One of the questions I always ask during my seminars at the ISE shows or at bass club talks I give is how many people in the crowd have ever caught a bass deeper than 40 feet deep. You would all be surprised at the extremely low number of  people who raise their hands. I would venture to guess that less than 5 percent of the people in any of the crowds has ever raised their hands and when you get into 50 or 60 feet the number gets even lower.

It seems that when we are headed to a spotted bass fishery many times we are expecting to catch smaller fish and often focus on numbers instead of quality. Playing the numbers game when you are fun fishing or fishing with your kids is what makes Spotted Bass so much fun but on tournament day you need to remember it’s quality over quantity.

So many times we have a hard time getting away from the schools of 12-14 inch spots and find ourselves weighing in that dreaded 7 pound bag of spots. Hopefully I can help you with some techniques and my thoughts on how to catch larger spotted bass. The Spotted Bass is the nomad of the bass family and they spend a great deal of time suspending over very deep water or just living in water 50-90 feet deep. The reason that Spotted Bass remain such a mystery to many bass anglers is they have very limited experience fishing these depths and many experienced bass anglers reluctantly admit they have never caught bass deeper than 40 feet. The angler that spends considerable time on our spotted bass lakes knows to stay with these fish many times you will find yourself fishing in the late summer and fall from 40 to 80 feet. I have tried to break out some of my favorite baits and techniques by time of year for you to use a guideline.


By far my favorite time to chase big spots and the time be prepared to catch them in 5 or 50 feet of water. I said the Spotted Bass is the nomad of the bass family and this is the time of year that you will really see this theory come into play. So many times we try to get our limit in the live well and then go chasing the larger bite. In the winter this plan for me is reversed and the first couple hours on the water is the key to catching that kicker fish. When the water temp is in the low 50’s to high 40’s I like to start off my day with a crankbait and cover as much shallow water as possible. You may only get a couple strikes during this time but they may be the biggest of the day. After the first couple of hours I usually start fishing deeper and stay there the rest of the day. My favorite technique for deep spotted bass is dragging a ¾ or 1 ounce jig on 12-14 pound Berkley Vanish. I make vertical drops under my boat and drag the jig with my trolling motor, keeping an eye on my front depth finder. I prefer a football head jig with no weedguard and a light wire 4/0 Gamakatsu hook. I fish a lot of the hula grub type jigs in green pumpkin and cinnamon purple however I am usually not without my live rubber jigs and pork when the water gets really cold. My all time favorite deepwater color in rubber and pork jigs is purple. I think this color is more visible in deep water than any other. Rod selection is very important and I prefer the Lamiglas 724 Senko Rod for deep jigs. Keep the jig on the bottom in 40 to 60 feet of water, fish the creek channel breaks and long points and remember if your not losing jigs you are not fishing them right.


We usually have rising water at this time of year in our lakes and the big spots are on the prowl and looking for an easy meal. The nastier the weather the better for early spring spotted bass this is the time for a ripbait or spinnerbait on long points leading into major creeks, secondary points in main creek channels and if you have running water in the backs of the creeks remember that Spotted Bass have a tendency

to think they are Trout and they will be in the shallow running water in the backs of the creeks. When the fish start to make their first move shallow I like a ripbait that will dive a little deeper down to 8-12 feet or a spinnerbait in ¾ or 1 ounce that I can get down 8-20 feet. You can keep it pretty simple with colors with Ghost Minnow, Chartreuse Shad or Table Rock Shad in the ripbaits and Chartreuse with Chartreuse Blades or Gold Blades on your spinnerbaits. As the water warms and fish are getting closer to spawning I look for larger fish on isolated bushes or trees and I like to fish a weightless bait like a Berkley Gulp Sinking Minnow or Jerk Shad. Just prior to the spawn the spots will group up in large numbers near the areas they are going to spawn in.


One of the most overlooked times to catch large spotted bass due to the heavy boat traffic on most of our good Spotted Bass lakes. This is however the time for topwater and don’t think it only works first thing in the morning. Remember that Spots will travel in large schools, suspend and often live far from the shore. This is the time to start fishing your topwater baits far off the bank on long points, island tops or anywhere they can move up shallow and feed and then move back into deeper water. It is not uncommon for Spotted Bass to come out of 20 feet of water to hit a topwater bait this time of year. It is hard to beat a walking bait like the Super Spook, Vixen or Rover for these fish and I keep the colors pretty simple with Trout Patterns and Shad Patterns being my favorite. I do change all my treble hooks on these baits to one size larger Gamakatsu Round Bend  treble hooks. You can experiment with colored hooks and feathered tails to help you build some confidence in this type of bait. At this point I am experimenting as well with the red hooks. Two of my other favorites are a small popper like the Bubble Pop or the Rico and big Spots will crush a buzzbait as fast as a big largemouth will.


