This month, I want to focus on a category that is becoming more popular every year, swimbaits. While this is a very diverse category of lures that can work from deep to shallow and in all seasons, swimbaits are often underutilized in the prespawn & postspawn periods. Try them on bass that stop chasing spinnerbaits or crankbaits and you’ll often catch a lot of fish and some big ones, too.
During the prespawn and postspawn (January through May on Fork), fish swimbaits around structure and cover near spawning areas—basically any place you’d fish a Rat-L-Trap or a spinnerbait. Top areas include main lake and secondary points, along deep or inside grass lines, and along creek channels running through spawning flats.
While working swimbaits, the basic spinnerbait and crankbait presentation principles still apply. When fishing around wood cover, run your lure into stumps and through laydowns, pausing momentarily after making contact with the cover. Most bass will hit either on the pause or once the bait starts up again. In grass, make sure you’re getting your bait deep enough to tick the top of the grass. When your lure starts to tangle in hydrilla or milfoil, give it a sharp snap. Many of your bites will come as the swimbait rips free. Low stretch lines, like P-Line Fluorocarbon or Spectrex braid, make snapping your lure free of grass a lot easier.
The swimbait category has exploded in recent years and there is a wide variety of sizes, profiles, and depth ranges to choose amongst. Look in any tackle store and you’ll find everything from tiny shallow running shad, crappie, and bluegill look-alikes to 12” rainbow trout clones that weight 7 ounces and run 30’ deep. Whatever the application you have, there’s likely a swimbait designed to do it. Personally, I’ve been having great luck with Lake Fork Tackle’s new Live Magic Shad. It’s a brand new swimbait/soft plastic jerkbait hybrid with phenomenal swimming action. The Live Magic Shad is currently available in 3.5” and 4.5” sizes, with a larger 5.5” size coming shortly.
I rig the 4.5” Live Magic Shad on a 4/0 extra wide gap hook Texas style, just like you would rig any soft plastic jerkbait. Lay the hook point in the slot on the top of the bait and skin hook it back into the plastic, making the lure totally weedless. I prefer weighted hooks with a 1/16th to 1/8th oz weight in the keel or “belly” of the hook. This will make the bait run true at higher speeds, while also allowing you to retrieve it deeper to hit the tops of the hydrilla. To reach deeper grass or for bass that are suspended, try rigging the Live Magic Shad on a short Carolina rig. Use a 3/8 to 1 oz sinker and a 12 to 18 inch leader of P-Line CXX fluorocarbon leader material. Cast out this rig, count it down to the desired depth, then reel it back in with a few pauses during the retrieve. Lighter weights work better for slow rolling the bait, while 1 oz weights work best for fast retrieves in deep water. The smaller 3.5” Live Magic Shad will work well for pressured bass when fished like the 4.5” version. In addition, using it as a trailer for spinnerbaits and jigs gives unique action to your old standbys. They’ll also give a different look to bass while rigged on 1/8 oz jig heads or on drop shots.
pressure will be at its most intense levels on Fork in March. Show those
pressured bass a swimbait and I think you’ll enjoy the results. Here’s
hoping you catch the lunker of your dreams. If I can be of assistance,
please contact me at 214-683-9572 (days) or 972-635-6027 (evenings) or
e-mail me through my website,