Swimbait fishing with Byron Velvick: Catching summer schoolers

Summertime is a great time to boost your swimbait confidence. When they come up busting the surface and making the water look like it's boiling, they'll nail swimbaits without a moment's hesitation. The trick here — like all swimbait fishing — is to match the hatch.

At this time of the year, they're mostly feeding on shad. That means you should downsize your lure, find a suitable body style that matches a threadfin or gizzard shad and then find a color that matches the color and slight variations in hue from one venue to another.

There are three baits I especially like to throw. They're good almost everywhere. The first is a small Berkley Hollow Belly, the second is a tiny Basstrix, and the third is a little Jerry Rago bait. They all come in suitable sizes, shapes and colors. Choose one that works in your water.

These are my recommendations. That's all they are, however. Don't overlook local favorites. Often they're perfect matches for the local forage, and they really catch bass. That's why they're local favorites.

To catch schooling summertime bass, you must make long casts. To do that it's necessary to have the proper tackle. I start putting my outfit together by selecting my rod. A Duckett Fishing Micro Magic 7-foot, 10-inch swimbait model is just right. It'll get your bait out past the fish so that you can crank it through the school, and it's soft enough that it won't tear the hooks out of the bass' mouth.

I use a faster reel at this time of the year than I do during the spring. Something on the order of 6.4:1 is about right. You need to be able to move the bait relatively fast through the fish and then get it back quickly so you can make another cast before the school goes down.

Line matters, too. My preference is 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. If the fish are especially big, I might go up a little, but not much. You need long casts. Lighter line helps, but be careful about going too light. You don't want to lose fat bass and expensive swimbaits.

Fishing for summertime schoolers with swimbaits is about as simple as it gets. Throw it out, way past the school, and crank it back right through the middle of them. When they bite, sweep the rod sideways — that'll be more than enough hookset — and wind them back to the boat while they fight near the surface.

The system I've just described is especially effective on highly pressured bass or on fish that have stopped biting one of the usual schooling lures. In most parts of the country, they've never seen a swimbait during the summertime. You can change that and catch a ton of them this year.

Because of that, I keep a rod or two rigged for schoolers on the deck of my boat from June through September. You should, too.

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