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Bass Fishing on Mussel Beds?

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Hey,

I'm headed down to Lake Wheeler to prefish for a tournament in June, and I assume that fishing mussel beds is my best chance at doing well.  So my question is:  Whats the easiest way to find mussel beds?  I have a Humminbird SI 997c, but I'm not exactly sure what to look for and I would hate to waste my time staring blindly at the unit.  I know it would take to long to start fan casting and dragging a heavy jig to find them.  So please help.  I'm looking for any advice I can get.

Thanks all

-Wil

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    See if you can pick up an copy of BASSMASTER MAGAZINE March issue.   There is an excellent article in there about fishing mussels by Tim Horton.  He explains how to find them and what to fish them with once you find them.

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See if you can pick up an copy of BASSMASTER MAGAZINE March issue. There is an excellent article in there about fishing mussels by Tim Horton. He explains how to find them and what to fish them with once you find them.

How 'bout posting a summary? I don't subscribe

to the magazine, but I'm very interested in

the article and answers to this question.

Thanks!

8-)

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I'm assuming this is the article?

http://proxy.espn.go.com/outdoors/bassmaster/members/insider/bmmarchive/story?page=b_fea_2009_Big_Lures_Subtle_Presentation_0309_public

There is more in the article, but here is what they say about fishing them.

Fishing mussel beds is much easier than finding them. Whatever baits work for you on other hard-bottom structures will produce bites when you fish mussels. For Horton, that means mainly crankbaits and jigs.

Booyah's Creek Craw pattern Pigskin Jig is Horton's choice for mussel beds. He dresses the hook with a green pumpkin 3 3/4-inch Yum Craw Papi and drags it over the mussels with a 6-foot, 10-inch medium-heavy All Star rod matched with a Pflueger 7:1 gear ratio Patriarch baitcasting reel spooled with 17-pound-test Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon line.

Dragging the football jig kicks up a ruckus because it bumps forcefully against the mussels, stirs up silt and puts the craw trailer in a perfect defense posture. Horton hops the jig only when it hits a stump, boulder or some other obstruction. He opts for a 1/2-ounce jig in water 14 feet deep or less when there is little or no current flow. In strong currents and deeper water, Horton steps up to a 3/4-ounce jig to maintain constant bottom contact. He was using a 1/2-ounce jig when he won the Champlain tournament.

"I love the special Gamakatsu hook in that Booyah jig," Horton says. "I caught loads of bass on it at Champlain and only lost one fish the whole tournament."

Crankbaits are also big players when Horton fishes mussel beds, particularly Bomber's No. 6 Fat Free Shad, which dives 8 to 14 feet deep, and the No. 7 Fat Free Shad, which digs 14 to 18 feet deep. He uses whichever size touches bottom and matches the depth range he is fishing. His favorite colors include Citruce and Foxy Shad.

Horton also dotes on the Fat Free Switchback Shad. This is essentially the same bait as the regular Fat Free Shad, except the bill has been shaved to give the crankbait a more subtle action. Horton has customized the Fat Free Shad in this manner for years. Bomber finally included this modification in the Switchback.

Horton used a Citruce No. 7 Fat Free Shad and Switchback Shad when he fished mussel beds during an Elite Series tournament in June 2008 at Kentucky Lake. These baits dredged up huge sacks of bass, including a 24-pound, 11-ounce limit on the final day to give Horton a second-place finish with a total weight of 83 pounds, 12 ounces.

If the bite slows on a mussel bed, Horton cleans up with a Carolina rigged lizard or a 10-inch worm if he's on big bass. In grassy lakes, such as those in Florida, the grass that grows around mussel beds latches onto diving crankbaits, making them less effective. This is when Horton ties on a lipless rattling crankbait and rips it through the grass to trigger reaction bites.

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Fishing the shell beds is the easy part.  Actually locating them is the hard part.  You have to really watch your sonar graph.  Your looking for a hard bottom with a 3-6 inch softer bottom on it.   Usually they should be in  an area with some moving current.    the spot might be as small or smaller than your boat to slightly larger depending on where you are.    One thing that I am trying to do is locate someone around here who mussels and have them show me a few so I can run over them with my 997c si and see exactly what shows up when I know for sure there is one down there.  there is  an older gentleman that I knew who I should  have got more info from years ago before he passed away but you just think they will be here forever I guess but he had a brother who musseled for a living.  the old guy fished in an old flat bottom catfishing rig that most "bass fisherman" wouldnt be seen in.  it had a 40 horse Johnson with the stick handle drive on the motor.  no steering wheel.  country river folks know what I mean.  anyway he caught more  small mouth than anyone I ever met.   turns out that he would follow his brother around the river and he knew where all the active shell beds were.  when they were active the small mouth would follow the brother also.  he said they would be all around him down there scoopin in to catch craws and stuff that he would stir up while he was gathering the muscles.  pretty kool.  wish I had spent more time listening back then.  

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