5 favorites: Gleason’s offshore baits

Second-year Bassmaster Elite Series pro Darold Gleason has over a decade of experience fishing the offshore ranges of his Toledo Bend home waters, along with nearby Sam Rayburn. Both fisheries helped him hone his deep-water prowess. He also applies that expertise on fisheries everywhere else. 
When it comes to offshore strategies, Gleason is a firm believer in graphing his spots to locate schools and looking for clues that may help him determine their mood. Proximity to the bottom, school density, etc. — details observed on his Lowrance electronics guide his bait choices.
Crankbait. When he’s targeting a group of fish in 15-18 feet, Gleason’s first offering is a Strike King 6XD in chartreuse blue. For this presentation, he wants his fish tight together near the bottom. This is when a crankbait keeps the presentation right in the fish’s face.
Describing his bite-triggering strategy, Gleason said: “I burn that 6XD; I reel it really fast. I use a high-speed reel, and I smoke it to trigger a reaction strike. I’m trying to get the biggest one to react.”
Football Jig. For dragging across deep structure from brush to shell beds, Gleason likes a V&M Flatline Football Jig in his signature Gleason’s Candy color and a V&M J Bug trailer, usually in green pumpkin. This package is a great bluegill/craw imitator, he said.
Gleason typically turns to the football jig after he’s caught several fish on the deep diving crankbait but he believes there are more that’ll bite. Good thing is, this is still a big-fish bait, so Gleason’s definitely looking for kickers, “ocean ponies,” as he calls them.
Carolina-Rigged Creature Bait. Baiting this rig with a V&M Baby Swamp Hog gives Gleason an appealing profile that tempts those deep fish in a more subtle manner. With a fairly substantial body, the Swamp Hog tends to stay close to the bottom.
Noting that he likes a 2- to 3-foot Carolina rig leader, Gleason said: “This is a bait I throw when they’re being lethargic. A lot of this stuff, you just have to throw it and see what they want.”
Carolina-Rigged Jerkbait. If the creature bait doesn’t impress them, Gleason switches to a Carolina-rigged V&M Pork Shad. A good baitfish imitator, this one integrates well into the fish’s natural environment.
Another Pork Shad benefit is its smooth, gliding appearance as it hovers higher off the bottom. Giving the fish a different look with the same Carolina rig presentation helps Gleason dial in their preference.
Drop Shot. When Gleason cycles down to his finesse presentation, his cleanup bait is a V&M Sharp Shooter in the Morning Dawn color. This 4 1/2-inch hand-poured worm has an ultra-soft form and that pinkish color works coast to coast.
Gleason points out that the drop shot may, at times, become his starting bait. “On (Tennessee River lakes), a lot of times, those ledge fish have been messed with, and it’s hard to get them to bite. I might throw the drop shot in there and catch one or two and it gets them excited. Then, you can swap to the jig or the crankbait to catch those bigger fish.”