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Cuervo Jones wrote:They’re 3-d lurkers, using weeds and logs and branches and reeds. Depth is their friend, but they’re not shy about lurking in inches of water, waiting to inhale a mouse off the surface or rocket forward to crunch a bluegill. In the lakes I fish, there’s 2 populations of bass: the shad-stalkers of the deeper water and the bluegill-chompers of the shallows. My experience is that the shallower fish are more solitary while the deeper fish are more schooling. I’ve caught 6 lbs+ fish in both shallow and deep water, so I’m not sure if there’s any difference in big fish potential. That’s why I usually start by checking the shallows before moving deep. They can be absolutely anywhere man!

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Interesting, this little lake I fish might have something similar going on in miniature. There’s the open, sort of barren water bass that school up and rove around the lake after Shad or maybe tilapia and there’s the shoreline structure huggers. I kind of thought and may still think it might be seasonal and the fish are one in the same, but I’m not sure about that. Is that definitive enough for you? The rovers seem to be active in the fall, but I saw some in the summer, too. The shoreline huggers seem to be doing that ambuscade hunting when it’s warm and then ease down a little deeper in the cold, but I think they are still hovering around hard structure.

Once in a while, a small school of bass will come hustling right up against the bank almost exactly like a school of redfish. My daughter spied this first and I kind of thought she was putting me on, but then I saw it first hand. And they were a mix of sizes, but a couple looked north of 5 pounds. I grabbed her spinner rigged with a small jig, but got no love. There’s some big ones in this lake. She had a monster take a big live tilapia fished out deep, but it never got hooked and spit out the tilapia at the dock.

I just put some sink tip line on a reel and the next step is to tie up some big yak hair sunfish/tilapia baitfish. Tilting at windmills, this I know.
the bait without defense would be a lone lost shad in structure, or a bluegill in the wide open water, and as a rule, that's the way you fish your swimbaits.

I grew up fishing white bass jumps on Lake LBJ with my dad. We'd cruise around the granite nobs close to the dam, looking for the surface action, kill the motor on the semi-vee and glide in. I discovered smaller lures would take more fish, and that's what I bought my first fly rod for - to throw the 1/64th oz Rooster Tail and Panther Martin spinners available then.

In the 80s, my wife and I would picnic every summer Sunday afternoon at a grotto just up the bluff and rocks from Mansfield Park by the dam at Lake Travis (always shaded). There would be a jump there every afternoon. I kept a rigged fly rod with a Teeny line on the bank, while bobbing on air mattresses on the lake. When the jump began, paddle in, grab the fly rod, and bring home a striper for dinner. Never made more than 3 casts without hooking up. Got really good at vertical back-casts to shoot the teeny line.

as far as the need for realistic-looking baits, I've never met a big bass that would reject a jitterbug at rest.
For anyone looking for decent prices Swimbaits, BEWARE! The Spro BBZ-1 is a well know bait that you can find in Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, and plenty of other places. They’re around $30 which isn’t bad for an 8”, good looking bait like them. BUT. Quality control has always been a bit sketchy. I had one swell up and deform in the summer heat (Spro replaces it free, so props to them). I’ve had fins fall off (again, replaced free), and now, a new bait (out of the box and never thrown before) that I got as part of a package deal with some other lures a while back....
After about 20 minutes of casting in 50 degree water (so not freezing cold) and the entire tail portion snapped off. Retainer and all.
At this point, it’s not even worth replacing. I’ll salvage the hooks and toss the rest. For those who are curious, the BBZ-1 is Spro’s Chinese copy of Jerry Rago’s “Tool” swimbait. It’s a long, sordid story, but basically Spro, along with a guy named Bill Siemantel bought a few of Rago’s tools and then shipped them to China for cloning and mass producing. Classy! The quality sucks and I won’t bother throwing the ones I have anymore since I don’t trust that a big fish wouldn’t pull the lure apart.
Well what about those good looking Castaic “Rock Hard” baits that are all over eBay for so cheap? In this case, cheap is the operative word. I bought a couple to see what they’re all about. After about 15 minutes of throwing mine today the pins started pulling out of the plastic.
Again, not a bait I would recommend. I’ll try epoxy or crazy glue to keep the pin in. But come ON! How did these things get out to market with such crappy construction?! I always hear Castaic had major problems, but now I see that it wasn’t just a bunch of bad PR. I also see why the Rock Hard was discontinued and dumped onto eBay.
I’ll stick with the Mattlures and Bull Shads for now. Also Deps and Savage Gear seem to be good Baits that are holding up for me. So there you have it, TKF. STAY AWAY FROM CASTAIC AND SPRO and you’ll be a happier swimbait angler!

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The cooler weather has me all inspired to throw swimbaits again. I’ve just repaired the lip on one of my home brew rats.
It got smashed when a tree stump jumped out of the water and intercepted my perfect cast last year. But Ratty McRatface is all set to tempt the basses again!
And I just got a bead on a possum imitation that I’ll be flinging around to get the pretty, curvy big gurls to nibble on. I’ll lost a photo when i get it, but it’s 16” long total. 8” body and 8” tail. Aaaawwwww yeaahhhhh.

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Yep. Cold fronts and swimbaits are a good combination. With temperatures not getting above the 40’s and plenty of clouds, it was time to hit the lake. Water levels are up up up and I found some bass tight to the shoreline cover. Bait of choice as usual is the Mattlures hardgill.
This fish has lead a hard life. Banged up tail and skinny. Could she have spawned already?!
I tried a different color (brighter, male bluegill) that I got last year but haven’t fished yet. The bass approved.
Not a monster, but solid.
They were eating crankbaits too. But at heart I’m a Swimbait Cavalier, so it was always my first choice at each spot.
This one slammed it on a dead pause. Nice thing about the hardgill is the slower you fish it, the more aggressive the strikes. At least that’s been my experience.
Next time I’m going to try a rat or maybe a glide bait. So many options so little time!!!!

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Heaps of thanks Drifting Yak. I hope you find your way home to your shaggy kinsfolk and can put an end to your drifting lifestyle.
My latest acquisition has been an enormous possum-imitation called the Cl8bait possum. It’s monstrous and should wake up some of the equally monster bass I’ll be seeking in the coming months. Here it is compared to a bbz rat (middle) and my homebrew rat (top). The lunker bass won’t know what hit them when I swim this marsupial over their slavering jaws!

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