When the heat is on, one of the best spinnerbait slingers ever sticks with his blade bait.
While others opt for a plastic worm on a scorching summer day, Jimmy Houston slings his spinnerbait around shallow cover in murky water or deep weed edges in clear reservoirs. The shallow spinnerbait pattern works best in the summertime on lakes that stay mud red throughout the spring. “There are areas in those lakes that don’t clear up hardly at all until late June, July or August,” says Houston. “It is water that was too muddy to fish earlier in the year and now it clears up to the point where you can catch them on a spinnerbait.”
The two-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and longtime TV celebrity knows bass will stay in the shallows on these lakes no matter how hot it gets. “Bass are warm-water fish, and they don’t mind water temperatures in the high 80s in the shallows,” says Houston, who has taken fish as shallow as 6 inches on his blade bait in the heat of summer.
“I’ve caught them in 2 to 3 feet of water from the rice paddy reservoirs in Arkansas in some of those heat waves where it was over 100 degrees for several days in a row and water temperatures were over 100 degrees.” The bass fishing legend throws his spinnerbait around any shallow cover such as logs, fence rows, brush piles and stumps. A steady retrieve works best for Houston until his blade bait reaches a piece of cover.
“I try to fish the lure as slowly as possible when I am in what I consider to be a potential strike zone area, which is generally only a few inches on any given cast,” he says. “When I get in that strike zone I will give a little shake or two with my rod tip or let that bait bump into whatever cover I am fishing.” The Oklahoma pro keeps his rod pointed downward and moves it to the left or right at times to run his lure into the cover and trigger a reaction strike.
“Not only do you have a deflection in the movement of the bait (when it hits the cover) you also have a deflection in the sound of the bait because the blade changes its rotation,” he says. Houston’s favorite blade bait for shallow summertime fishing is a 1/2-ounce Booyah Vibra-FLX spinnerbait (blue/chartreuse/white or fire tiger skirt) with a No. 5, 6 or 7 Oklahoma or Colorado blade.
If he’s fishing a clear lake with deep grass, Houston switches to a 3/4- or 1-ounce white Booyah Blade spinnerbait with a No. 6 or 7 gold willowleaf blade and a No. 3 silver Colorado blade. He occasionally modifies the lure by replacing its skirt with a 5-inch Yum Money Minnow. Positioning his boat parallel to the weed line, Houston slow rolls the spinnerbait down to depths of 10 to 20 feet. The key to his presentation is ticking the top of the grass throughout the retrieve.
“You are better off if you are making contact with that grass and bumping it,” he advises. “It’s a great way to catch really large fish in the summertime because most people are throwing shaky heads, Carolina rigs and jigs then.” Whether he’s fishing the shallow cover or deep weeds, Houston relies on a 6 1/2-foot medium-heavy rod and a U.S. Reel Effortless 700X baitcast reel with a 6.55:1 gear ratio for his summertime spinnerbait tactics. He prefers green 14-pound-test Berkley Trilene XT most of the time for running spinnerbaits in the shallows, but Houston will switch to 17-pound test when fishing on reservoirs noted for big fish.
Because he wants his spinnerbait to run deeper while fishing the weeds, Houston opts for 10- to 12-pound-test line then. When the temperatures rise into triple digits, it’s a sure bet that Jimmy Houston will be slinging a spinnerbait somewhere.
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