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Shallow Water Bass

By Bob Jensen - June 1, 2010
When largemouth bass move into the shallows early in the fishing season, the action can be fast, it can be visual, and it can be some of the most exciting fishing you'll have all year. Here's how you can get in on this action.

Depending on where you live, bass may have already been in the shallows, they could be there right now, or they could be in deeper water waiting for Mother Nature to tell them it's time to move shallow. Across the Midwest they are probably shallow now, or will be shallow very soon. They go shallow to spawn. After spawning some will stay shallow, others will go back to the deep water for awhile to recover from spawning, then return to the shallows to get something to eat. Regardless of what they've done, when they are shallow this time of year, we can often get them to eat our bait.

In some bodies of water you'll be able to see the bass swimming around in the shallow water. This is when you've got to be quiet: Even a little noise will spook them and discourage them from eating your bait. Shut the outboard off before you enter the shallows and use your electric motor to get you into a fishing position. This is when a quiet electric like Minn Kota makes will be a big aid in getting fish to bite. It will enable you to move around without alerting the fish to your presence. Don't give the motor any sudden bursts of high power: That will let the fish know you're around.

Make long casts. Again, long casts will help prevent the bass from knowing you're in the area. Lots of baits will trick shallow water bass. You could throw a spinnerbait or buzzbait with success, a topwater will fool a few, and a swimming jig will also work. But if you really want to catch bass, it's going to be real tough to beat a Gulp! or PowerBait Jerk Shad or a PowerBait Slug.

A shallow water bass won't be able to resist a Slurpies Jerk Shad or Rock-R-Minnow either. If you're fishing water that doesn't have a lot of cover, rig your soft bait with the hook exposed.

However, the best water is going to have some cover and maybe a lot of cover. A weedless presentation will be best. Either rig the bait with the hook point in the bait, or rig it Wacky Style with a weedless Lip-Stick Wacky Worm hook with no weight. Make long casts and watch the worm. Sometimes you'll see the bass eat it. If you see a bass in the water, cast in front of it. Don't drop the bait right on the fish, because you'll probably spook it.

Many anglers like to go with a no-stretch line like FireLine for this presentation. 40/10 or 30/8 is about right. For many anglers, this shallow water bass bite is about as good as it gets. In the right situation you'll have frequent action, you'll see them take the bait, and you'll get some big ones. You've gotta agree, that's about as good as it gets. Find out for yourself in the next few weeks.

Author Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen is the host of the Fishing the Midwest television series, a series of television fishing shows that highlight fishing locations and techniques throughout the Midwest. He also writes a syndicated fishing column and does fishing seminars throughout the Midwest. He is a former fishing guide and tournament angler. Visit Bob's web site at
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