Bluffing for spots

"Spotted bass always want to eat. They're always in a bad mood, and they always want to hit something," says Elite Series pro Eric Nethery. "That's why I love them so much!"

 Nethery is a Georgia angler who lives in the heart of spotted bass country and has come to appreciate the smaller cousin of the largemouth and smallmouth. Once a very regional species, spots are now spreading faster than any of the bass subspecies as our lakes age and become clearer and less fertile. They thrive in deep reservoirs with rocky substrate.

The best news about spots is that they're more aggressive than the rest of the Micropterus family and can really salvage a tough summertime day when your favorite reservoir is teeming with skiers and personal watercraft.

"One of the best ways to get a lot of bites when spot fishing," Nethery explains, "is to find a bluff bank on the main lake where a river channel sweeps up against the bank. Bluffs are always covered up with spots in the summer."

Nethery's weapon of choice for these bluff dwellers is a Zoom Finesse Worm on a 1/8-ounce jighead. He crawls it down the bluff, anticipating a strike as it falls. While bass will likely hold and feed all along the bluff, in Nethery's experience, the best spots will be at the ends — where the river channel swings away from the bank. And once he gets away from the bluff itself, he expects to catch only small spots.

"If you really get into them," Nethery says, "you can expect a pack of 20 finesse worms to last about an hour."

Another summertime hotspot is short points that fall into very deep water. If the point is rocky and quickly drops into a creek or river channel with 40 or more feet of water, Nethery knows it's a prime location.

"I like short points because I can cover them faster and locate the bass," he says. "In my experience, the deeper the water where it falls off, the bigger the spotted bass I catch."

If Nethery encounters cover in the form of brush or rocks on the point, his favorite tool for fishing it is a deep diving crankbait like the Norman Suspend DD22. He'll

crank the big diver down and bang it into the cover then pause it so that it slowly rises, taunting the bass into eating it.

"I'll experiment with my crankbaits and weighting the hooks with lead solder so that they just barely float up when they hit the cover, and I throw slack in the line."

If the bass-holding cover is too deep for the crankbait, the Georgia pro will pick up a 1/4-ounce finesse jig or 1/8-ounce shaky head with a Zoom Trick Worm. They'll go to the bottom in any depth and tempt the big spots that will salvage any summertime bass trip.