Big baits in skinny water

It’s late summer. The air is hot, so is the water. Bass fishing can get tough. A lot of guys head towards deep water. That’s not a bad move, but it’s not the only one. There are still plenty of quality bass shallow and they can be caught by anglers who are savvy enough to show them something that looks natural and at the same time is a little different.

That something can be a big, plastic bait. Most of us go smaller when we get into shallow water. Lots of times we don’t even realize we’re doing it. It’s almost instinctive. The water’s skinny and our lures should be the same.

But, it’s late summer. Everything’s had a chance to grow and that includes whatever’s swimming around in 2 feet of water and being eaten by the bass that are in there with them. Bigger looks natural. It’s what they see all the time.

At the same time I also want to say that because most anglers are going small something big looks different. It’ll get their attention.

I know what I just said is contradictory. But I believe those two factors, taken together, make for a better bite. Catching bass isn’t always about logic. Sometimes it’s nothing more than doing what works.

Most big plastics don’t look all that real. They’re designed to trigger the predator instinct in bass. How many 10-inch purple worms do you think a bass has ever seen? And when is the last time you saw something in the water that looks like most creature baits?

Regardless of all that, they work. I specifically remember two tournaments where upsizing my plastics in shallow water made a huge difference. The first was on Old Hickory in Tennessee. It was miserably hot and the fishing was really slow. Most of the guys were downsizing their plastics and fishing shallow. I went big and finished second. The other time was on Table Rock. It was basically the same situation. My big baits resulted in a 10th place finish.

My favorite late summer, big shallow water lure in a 10-inch worm. It does everything we’ve talked about and it has the advantage of being long enough that it sticks up out of the mud and stays visible to the fish.

My second favorite is a giant creature bait. Something around 6-inches is about right in my book. And, the more tentacles, claws and other things that are hanging off it, the better.

Another thing I like about bigger plastics is that they have more movement to them. A 4-inch worm won’t move around much. It’s just sort of there. But a 10-inch version of the same worm will wave back and fort as it falls and even move around some after it falls.

One last thing: Big plastics aren’t just for big bass. I cut my teeth fishing the Ohio River. It’s where I learned to tournament fish. And, in case you haven’t heard, the bass in the river aren’t real big. Nevertheless, at this time of the year I’ll throw a 10-inch worm off and on, and I’ll catch plenty of 12-inchers on it.

Go big when you go shallow for the next few weeks. You won’t regret it.

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