Shryock runs uplake to a series of shoreline pockets with lily pads. On his first cast with a green and white Berkley frog, a good bass pulls the lure under; he slams his rod back and misses the fish.
Shryock immediately pitches the shaky head worm at the bass, but it’s long gone. “Wow, that strike totally caught me off guard! I should know better than to take my eyes off my frog.”
He switches to a shad colored Berkley Choppo, a noisy surface bait with a rotating thumper tail, around the pads.
Shryock is fishing his way uplake, keying on pad patches and alternating between the shaky head and the frog. “Pads are awesome bass cover, but you’ve got to figure out where the fish are holding in them. Sometimes they’re at the edge where the pad field meets open water; sometimes they’re on isolated pad clumps; sometimes they’re where two sizes of pads grow close together. They tend to be on really specific patterns in this stuff.”
Shryock has had a couple of small bass nip at his frog. “I’ll stay with the frog in the pads until the sun gets a little higher, but no longer. Getting dialed in to a precise pad pattern can take a whole practice day in a tournament, and I don’t have that much time today.”
Shryock drops his Power-Poles and flips pads with a black and blue Berkley Bunker Hawg creature on a 4/0 flippin’ hook with a pegged 1/4-ounce sinker.
Back to the frog. “Given my time constraint, I’m using the frog as a search bait, retrieving it fairly quickly. I’m just looking for a blowup to get some feedback from the fish.”
6 HOURS LEFT
7:45 a.m. Shryock idles into a nearby cove to fish more pads with the frog and creature. “Some of these pads look brownish-yellow, like they normally do in late fall. Also, I haven’t seen any milfoil or hydrilla so far. I wonder if this lake hasn’t been sprayed to kill aquatic vegetation. That’s never good for the bass.”
7:53 a.m. Shryock retrieves the Choppo parallel to the edge of a big pad field. “I’d like to see an 8-pounder plaster that thing!”
7:57 a.m. Shryock dramatically switches gears by tying on a copper shad Berkley Dredger 20.5 crankbait. “I’m not feeling any love from those pads, so I’ll try fishing offshore.” He idles to a long, main-lake point and grinds the diving plug across the structure.
8:02 a.m. He casts a green pumpkin 3/8-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait with a matching Berkley shad trailer around the end of the point. “There are stumps all over this point, but I’m not seeing any bait or bass on my electronics.”
8:08 a.m. Shryock makes a blistering run to the extreme upper end of the lake, where muddy water is entering the system via a culvert. He casts the shaky head worm to a ditch in front of the culvert and bags a small bass.
8:17 a.m. Shryock tries the frog and the creature in a nearby patch of shallow, emergent grass. Neither produces a strike.