Supersized summer dropshot
From the time the weather began to warm early this year until now, every lake in the country has seen the local angling population hammer the resident bass with every bait and presentation under the sun. And now, with the return of summer’s heat, long days and rising water temperatures, the bass in most places are retreating to their offshore confines, looking for cover and an easy meal.
With the experience gained from being heavily pressured (and sometimes caught) all year coupled with the surplus on forage, bass can be pretty picky eaters this time of year. To catch them, you are going to want to show them something they don’t see all of the time. In this day and age, a dropshot rig isn’t uncommon, but using a dropshot with heavier line and bigger baits in and around heavy summertime cover can be an effective way of coaxing even the most pressured bass into biting.
Most people think of that a dropshot is done with 6- and 8-pound line on a spinning reel in clear, open water. Sure, there is plenty of this kind of dropshotting going on everywhere, but a casting reel and 12- to 15-pound Berkley Trilene 100 percent fluorocarbon line and some new Berkley Gulp! Alive can be just as effective in stained water and around heavy cover. This dropshot technique isn’t the same vertical presentation that most of us already know; instead, I like to cast this rig to places where fish should be (near structure) in both deep and shallow water. In summertime, getting on top of a finicky bass in 10 feet of water to fish vertically can be difficult, so casting becomes our best option.
Once I cast the rig to the target, I let the dropshot sinker hold the bait in place as I shake the line. By shaking the line, the bait hovers in the same place and looks alive. After a few shakes, I pick up the rig and move it a foot or two – but I don’t drag it. This allows you to cover a fair amount of water, but it still allows you to work slow enough to allow the Gulp! to work effectively.
Using 12- to 15-pound fluorocarbon line is a must in these situations. If you want to be able to land a fish you catch in the bushes or around a boat dock or in some tree tops, you need some bigger line. If it was 10-pound or smaller line, I would use a spinning reel, but I throw this rig on an Abu Garcia REVO STX with a 7-foot Fenwick Techna AV medium-heavy rod. I like the Techna AV for this technique because it has a little faster tip and that’s really important to help shake the line. And since I am using bigger line, I can also use bigger baits like a Green Pumpkin 5-inch Gulp! Sinking Minnow. The newest Gulp! bait, Gulp! Alive, is going to be on the market by the time the tournament trail heads north this year and I can guarantee that I will be using plenty of that.
The Gulp! Alive is an even more potent form of Gulp! bait. Plus, instead of coming in a plastic package, these baits come in a plastic pail and are completely suspended in Gulp! juice. What this means for anglers is that the baits will maintain their intended shape better and have a better action in the water. Also, it means that when one Gulp! Alive bait has been used for a while, it can be dropped back into the pail to be recharged and used again later. For this time of the year, I will be Texas rigging the new Gulp! Alive baits on wide-gap hooks about 12-14 inches above a ¼-ounce tungsten sinker.
A dropshot is a highly effective way of catching fish any time of year. But this summer, when the big bass retreat to heavier cover and deeper water, don’t be afraid to go after them with bigger tackle. By slowing down and allowing the new Gulp! Alive baits to flood the area with a scent trail, these pressured bass will believe they are seeing and smelling real food, which will make them want to eat and get more fish to your boat.
Skeet Reese is the 2007 BASS Elite Series Angler of the Year and an eight-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier. Reese lives in Auburn, Calif.