KAYAK KORNER- TIME TO GO DEEP
Most guys I know love to fish shallow. It’s fun, and, in general, easier, as long as the fish are there and willing to bite. Sometimes that bite is just after dawn and after sunset in the heat of the summer, but guys still give it a try. The truth is, as soon as the spawn is done, bass do just as you did when you played pick up football with the neighborhood kids- they GO DEEP. As a matter of fact, bass are often in the absolute deepest spots after they spawn. Guys who take that to heart are the ones that will be on good post spawn fish- the ones that are fun to catch and will win tournaments.
The combination of post spawn recovery, and the need to escape the rising water temperatures as summer approaches, naturally drive fish offshore. The whole progression shows you how interlinked nature is. The forage is on the move also. Shad are ready to spawn, bluegills too. They are collecting on points more than usual and a bass lurking in the deep has a good ambush position for those tasty treats. How deep the fish move depends a lot on water clarity and temperature but if there are drop offs anywhere in the 15-30 ft range where bass can run in shallow and grab a quick meal and beat a smart retreat to the deep- those are the first places to look for them. It is definitely not unusual to find bass in 25 or 30 feet of water at this time of year as bass can go anywhere in the water column they want because the water is well oxygenated at the various depths. Bottom line, the fish will be wherever they can find food, structure and favorable temperatures.
The key to finding deep water bass over much of the country is to locate the areas where they just spawned and work your way out from there. Turn on your electronics and start looking around long points that run out to deep water or drop off into a creek or river channels. Paddle or pedal around until you see fish on the screen. I don’t cast until I know they are there. Occasionally, the fish I see on my sonar are not bass, but time spent with your electronics will help you learn the difference. Plus, you can always learn by catching one of them. White bass will often nip at a lure and just as with perch, you’ll be missing pieces of plastic. If they’re catfish, you’ll see what looks like water droplets just hanging on your line above the lure- a sign that you’ve been slimed.
My most recent trips have shown the shallow bite to be getting tougher. Kayak anglers need to be prepared for this, because kayak anglers, especially beginners, aren’t always equipped to fish offshore. Certainly pedal drive helps, but for someone who has not prepared, offshore fishing can be difficult. However, a little bit of the right knowledge, and some cheap, yet crucial, equipment can help you find fish away from shore. The first thing you need is a good anchor. There’re days when there’s nothing but wind on that hump, or deep end of a point you want to fish, so an anchor, and trolley system is critical to hold the proper position on a spot. I'll start shallower on the point in the morning, maybe hit a few grassy areas or pitch some stumps with a Texas rig, and work the bed areas with a moving bait like a bluegill colored swim jig, or jerkbait. As the morning moves on, I move out, and start checking the point starting at the shallower end and moving deeper until I find what depth where they’re holding. Some of my favorite baits to use are Carolina rigged swimbaits, drop shot worms, or a shakey
head. A football jig works great if there's a lot of rock on the point. If I get on a good bite, and it suddenly shuts off, I move a little deeper and work the sides of the point. I will also work secondary points close to shallow water.
As spring moves into summer, the depths of the lake becomes more attractive. If the fish are truly done spawning, then they'll be following the bait. There are some common mistakes when it comes to offshore fishing. I see a lot of anglers start to fish a deep water point or drop without first seeing fish on their electronics. That’s a mistake that can cost you a lot of time. If you’re not seeing fish on your sonar, they’re probably not there and you’re fishing empty water. Another common mistake is to fish on the bottom when the bass are actually suspended well above the bottom. Again, let your electronics give you the full picture. It’s very common for bass to hold 8 or 12 feet above the
bottom. If you choose a bottom-bumping lure to catch these fish, the only bites you’ll get are when the bait falls through the school and one grabs it. That’s not a good percentage approach.
There are a lot of baits that work for deep water fish. The first one I will have tied on one of my rods is a shad imitating swimbait on a ½ to ¾ swim jig head. The weight will depend on the wind. You can count it down to the level of the fish and bring it right through the school. The next bait I’ll have ready is a ½ to ¾ football jig with a trailer to match the hatch. This is a great choice when the bass really are on the bottom. Lastly, have a couple shad pattern crankbaits ready that will work the different depths in the area you have chosen. At least one should be able to get down to almost 20 ft and then one should be good at working half that. As the season progresses, don’t get stuck in the shallows, give deep water a try and dial them in to #LiveThePassion!
The angler behind Kayak Korner, Zachery Warren, from Denison TX, is a carpenter. He works to build houses while teaching young people who have faced challenges to not only learn a trade, but also learn to fish. Zach has become a well known competitor on the Texas and Oklahoma Kayak Bass Tournament scene and has become increasingly competitive. He holds the Largemouth Bass record on Oklahoma's Durant Lake- an 11.3 lb. monster. He is pro staff for The Reel MVPs baits and is a frequent contributor of Kayak Fishing articles to the iBass360 blog.