Cast after cast, your reliable old standby lures aren’t getting bass to bite. It’s time to get creative with your presentations.
Fishing can sometimes be a challenge when the dog days of summer roll around. Not only are you trying to stay cool, you’re trying to put together a pattern on the lake. Water conditions that are causing bass to become less aggressive result in lots of casting and winding back in with little results. This is also the time of the year when fish have endured months of heavy fishing pressure, and they’ve seen all the new baits that hit the tackle store pegs in the early spring. This is where creativity comes into play. Experimenting with tackle with an open mind can mean more bites on those tough summer and early fall days.
Color is one of the easiest things to modify about your tackle. Odd colors, which we don’t often think are natural looking, will often trigger bass to bite because they stand out so much. If you’re into airbrushing your own hard baits, this is easy to do. However, there are plenty of different colors that often go into the discount bin at tackle stores that are perfect for this occasion. For example, when hitting an area where you know fish have seen many shad-colored crankbaits, try something with a chartreuse combination.
The same thing can be applied to soft plastics as well. I’m often reminded of the many bags of chartreuse pepper worms I keep handy for late-summer offshore fishing. A bright pink, orange, or chartreuse worm works well on some lakes that have a lot of offshore fishing pressure. There are a number of dips and dyes available to modify the head or tail of your plastics to stand out. Dipping the tail end of a plastic in chartreuse is a well proven method of getting more bites at times when bass won’t bite the standard plastic color.
Adding feathered trebles and trying odd colors can sometimes keep the bass biting in high-pressured areas.
MODIFY THE ACTION
There are many baits that can be modified to change the action to be a bit different. Again, it’s often the baitfish that stands out the most that gets eaten. Crankbaits are a good example. Shaving or melting the plastic lips on crankbaits can make a bait more erratic, dive deeper, have a tighter wobble, etc. Bladed baits, such as chatterbaits and spinnerbaits, can also be modified by changing the size or the shape of the blades to push more or less water. You can also try swapping out different kinds of plastic trailers to change the action and fall on your spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, frogs, jigs and others. If you have a garage full of tools, it’s the perfect place to craft a new action on your lures before heading to the lake.
ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES
There are a handful of accessory modifications to give your lure a more aggressive presence in the water. Insert and banded rattles can easily be added to soft plastics and jigs to make them stand out more. Crankbaits and other lures that traditionally have rattles also come in different versions. Some use larger or harder rattles, others have no rattles at all. Blades and feathers will also create a different look. Add a feathered treble hook to your favorite crankbait when it’s not getting bites. You can also add a spinning willow blade to your favorite swimbaits by using a screw lock and a swivel, giving extra flash and vibration. Bass are highly visual predators, but don’t forget about scent as well. There are a variety of liquid and gel scent products on the market to put a good stench on your lure to entice bites.
If it’s applicable in your state, there are lots of double-rig ideas that you can apply to give a bigger presence in the water. A double fluke rig is a regularly used pair, but you can apply this to other baits as well. Fishing a shakey head on the bottom? Try adding a drop-shot rigged worm right above it. One of my favorite options for fish that are shy to hitting a topwater is to replace the back treble with a short leader and weightless rigged worm or fly. This way, the fish doesn’t have to commit to coming all the way to the surface to grab your topwater bait.
Replacing the back treble with a fly will give a subtle target for timid topwater bass.
You might be surprised at what bass will actually go after. Remember, bass are opportunistic feeders, and they often eat the the baitfish that stand out from the rest. It’s these tough times on the water that have sparked some of the best lures we all have in our tackle boxes today. So, when the fish aren’t biting very well, take a break to examine your tackle. You might just create the next big bait that fishermen can’t live without.