The toughest time to target big spotted bass in my opinion as the lakes are usually dropping, the bait is very deep and fish are likely to be anywhere from 10 to 100 feet of water. Big Spots are no different than big Largemouth and when the trout start roaming around chasing baitfish they start roaming around chasing the Trout. This is the time when you can catch some giant Spotted bass on swimbaits but this is also the time when some of the best soft plastic fishing will also work very well. Try dropshotting with ¼ or 3/8 tungsten weight around the baitfish you will see on your meter. The heavier weight this time of year will get you down to the deeper water and give you more control of your dropshot rig. I also fish a small 4” power worm on a ¼ ounce darthead on 6 or 8 pound test Vanish line this time of year as well. Fall can be one of the most frustrating times of year for Spotted Bass and often it is when we are fishing TOC’s on deep, clear reservoirs after a summer of chasing shallow largemouth on the Delta or Clear Lake.

Hopefully this will give you a few places to start when you are looking to catch bigger Spotted Bass and if your are going to fish deep you need to learn how to properly deflate the swim bladder on these fish. Good Luck on whatever Spotted Bass lake you wind up on.

So many anglers overlook fishing a jig in the fall and winter months. Often they think that when the weather and water temperature get cold the bite gets tough, this is the farthest thing from the truth. That theory works well for largemouth when winter hits but spotted bass continue to feed.

We all have jigs in our tackle box that we flip on Clear Lake or the Delta and these usually have a 5/0 heavy duty hook and a weedguard to keep you from getting hung up. These jigs are only a cousin to the jig you should be fishing in deep water. We normally flip a 3/8 or 1/2 ounce jig and these are light compared to my deep water jig. My favorite is a 3/4 ounce football head jig with a 4/0 Gamakatsu light wire hook, no weedguard. I will fish the 1 ounce jig but I like the 3/4 more often.

I will fish with a variety of skirts and trailers but I usually will fish a Yamamoto double tail Hula Grub in Green Pumpkin or Cinnamon/Purple. The other jig I fish a great deal when the water gets below 50 degrees is a live rubber jig with a pork trailer. Many anglers have gotten away from pork but I still use a great deal of it in the winter months. My primary colors in rubber jigs is brown/purple with purple pork or all purple. I usually fish the Super Pork tadpole. I never seem to have enough time to tie my own jigs anymore and one of the best jigs I have found in the stores is the Bass Patrol football head jig. They have a quality hook and come in all the good deep water sizes including the one ton jig. My two favorite colors is brown and brown/purple.

My rod, reel and line selection are also very important. I usually fish 12lb Berkley Big Game line on my jigs with a Lamiglas 724 Senko Special rod and Pflueger President reel with a 6:1 gear retrieve. I will drag my jig more than hop it or swim it, usually with my trolling motor keeping it on the bottom. In the winter months don’t be afraid to fish that jig from 40-80 feet, it is easier than you think and you will be able to feel the jig this is the reason for the heavy head.

Good Luck

Watch any of the fishing tournaments on TV or check out a weigh-in the next time a tournament comes to your local lake and you will notice one thing on each of the anglers boats, a variety of fishing rods in several lengths and actions. You can compare this with a professional golfer carrying a bag of clubs. Golfers have several clubs with them because they don’t know what the round ahead is going to throw at them and bass anglers are no different.

I am sure that many of you remember when your bass rod was also your trout , shad, trolling, striper rod but now you have a several different rods in your boat for all the techniques you have mastered and few more your still working on. I am no different and what rods aren’t in the boat are in the rack in my garage waiting to go!

It seems that when I am at sport shows in the spring I get asked so often about baitcasting rods and reels and so often these ‘necessities’ that we all have to have are a good source of frustration. I usually find the biggest problem new baitcasting anglers have is they fish too light a bait and too light a line for this combo to be effective. If the bait is too light the line will not go out and you are going to have a lesson in knot removal. Under most conditions if you are using a bait that weighs less than ¼ ounce and your fishing line lighter than 8lb test you need to keep this on a spinning rod. My personal choice for spinning rods are  7’ to 7.6” medium light Lamiglas rods. I am a bit weird that I really like the longer spinning rods and Lamiglas will be coming out with a 7’4 pro series drop shot rod that is becoming one of my favorite rods. This rod with a Pflueger President spinning reel and 6-8 pound test Berkley Vanish is always in my boat.

