Across the northern tier of the continent, particularly in the interior, bass fans are increasingly focusing on deeper weeds and structure. But wherever water temperatures and weed conditions allow it, fine fishing still can be had in shallow-water sweet spots sporting slop or rocks.
This past week, for example, I attended a Rayovac FLW Series tournament on northern California’s legendary Clear Lake. If you’ve never visited this iconic fishery, nestled in the scenic hills and wine country, it’s a must-see.
And right now, though the lake is down at least four to five feet due to ongoing drought, it’s still kicking out largemouths on a variety of patterns. Shallow ones, too.
Aaron Britt, of Yuba City, Calif., proved the merits of shallow structure as he rode a killer crankbait pattern into victory lane. The hard-fishing young gun, who also recently qualified for the TBF National Championship on Grand Lake next spring, keyed on hard-bottom points and ledges to sack a whopping 70 pounds over the course of three days to pace the 106 pros battling for top honors.
Britt favored three crankbaits, a Damiki DC-400, which he likes for its unique action, plus a Spro Little John DD and Bill Norman DD 22. He was fishing them on a 7-foot, 11-inch iRod cranking combo stoked with 12-pound Seaguar fluoro. The outfit engendered long casts and yielded great sensitivity, he said.
“I’d cast as far as I could, then reel as hard as I could to get the bait to bottom,” he told me after the event. Britt used rod sweeps to propel the bait along bottom, taking up slack at the end of each sweep.
Britt’s top ledges were close to deep water, and his game plan was patrolling the structure, casting his way along it while waiting for active bass to move up and feed on baitfish and crayfish. “Other guys would roll in, cast and leave,” he said. “But I knew if I waited, fish would move up. And when they did, I’d catch them.”
On the weed front, a number of pros targeted shallow slop. Some, like fourth-place finished Kyle Grover, of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., tossed small crankbaits like Lucky Craft 2.0 square bills in one to three feet of weed-checked water. “I don’t think I had a cast come back clean all week,” he said. Others, like Patrick Spencer, of Penn Valley, Calif., punched thick mats with a 1-ounce tungsten weight pegged to a Berkley Havoc Craw Fatty.
Besides offering a great chance to get to know some of the West’s hottest—and nicest—sticks, the event proved the power of shallow grass and structure wherever water conditions and forage collide to lure fall bass shallow. For full details, visit: FLWOutdoors.com