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Lucky Craft Man

How Do You Catch Middle Column Suspending Bass?

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I was fishing the other day and I would mark a ton of fish suspending around 10 feet below the surface in 20 feet of water.  I threw crankbaits that would dive 10 feet (along with ones that would dive 8 feet and ones that would dive 12 feet), I tried lipless crankbaits, deep diving jerkbaits, swimming tubes around 10 feet deep, and I even tried a weightless Senko.  I couldn't get these things to hit anything.  

What strategy do you guys use when trying to catch fish suspending in the middle column of water?

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Suspending bass are generally inactive. These are the hardest fish to catch. Unless they are under baitfish and actively stalking a school, they are not worth spending your time on.

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Like RW said, these fish can be difficult unless they are related to structure or baitfish...I would say all your tactics listed were the right choices and would have been the same I would have tried...I have heard of marking suspended fish at a certain depth and targeting that depth with a drop shot rig with a senko or your preferred drop shot lure...Might be worth a try next time you find that same situation

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I would agree with GrandSlam.  The drop shot is an excellent presentation for suspended bass.  But another technique that I have heard about, but seldom use, is a bobber rig with a Senko or similar lure.  This will keep your bait in the stike zone longer with less movement and may just aggravate them basses to take a swipe at it.

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Like RW said, these fish can be difficult unless they are related to structure or baitfish...I would say all your tactics listed were the right choices and would have been the same I would have tried...I have heard of marking suspended fish at a certain depth and targeting that depth with a drop shot rig with a senko or your preferred drop shot lure...Might be worth a try next time you find that same situation

For the situation I saw the other day, the length of line from my drop shot hook to my weight would be 10 feet long, which is why I didn't consider rigging up a drop shot.  Have you guys ever fished with such a large distance between the hook and weight and if so, how manageable is it?

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I have caught fish myself and seen a television show where just your normal dropshot rig length didn't inhibit the effectiveness of the rig despite the weight not being in contact with the bottom.  Try a 2-3 foot leader, a little longer than normal but will get the weight out of the picture for the fish, but should be manageable.  I can't remember the name of the show I saw, but they were dropshotting for smallies and they marked one on the graph at 18' even though they were in 25-30' of water, and they dropped their same rig down and let out that length of line and they caught him.  Worth a try and experiment with the leader lengths, figure out how long you can make them, but still have them managable.

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Suspended bass are catchable, but normally the last ones that I'll target.      

One of the most under utilized baits for suspended fish are spoons, little georges, and other forms of tail kickers.

 Suspending type cranks that hang in the water column are excellant choices.    

Swimming a jig, chatter bait, spinnerbait, or a large Panther Martin in-line spinner also works.   A swimbait is another option.

Slow falling plastics that stays in the strike zone longer, such as a split shot worm can take a few.  

Matt

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What strategy do you guys use when trying to catch fish suspending in the middle column of water?

To a certain point RW is correct, suspended fish are mostly on "inactive" mode, doesn 't necessarily mean they can 't be catchable, it means that they are hard to catch ( sometimes really hard to catch ) if you are patient and stubborn you can still catch a few.

One way I attack them is with a suspending crankbait if I can reach them with it, a dirty trick is to increase the size of the hooks to the next size up in a Rapala Shad Rap, the added weight of the larger hooks is enough to make the bait suspend, cast the fartherst you can to make the bait dive so that when it 's running at it 's max diving depth it runs to the level at which the fish are holding, stop and twitch the bait, twitch and keep twitching with an ocassional jerk so the bait moves right in front of their faces while you reel in the slack line. I catch a few by doing that.

Another way I attack them is with a soft plastic jerkbait ( like a Shad Assasin and more recently with a GYCB Shad Shape worm ) or a small sized paddle tail or curly tail grub or minnow ( 4" ) rigged on a 1/16 - 1/32 oz jighead, with 6-8 pound test and spinning gear and a ML rod ( or L ). Cast an let it sink ( about a ft every 2 seconds depending upon the shape of the bait  ) until it reaches the depth at which the fish are holding. Once it has reached that depth it 's time to start shaking the bait, small shakes of the rod tip ( nothing fancy ) while you reel in the slack, three or four turns of the handle, let it sink again for a couple of seconds and begin shaking again while you retrieve. Usually I can milk some fish while doing this, when you feel the fish do not set the hook like if you are trying to cross it 's eyes, just lift the rod and reel in, the fish will hook itself.

Another method requires the use of a kahle hook and a nail weight, same setup. Grab the bait and about 1/3 of the length you insert your kahle hook like if you were wacky rigging the bait but instead of rigging it in the middle of the bait you are going to rig it ALONG the bait, then insert the nail weight in the head. Cast, let it sink and do exactly like I explained previously.

RAZOR SHARP hooks please !

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LC Man, in answer to your question about drop shotting at 10 feet -- the first time I ever saw this technique was when fishing with a guide on Table Rock Lake (about 10 years ago).  I had been told by the locals that the bass were "suspended at 30 feet over 70 feet of water".  I thought  how in the he** would I ever be able to catch these suckers.  The guide started rigging us up after locating the bass in the water column - I began to have doubts about this guy because he was riggin upside down - after he explained we started fishing and loaded the boat with spots and large mouth.  Lesson being, if you can find 'em on the depth finder and dangle the bait in front of 'em they will bite it.

