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Search Bait?

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Okay, so i've heard people talk about using a "search" bait to find where the fish are. My question is two part...first, if you are using a particular bait as a search bait and you get bit what do you do...stick with the bait that is getting bit or switch to something else (non-search bait)? If you DO switch why if you're getting bit on the search bait and what bait would you switch to? Thanks for clearing this up for me!!!

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I'm actually searching for the location of the fish.  Fan casting at the front, are they shallow, deep, or both.  Spinnerbaits and rattle traps are my favorite.  Once I determine it's one or the other, I'll keep fishing that bait until it stops producing, or is only producing small fish.  Then I'll slow down with a jig or plastic.  I most often go through this when I don't what is going on, and I have guest(s) in the boat that aren't as proficient at casting.  That way I can get them on fish.

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Search bait is kind of a vague term . I'm searching for fish I hope to make a cast or two that will steer me in the right direction . I might stick with the same bait or change . I'll make that decision when it happens not now .

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Search bait?

 

This is what I search with ;)

download (9).jpg

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I've found that when using a searchbait approach, fan casting a reaction-type bait such as a crankbait or a spinnerbait - the lure may get a strike but not get hammered.

 

I use the location of the strike as a guide to where to target with subsequent casts: that may mean a specific target to try and get the very fish that just hit, or it may also mean using the conditions in the area of the bite as a guide to select subsequent targets nearby (e.g. similar location, depth, structure, etc.).

 

After reading about strategies for dealing with fish that don't "fully commit" my experience has been that making a little change will turn hits on the searchbait into more agressive strikes.  For example, they didn't really want the bluegill crank, but the chartreuse/black back fished in the same location and depth will get nailed; or maybe they will swat at a walking bait going past a brush pile, but nail a senko fluttering down in the same location.

 

 

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lipless chatterbait or spinnerbait

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A search bait let's you cover lots of water when you are trying to locate fish. However, they usually draw only the most active fish in an area to bite. In my experience those often are the smaller fish in the area. Once you get a bite or two you can use a different presentation to catch the bigger fish. Last summer I got my PB this way. I was covering water with a lipless crank and got two or three bites back to back in a certain area. After I didn't get any more strikes for a bit I switched to a glide bait and slowly retrieved it back through the same area. First cast and my PB struck. The lipless crank got the smaller fish to bite and showed me the location, the glide bait drew the biggest fish in the school to bite.

 

I would keep using a search bait until you stopped getting strikes on it in an area, then switch to a different presentation if you think there are still fish there.

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My down/side imaging cover water a lot faster ;)

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Another question: 

 

when you are using the search bait idea, do you try to match the bass forage color or go with something with more visibility?  Example, if bass are eating bluegill in stained/dirty water, do you go with a bluegill crankbait or do you go to fire tiger or other bright option?

 

 Or am I overthinking it? 

 

 

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In dirty water I use high contrast colors: bright or very dark (black and blue). In clear water I use more natural colors.

 

One thing I would suggest you try in clear water is translucent baits. Many hard baits can be purchased in colors that are somewhat see through. I feel this actually is best in clear water with pressured fish because it obscures the view somewhat. The bass can tell something is there but it is a little harder to see what it is.

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On 6/7/2017 at 6:51 PM, Outdoor Zack said:

Another question: 

 

when you are using the search bait idea, do you try to match the bass forage color or go with something with more visibility?  Example, if bass are eating bluegill in stained/dirty water, do you go with a bluegill crankbait or do you go to fire tiger or other bright option?

Or am I overthinking it?

 

Yup, overthinking it  ;)

 

> How would you know if bass are eating bluegills?

> Is there anytime when bass won't eat bluegills?

 

Roger

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Here a new video by Glenn that will  help answer some of your questions . 

 

 

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If your goal is to practice casting then by all means use this "search" bait technique.

 

If ya wanna stop fishing & start catching then you will have to...

 

Understand what structure is, how to truly identify it, interpret it, and then fish it effectively.

Understand what the predominate prey species in your lake and how that species relates to structure with each season...morning, noon, and night.

Understand that next after location is timing; just because you don't get bite does not mean the bass aren't there or you tied on the wrong lure.

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I use a square bill and a spinnerbait as search baits. Electronics eliminates the need to use a lure to find fish in deep water but in shallow water it doesn't help a lot because you are seeing only small areas. Also, if you have pressure on your water an active sonar ping will shut the fish down, again, this happens in my home waters because of pressure and water clarity. Search baits help when you are faced with a lot of cover and are trying to find a pattern, like finding a backwater area with stumps, weed beds and boulder flats. The fish may not be actively chasing but a lot of times I can get one to turn on a square bill of boil on a spinnerbait and then I have an idea as to what cover the fish are holding. Sometimes they are just scattered and if they are eating the search bait I'll just stick with it. A lipless cranks works well during the post spawn period in my waters, it covers a lot of water but it also gets them to strike but just like fishing a topwater, which is also a good search bait, I have another rod rigged with a Senko or tube to fish spots that I had a fish react to my lipless crank. I understand electronics eliminates the need because you can see the structure, cover, and the fish but in my home water you won't mark fish because they don't school up in deep water, in the summer the oxygen levels are nonexistent past 15' so the fish ten to stay shallow and that means early on we use a search bait to identify spots the fish are holding and if they aren't really hitting those baits at least we have an idea of the cover they are favoring allowing us to pick those spots apart with a jig or worm.