I fish a variety of baits including drop shot rigs, dartheads, weightless worms, Senko’s, and small minnow and topwater baits on my spinning rods.

My choices for spinning rods and reels is quite simple compared to my baitcasting selections and we don’t have the space to get into every technique and rod and reel choice but I want to cover some of the standards you would find in most of those boats you see at your local tournament. My bait casting rods are always at least 7’ and several rods that I fish are even longer. These are just a few of the rods that I have found as a favorites, hope this saves you some time and money.

Lamiglas 766 Flipping Stick with a Pflueger President Reel: This combo is my workhorse, not only do I use this rod as my Flipping Stick but it is also my frog rod, and I will use it in the spring when I am throwing spinnerbaits and buzzbaits

on Clear Lake and the Delta. Lamiglas makes an 8’ flipping stick (the 806) that is a great rod but you all know about that old dog new trick saying. I still flip with 20 to 25lb Big Game Mono line but when I am fishing the frog I usually fish 65lb Spiderwire Stealth. I am using the 8’ rod with 80lb Spiderwire when I am flipping the big 1 to 11/2 ounce weights in very heavy cover.

Lamiglas SR 705 with Pflueger President Reel:  This rod is one that I carry about 4 of in my boat. It was designed by my good friend Skeet Reese and this rod is a fiberglass 7’ medium reaction bait rod. I am not sure of the reason we made this rod yellow but I am pretty sure it was to match Skeet’s hair. This rod is my topwater rod, spinnerbait rod, crankbait rod pretty much any bait that I am moving through the water with a steady retrieve I use Fiberglass. These rods will load up with a big fish on and not pull the hooks out like a stiffer action graphite rod. This rod I usually have anywhere from 10 to 15 pound Berkley Big Game line.

Lamiglas XC 767 with Pflueger Trion Reel: This combo is my big swimbait rod and the Trion reel is a the only round reel I use but I want the bigger reel for more line capacity. I usually fish this combo with 20lb Big Game line and I am finding it rarely leaves my boat. The swimbait is fast becoming one of the best big fish baits here in Northern California.

Lamiglas XC 724 with Pflueger President Reel: One of my favorite rods and although it is called the “Senko Special” it is my jig rod as well. This is without a doubt the best big jig rod I have ever fished with. In the fall and winter I fish a lot of ¾ to 1 ounce jigs in deep water and I will always have this rod in my hand. It does make a great Senko or weightless bait rod.

Lamiglas XC 764 with Pflueger President Reel: This combo is another one of my workhorse rods. I fish everything from small plastics, Senko’s , jigs, bigger spinnerbaits, spoons, Carolina Rigs you name it. I can’t tell you how many of these rods I have. Skeet actually turned me on to this rod several year ago and he said “you better get more than one” and he was right. If you are looking for a medium flipping stick that you can do anything with this is the rod.

There are several more rods that I use but we will have to save that for another column and I am sure that many of you will check out several of these models the next time you are in Fishermen’s Warehouse and not agree with my choices and that is ok because there will be a rack full of rods and I am sure you will find the right one to fill your bag of clubs. See you all on the water!

Most bass anglers remember the first time a bass blew up on their top water lure. For many of us that first experience was on a bait out of Dad’s tackle box like a Jitterbug or Hula Popper. That first strike probably played a huge part in your addiction to catching green fish. That strike probably came as your lure came past a tree, stump or weed patch, do you remember it now?

Topwater fishing is still a technique that tournament anglers rely on to put fish in the boat and our choice of topwater lures is much larger than it was when we raided the top tray of Dad’s box. Today’s topwater lures will take up several tackle boxes and like many of our bass lures we will search out the best bait for the job. Topwater fishing has also evolved into a technique that you can use to catch bass from early spring to late fall. In the past we probably only fished topwater in the heat of the summer and then only at dawn and dusk.

I want to share with you several of my favorite topwater baits and how and when I fish them. A walking bait like the River 2 Sea Rover or Heddon Zara Spook has become one of the most popular lures on the tournament trail. The “Spook” was all but forgotten until Greg Hines put it back into the winners circle at the 1980 U.S. Open on Lake Mead and for the past 25 years or so it has been one of the baits pro’s turn to. The large walking baits are heavy enough to make a long cast with and cover a large amount of water. These  baits are worked with a “walking the dog” technique that has the bait walking from left to right to entice the strike. It takes a bit of practice but mastering the presentation of this lure will put some awesome bass into your boat. I prefer to throw these baits on 12-15 pound test Berkley Big Game mono line. Working the Rover out on long points, over a submerged willow bush or on the high tide at the Delta has resulted in some of my biggest bass.

The Popper