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Some great ideas here. Honestly, when I've encountered suspended bass, I've usually gone on searching until I found a more active, structure-oriented group. But I have seen a couple of instances, Lake Erie smallmouth fishing, where a vertically dropped tube bait on a light jighead, barely moved, got some bites from smallies that were suspended halfway to the bottom. They don't bite well or take the bait very deep when they're suspended, so like Lucky Craft Man says, your hooks had better be sharp! -- JC

What strategy do you guys use when trying to catch fish suspending in the middle column of water?

To a certain point RW is correct, suspended fish are mostly on "inactive" mode, doesn 't necessarily mean they can 't be catchable, it means that they are hard to catch ( sometimes really hard to catch ) if you are patient and stubborn you can still catch a few.

One way I attack them is with a suspending crankbait if I can reach them with it, a dirty trick is to increase the size of the hooks to the next size up in a Rapala Shad Rap, the added weight of the larger hooks is enough to make the bait suspend, cast the fartherst you can to make the bait dive so that when it 's running at it 's max diving depth it runs to the level at which the fish are holding, stop and twitch the bait, twitch and keep twitching with an ocassional jerk so the bait moves right in front of their faces while you reel in the slack line. I catch a few by doing that.

Another way I attack them is with a soft plastic jerkbait ( like a Shad Assasin and more recently with a GYCB Shad Shape worm ) or a small sized paddle tail or curly tail grub or minnow ( 4" ) rigged on a 1/16 - 1/32 oz jighead, with 6-8 pound test and spinning gear and a ML rod ( or L ). Cast an let it sink ( about a ft every 2 seconds depending upon the shape of the bait ) until it reaches the depth at which the fish are holding. Once it has reached that depth it 's time to start shaking the bait, small shakes of the rod tip ( nothing fancy ) while you reel in the slack, three or four turns of the handle, let it sink again for a couple of seconds and begin shaking again while you retrieve. Usually I can milk some fish while doing this, when you feel the fish do not set the hook like if you are trying to cross it 's eyes, just lift the rod and reel in, the fish will hook itself.

Another method requires the use of a kahle hook and a nail weight, same setup. Grab the bait and about 1/3 of the length you insert your kahle hook like if you were wacky rigging the bait but instead of rigging it in the middle of the bait you are going to rig it ALONG the bait, then insert the nail weight in the head. Cast, let it sink and do exactly like I explained previously.

RAZOR SHARP hooks please !

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If you scrutinize the area real well with your electronics, you will notice that suspended schools of bass

"always" relate to baitfish &/or bottom contour (e.g. drop-offs), which is the reason why they chose that spot.

Nevertheless, bass (like people) do not eat all day long.

When bass are tightly schooled they have no choice but to employ gangland tactics because loner ambushing is not even possible.

When bass get too big to chase shad in open water they will not join a school (normally ranked in year-class).

Schoolies are typically small bass, though an occasional large bass may lie beneath the school, but don't count on it.

Unlike fish with teeth, bass swallow their meal whole, so there's little or nothing for trophy bass to glom (no falling debris).

           The schoolies wait patiently, but not for your lure or mine, but for baitfish in the area to get sloppy

and amble into easy striking distance. This of course triggers a feeding frenzy, what we call a "blitz" in saltwater.

These bonanzas are generally short-lived, so slowpokes need not apply. Most of the boats will chase after the baitfish,

but the schoolies normally regroup in their original lair, waiting to ball-up the next clumsy school of bait in the exact same spot.

Roger

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IF THEY ARE DEEP ENOUGH TO GET ON TOP OF THEM W/O SPOOKING THEM TRY AN ICE FISHING LURE BY RAPALA CALLED A JIGGING RAP.   ALSO THE DEPTH THEY ARE SUSPENDED AT SHOULD BE A GOOD INDICATOR OF THE DEPTH BASS THAT ARE MORE ACTIVE ON STRUCTURE WILL BE USING.

BAMA NATE

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My technique here is really a crappie technique.

Slip bobber with a jig. For the crappie and white bass I use 1/16 oz jig, and for black bass and hybrids I use 1/8 to 1/4 oz jigs (or bigger if I can find a big enough slip bobber).

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During the fall and winter tons of suspended bass are caught on jigging spoons; there is an excellent article over at The Ultimate Bass Fishing Resource Guide by Dean Stroman in which he details this technique quite well.

http://www.bassresource.com/fishing/Winter_Big_Bass_Fishing.html

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I would agree with GrandSlam. The drop shot is an excellent presentation for suspended bass. But another technique that I have heard about, but seldom use, is a bobber rig with a Senko or similar lure. This will keep your bait in the stike zone longer with less movement and may just aggravate them basses to take a swipe at it.

This is a good technique :)

I will wacky rig a senko or worm on a 5/0 weedless hook with a small bobber on choppy days and let the waves bob it around (one of my little tricks I don't really show people).

It does work for suspended bass if they are going to feed at all.

;)

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