 10-inch tequila sunrise Zoom Ole Monster Worm; 8:55 a.m.
(3) 3 pounds, 9 ounces; same place and lure as No. 2; 10:40 a.m.
(4) 4 pounds, 12 ounces; same place and lure as No. 2; 10:44 a.m.
(5) 4 pounds, 8 ounces; same place and lure as No. 2; 11:02 a.m.
TOTAL: 20 POUNDS, 9 OUNCES

 

 

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