A tactic many anglers overlook

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Laurie W Tisdale

I’ve been at this bass fishing game a long time and one thing I can assure you – you can learn something every time you’re on the water.

This past spring was a good example. Most of my fishing was done around the spawning season, and quite a bit of it was during the postspawn when adult bass were guarding newly-hatched fry.

Most anglers know that “fry guarders” are protective of their young, so fishing for them can be one of the most productive patterns when conditions are tough during the postspawn period.

There are a handful of ways to catch the adult fish that are guarding fry, but I have had success doing something a little different and believe it will work for you.

But first you have to know where to look.

Schools of the tiny bass will gather around something as simple as a single stick in the water or boat docks, grass beds or laying logs.

Initially, the fry will utilize available cover near their spawning areas before making their drift toward the main lake.

You may find them around wood or grass in the shallows at the back of a creek, but I’ve had considerable success catching fry guarders around creek marinas located closer to the main lake.

That’s where I utilized a unique pattern last year while fishing a tournament on Lake Texoma. The shad were spawning and that was a good way to catch bass in the early morning. But once the sun got up above the trees, the bite got really tough.

I was in a marina and glanced down next to a floating dock and saw a ball of bass fry suspended next to the dock and over deep water.

It reminded me of a technique I learned years ago on Old Hickory in Tennessee — a deadly technique and one that many anglers overlook.

The water was clear, so I rigged up a Texas rigged Zoom Ultra Vibe worm on 12-pound Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon line with a 3/16-ounce sinker and began catching fry guarders all around that marina.

Obviously, you can catch fry guarders on popper-style baits or stick worms, but this allowed me to cover water faster and trigger those bites around the marina where the adult fish were suspended around and beneath docks.

In this situation, the water was fairly deep and the adult bass were suspended off the bottom but well below the fry and out of my sight. The key to this technique is to fish under the fry but not too deep where your lure is no threat to fry or its guarder.

I would pitch the bait out next to the docks and start slow-winding it back to the boat.

If the water is stained and visibility is limited, I will upsize my line to 18-pound Shooter, a 1/4-ounce sinker and a Strike King Rage Bug, a lure that displaces more water. Regardless of the soft plastic I use, black with red flake seems to be the most effective color.

The pattern can work all day and can be even better later in the day when fish move tighter to the shade.

Swimming plastics for fry guarders can be a technique worth filing away for the next time you are confronted with tough postspawn fishing conditions.