Jacksonville Daily Progress
The bass have been schooling big time on Lake Jacksonville for the last two weeks. The largest of these bass range from two to three pounds with an occasional four-pound bass.
Timing is everything. One morning I caught bass from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Then they shut down. That’s when I reverted to fishing brush piles and skipping baits way under docks. My best bass caught under docks this month weighed almost six pounds. That bass struck a clear/green glitter, three-inch Tube.
About 11:00 a.m. that same day I started motoring toward the dam and spotted a big school of bass out in the middle of the lake. My best lure that day was a Nichols’ Pop-U-Lure, white with a blue back. Each school stayed up long enough for me to catch two bass before they disappeared. They kept coming up for about another hour.
Later that week the weather cooled off and the humidity dropped. The next day David Nichols and I were on the lake at daylight. We caught a few small bass up shallow between boat houses. At 7:00 a.m. I spotted the bass schooling out in front of Pavletich’s place. In a few minutes we were hotly pursuing schoolers.
On this day the bass never quit schooling. The lake slicked off and we could see bass schooling everywhere. That day the bass were more reluctant to hitting top waters, so I switched over to a 1/4 oz. lead head hook with a disco color Fluke. The disco color has green flakes and is a new color. The bass ate this lure up. At times I could run the bait through the school on top and get hit, but the majority of the time I let the bait sink down to a count of 10. Then I began to hop the lure back to the boat. After each hop I would let the bait settle back down to 10 feet or so. It seemed that most of the bass were suspended in the 10-foot range.
Nichols continued to fish his chrome Pop-U-Lure through the bass on the surface while I fished the Fluke. The very best action is when the bass first start schooling in the morning. When the sun starts getting up higher in the sky the top water bite is on and off. At times it helps to speed up the Nichols’ Pop-U-Lure. At other times I have good luck on a walk-the-dog type bait like the XPS Slim Dog or Zara Spook. I often work this bait very fast and erratic.
Whenever the schooling subsides on top I use my electronics to spot bass that are suspended and lower my drop shot bait into that depth. For several days I found the bass suspended out over 35 to 40 feet in the 15-foot depth. Once I spot a school of bass at this depth on my trolling motor graph I immediately drop a Robo worm in an Aaron’s Pro Magic color into the school. On a good graph you can see the worm as it descends and immediately stop it at the right depth. With this technique your bait stops directly in front of the bass. Strikes are immediate. I use the drop shot as a last resort because it’s a lot more fun catching bass on top waters.
Jerry Miller can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org