By: Henry Schomaker, Bass Utopia Contributor
In all of the fishing situations, there is one that many anglers do not particularly like. That situation is when the bass are suspended. This usually occurs in the summer months, and many times the fish are chasing food, such as shad or herring. Usually when the fish are following schools of bait, they are suspended over deeper water, main lake humps, and points. Bass will also suspend in shallower water, many times under docks and on and around bridge pilings. Many anglers use their electronics, in the deeper water situations, to catch suspended bass vertically, but I have found that in very clear water or on high pressured lakes this does not work well. Fishing in the state of West Virginia on it’s small, clear, and high pressured waters, I have developed a way of catching these suspended bass.
When doing this technique I go as finesse as possible. First, if fishing a lake I am not too familiar with, I idle threw spots that might hold suspended fish, and mark them on my Lowrance (many times, if I know the area, I will just make blind casts to locations that I know always hold fish.) Then using a light action Dobyns spinning rod and 4 pound test fluorocarbon P-Line I make long cast to these fish with a drop shot. The way you rig your drop shot is the key though. I usually start out with a 2 ½ - 3 foot leader (go shorter or longer), and tie a 1/8 ounce Eco Pro Tungsten drop shot weight (usually going lighter if needed), making changes according to what the fish tell me. For a bait, I use a small straight tailed shad-like bait, I prefer a Lake Fork Trophy Lures Baby Shad. The straight tail and light weight gives the drop shot a slow gliding fall, which the bass cannot pass up.
I fish this drop shot a lot faster than most people do, which I think is key, because it allows me to cover more water. What I do is basically power fish a drop shot. I usually make casts either paralleling a bank or to a spot, and just let it sink to the bottom. Once it hits the bottom, I pick up on my line and give the bait a couple twitches, and if a bass has not taken the bait I reel in and make another cast. If I am in really deep water 60 feet and up, I just allow my bait to sink about ten feet past where the fish are holding. When bass are suspended, they position themselves looking up, your bait being on the bottom does you no good. Most of the time the fish will bite this drop shot on the fall, or they will follow it to the bottom and bite when you first pick up on the drop shot. I think of this technique like trout fishing in a stream. Trout will position themselves looking up stream for food being washed down by the current; therefore, you must cast in front of the trout to catch it. Once your bait goes by and the trout does not follow it, there is no need to continue fishing that cast, you need to reel in and make another cast up stream.
This technique has proven effective in many different parts of the country. I have caught smallmouth in the North on Lake Erie and Lake Champlain on open water, largemouth in Virginia on Smith Mountain Lake on main lake humps and on docks, and largemouth and spotted bass in Arkansas on Lake Dardanelle and Degray Lake on points, over deep rock, and brush piles. You must really pay attention to how the fish want this presentation. The length of your leader for the weight and the size of the weight are key to dialing this technique in.