Last week I noticed another fisherman who was consistently catching schoolers. The fisherman was Larry Baker. Baker used to fish in the Jacksonville Bass Club and is a good fisherman.
That day Baker was primarily fishing one lure – a four-inch white fluke. He rigged the Fluke on a 5/0 hook and worked the bait just under the surface with subtle twitches and pauses. I like to use a twitch, twitchy pause retrieve. You may need to experiment with the retrieve. At times they want a long pause between twitches. At other times a rapid retrieve works best. You have to experiment.
Baker said, “I started fishing at 3:00 a.m. and caught five bass on a worm. Then I switched to schooling bass. I kept fishing until I caught 30 bass.” (He quit at 1:00 p.m.)
In July there were a lot of bass schooling early, but now the prime time is between 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. On cloudy days they tend to school longer and better.
So what is the best bait to use when targeting schoolers? That’s for you and the bass to decide. Experiment with top water baits and underwater baits. Try fast moving lures and slow, subtle lures and let the bass tell you what they want.
Whenever a school disappears, I like to pick up my rod and fish a fast sinking lure like a lead head, Fluke or a grub. At times a Crème, three-inch swim bait will suffice. If you’ve got lots of patience a drop shot rig will work. I use a six-inch Aaron’s Magic worm on this rig.
No bait works a hundred percent of the time. I’ve noticed that bass become very picky after about an hour or so of schooling. They are not hungry but you will get reaction strikes. I have seen days when bass were very active and would strike a variety of lures. But this doesn’t happen very often. That’s why I always have a half dozen baits tied on every time I go to the lake.
You always have to experiment. But on any given day there is always one lure that will outshine all the others. As a fisherman your job is to experiment and find that one lure. Good luck!
Jerry Miller can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org