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I don't care if you're fishing offshore or on the bank, ya fishing structure...that is if ya catching?

 

Y'all wanna eliminate water fast?

 

The first part of establishing a pattern is to find productive structure & then fishing it effectively!

 

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I use mapping & electronics to find & select the structure I want to fish

On water I'm familiar with, I'll use the best bait to effectively fish the "cover" I've selected on that structure.  The place that I think there may be bass.

On water's I'm not familiar with, I'll use the electronics & mapping to 'search' for seasonally appropriate structure and then use a "search" bait help find cover. Then I'll fish a bait that matches that situation.  Sometimes I'll get bit while I'm looking but more often than not, rather than machine gunning cast out in front and beating the water to a froth, alerting would be toads in the net of my presence, I prefer to hopefully find what they are holding in, on or around in advance.  Then select a bait that fits that situation.  

 

I'm my mind, the traditional bass fishing methodology of "searching' for bass, is akin to shooting up the woods in front of you while your heading into your stand, hoping to bag that big buck of a life tome - may reduce your chances a little.

YMMV.

A-Jay

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Up north is a little different.  With all respect to @Catt, transitional periods can really mess with you.  Spring smallmouth on Oneida, or fall largemouth the bays of Lake Ontario are two situations where searching comes into play for my fishing.  These are natural lakes, loaded with prime structural features.  Sometime, take a spin around Sodus Bay or Oneida on the Navionics web app, and you'll see what I mean.  Where to start?  The hot bite in fall might be in the River for Oneida.  It might be 5 miles away.  Whip out twenty or thirty casts with a bait that covers water, catch an aggressive bass, and start collecting clues and evidence.  I've learned my lesson on being married to structure during transitional periods, and even lost my butt in a few fall tournaments, because I was drowning jigs and worms where there weren't any fish.  My stubbornness didn't help either.

 

That said, when you are in a well established summer pattern, know the local bass haunts, then the idea of searching makes little sense.  I guess I can see covering water with a "search bait" when fish are scattered on a large flat.  But are you really searching?  You already know they're on that flat.

 

This topic got interesting, real quick.

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@J Francho I'm pretty sure @A-Jay is up north ;)

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Yes he is.  He also seems to be on the water more than anyone else.  And it doesn't hurt that he's probably better than most average weekend guys, like myself.

 

;)

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My search bait is a keitech swimbait. But honestly i dont understand the term search bait. Arent all lures searchbaits. If searchbaits find bass than why do we even fish other lures?

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1 hour ago, Catt said:

@J Francho I'm pretty sure @A-Jay is up north ;)

 

57 minutes ago, J Francho said:

Yes he is.  He also seems to be on the water more than anyone else.  And it doesn't hurt that he's probably better than most average weekend guys, like myself.

 

;)

 

 I believe J's response here is essentially what I do & would do if I fished the bodies of water he mentioned. 

Unless I was on those waters enough to "stay in tune & able to follow the bait, the fish & the bite around" it may be one of the few ways to find a reasonable level of success. 

And I am on the water as much as I can - and it does help. (but never seems like enough)

  Don't do weekend between Memorial Day & Labor Day.

A-Jay

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I'll add that I do essentially what A-Jay does when chasing brown fish out in the big lake.  I'm looking for alewife - carpets of them in 20-40' of water.  find them, and you will find quantity and quality, unlike hunting and pecking through widely scattered bass that are keyed in on gobies.  I discovered this a few years ago.  It was partially by accident, partially by design.  I stopped paying attention to the grid lines from shore to 20', treating that 20' line as my "shoreline."  Out in the big lake, there's no search baits, unless you troll.  If I don't see bait on the graph, I don't bother dropping a jigging spoon or DS rig.

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Here's a good example of "structure" on a grand scale.  Speaking of scale, look at the bottom right.  That's right, you have to travel a football field to get another foot of depth.  Yet, this is a spot where I ALWAYS can find smallies.

 

And back to the point of "searching," I agree with both thoughts on this.  There's a time for both or either.  I also know what Catt will say, and there are "interesting" structural features in this area that don't show up on the map.  Namely, large round boulders.  They're laid in the bottom, like cobblestones.  Bait fish can hide better, and I think that's why they're there.

 

Sorry for the turn in discussion...

 

 

LakeOntario.jpg

Edited by J Francho
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3 hours ago, J Francho said:

If I don't see bait on the graph, I don't bother dropping a jigging spoon or DS rig.

 

Fishing ledges on the Tennessee River is similar. To stop and play we must have bait

or visible bass. Fishing a void is a complete waste of time.

 

:fishing-026:

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23 minutes ago, roadwarrior said:

 

Fishing ledges on the Tennessee River is similar. To stop and play we must have bait

or visible bass. Fishing a void is a complete waste of time.

 

 

Visible bass is where I get hung up on local ledges....As a rookie sonar operator, I tend to think that EVERY arch is a bass....until a couple hours into a skunk, at which time I usually decide that NONE of the arches are bass

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