Mega Suspended Bass
By MITCH LOOPER
Suspended bass. Just mention to your partner that you are targeting suspended bass and they will usually find an excuse not to go fishing with you.
Well, the truth is that suspended bass can be caught, and many times provide the best fishing in the lake simply due to the fact that these fish are unpressured. Almost like fishing a lake that hasn't been fished in a long time. The key to catching these fish is selecting a lure that can be kept at the fish's depth and has the moves to make bass bite.
This lure is the YUM Garrett Mega Tube with a jighead slipped up inside. This has become my favorite tube for suspended bass. I don't know what it is about the bait that makes fish bite it better than other tubes, I just know they do.
To rig the Garrett Mega Tube for suspended bass, I start with a 1/4 oz. jighead with a light wire hook. I often use a jighead with a wire cable weedguard, and it does help you to fish it through cover, but even better, it helps keep fish buttoned to the hook by keeping pressure against the fish when they jump. Now, with the wire cable weedguard, first trim the wire to where it just clears the hook point. Then bend it straight out in front of the jighead. Now, lay the jig beside the tube, so you can get an idea of where the line tie should come out. Remember, the jighead should be placed as far forward in the tube as possible for this application (if it is not placed far forward, it will spin and twist your line on the retrieve). Now take some YUM attractant and squirt a little at the base of the tentacles (this keeps the tentacles from following your jighead when you push it inside the tube).
Now take your jighead and gently push it, wire weedguard first, into the body of the tube. The wire should come out at the predetermined place you selected for the line tie. Once the wire weedguard has poked through at the proper place continue to push the jig as far as it will go into the tube. Then push down on the tube to expose the line tie. Bend the wire weedguard back toward the hook, tie on and you are ready.
I most often fish this rig on a Pflueger spinning rod and 8 to 10 lb Super Silver Thread line. It is very important to use the same line, jig weight and rod and reel so as to acquire a sense of feel about where your lure is in the water column. That is why I almost always use a 1/4 oz. jighead.
Now to catch suspended fish you first must find them. You will most often find catchable suspended fish in summer and winter, and in some lakes the fall season. You will usually find them in a clear water main lake area, in open water, loosely relating to changes in bottom depth. Creek channels are a good place to start, and in summer, fall and winter you can usually find at least one school of suspended bass using a creek channel.
Another major key to finding catchable suspended bass is the presence of shad or other open water baitfish. In my part of the country, shad are the deal. If I find a school of shad that are suspended well above bottom, I look around for some type of depth change nearby, and at the same time, some bigger marks that indicate bass. Often these bass will be over the middle of the creek, rather than on the edge, but will be at about the same depth as the edge of the channel. So, they may be 10 feet deep over 30 feet of water.
If this is the case, I will toss out a marker or triangulate with the above water terrain so as to stay in the area where I marked fish. I then cast as far as I can, trying to cast past where the fish are, get my line semi-tight (just to where I can feel the bait) and count the bait down. I try to count one count per second. If done properly, when I reach 10 the bait will be at 10 feet. I then pump the rod three or four times while reeling slowly, then let the bait fall again. This brings the bait up to about 6 feet, so I count to four as the bait falls, then pump it again as before, repeating all the way to the boat. Once you get that first bite, the rest come easy, and it is not unusual to catch 20 bass in 20 casts.
You might find suspended bass as deep as 40 feet. No problem, just count your bait down to 40 feet and follow the above instructions, and your bait will be very close to the fish.
The bite can feel like a thump on your rod tip, or your lure may just stop sinking before it should. Since we are not fishing the bottom, anytime your line goes slack you should set the hook.
Hooksets are not the same as with shorter line techniques. Your line has a lot of stretch, and with 100 feet of line out, if you just jerk when you get a bite you will only get enough stretch out to alert the bass that something isn't right. Instead, when you sense a bite, raise your rod tip slightly and reel as fast as you can. When your rod tip starts to go down with the pressure of the fish, sweep the rod and continue reeling until you are good and tight with the fish.
Now, the thing about a YUM Garrett Mega Tube rigged this way is that it has a seductive fall, gently swaying back and forth, but also the bait will act like a soft jerkbait on the twitches, darting from side to side, except unlike a soft jerkbait you can fish it 35 feet deep! What a trigger! Very few bass have seen this type of action at these depths.
When targeting suspended bass it is important to keep things simple so you can easily repeat your presentation. That is why I use the same rod and reel and the same line and jig size. I also try stay on the simple side when choosing sizes and colors of Garrett Mega Tubes. If I am fishing for smallmouth, or the water is really clear and shad small, I use the 3-inch. If the shad are bigger, or water is a little dirty, I will go with the 4-inch size. Color is simple – anything with smoke. Smoke Red Flake is one of my favorites, but all the smoke colors work well for me on suspended fish. I usually start out with three different colors of smoke, and once I get some bites, I try each to determine if they like one better than the other.
Suspended bass are really fairly easy to catch as long as you have the right bait due to the fact they are relatively unpressured. This is the right bait!
Mitch Looper lives in Hackett, Ark. Mitch is renowned in fishing circles as being one of the world's best trophy bass anglers.