BREAKING RADIO SILENCE ON STEALTH-MODE BASS TACTICS
By Jason Haley
Pardon the pun, but not wanting to give up any competitive advantage on the lake, this is something I’m normally quiet about.
Have you ever heard a conversation from halfway across the lake because every angler in a boat seems to be yelling? Me too! It often involves beer, but not always. Then there are the bassers – including some of the most experienced ones I know – who bang the sides of the boat, slam lids, throw the trolling motor down or rattle through tackle at precisely the wrong times.
But does any of this really matter when it comes to improving your catch? You’re darn right it does!
Bass are dumb, right? Well, yes and no. In a private pond that gets fished once per year, perhaps you’ll get the best of a gullible opponent. But there’s a reason why long casts often work best, particularly in clear, pressured water. Bass – especially the big ones – usually feed best when everything around is totally natural. They’re accustomed to human presence followed by artificial food sources plopping down and rattling by. The bigs are usually caught when all is just right and a choice cast is made.
This is what I call my approach. It’s acting on the hunch that the attractive spot I’m coming up on holds quality, active bass. I cut the big motor well in advance of the shoreline to avoid waves, lower (not drop) the trolling motor slowly and quietly, then close the distance. I start on high speed before switching to low speed to avoid alerting any fish.
I want my first cast to slide in rather than plop. Hooking a fish on the outside of the school might require touching the trolling motor a few times during the fight to avoid drifting directly over the sweet spot.
As I work my way in and around, I’m careful to speak in normal or even quiet tones. One partner started taking my cue and whispering. I could barely hear him, and that may have been a little much. The key is to just avoid yelling, even if you’re all jacked up on morning coffee.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Quiet is not as critical in deep or even dirty water, as noise can actually help bass find your lures. But it’s essential when sitting on top of fish in shallow, clear water. If you’re fishing the back of the boat, never rummage through your tackle bag and change baits while your boater is slipping up on their A-spot. You may catch a few smaller fish, but it’ll generally be game over for the big one your partner was stalking. I’ve even noticed small waves lapping against the side of the boat can adversely affect bites. There’s not much you can do about boat traffic or breezes, but watch the fish turn on as soon as that noise dissipates.
Of course, mistakes do happen. You’re going to kick something, drop the pliers or rattle the Pringles can. But while ringing the dinner bell can get you in a biting mood, it just never seems to work on bass. CS