The bass just lay there flapping on the deck, its gullet spilling out two small shad.
Eric Smith looked down and then verbalized his observation.
“I’m going to downsize a bit,” the angler said.
Smith then picked up a Mister Twister Poc’it Shake’R and sliced off a portion to match the size of the regurgitated baitfish.
“This will get us more bites,” Smith said.
Attaching the cutoff lure to his drop-shot rig, he again cast into 22 feet of water near the creek channel on Toledo Bend.
It wasn’t long until yet another scrappy bass was caught, photographed and released.
“The bass are all over the shad in here,” Smith said.
Smith, a 37-year-old angler of Erath, Louisiana, visits waters in Louisiana and Texas often for both recreational and tournament quests for largemouths.
It was late fall and the temperatures had dropped to the mid-40s – the first real cool front of the year.
Brutally cold weather was forecast due to the current El Niño, but such had yet to develop as a constant weather pattern.
As a result, Smith and southern bass anglers were enjoying an extended 2015 fall season catching lots of bass – a blessing due chiefly to the balmy weather.
Cold or not, bass have to eat.
For the most part, they’ll be chasing schools of shad, the young of the previous year’s spawn.
In fall and winter, these baitfish have a tendency to migrate to deeper portions of channels in reservoirs and river systems, and there the bass will be.
Describing dropshotting solely as a cold-weather tactic is entirely misleading.
Bass anglers use this tactic quite successfully even in the spring and summer in southern waters.
It can be described as “finesse” fishing only insofar as the tactic appears to assist in detecting deep, delicate bites.
When dropshotting, Smith will be watching the sonar closely, as the angler has developed a good eye for differentiating signals between schools of shad, crappie and lurking largemouths.
Smith’s drop-shot setup is common, and he employs this technique on a 6-foot, 9-inch medium Duckett spinning rod with an Okuma spinning reel spooled with 10-pound Seaguar Invizx fluorocarbon.
The angler first ties his fishing line to a 2/0 or 3/0, thin wire, wide-gap hook with a palomar knot. The angler leaves enough of a tag end (12 to 18 inches) to tie a cylindrical 97 Tungsten weight.
Before the weight is attached, he will first run the tag end back up over the top and insert it through the eye of the hook thus allowing the hook to stand straight out.
On the end, the angler then ties on one of a variety of sizes of 97 Tungsten cylindrical weights ranging from 1/8 to ¼ ounces.
He’ll then rig a Poc’it Shake’R using a color relative to the quality of the water.
“I’ll start by using the entire Poc’it Shake’R ,” Smith said. “But once I see the size of the baitfish I’ll cut it to match the length. I’ll always hook the part with the tapered end as it allows for more action.”
In reservoirs such as Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn, Smith will locate fish close to creek bends, river channel bends and in the interior of the main creeks.
Using heavy tackle and hoisting largemouths from dense cover or moderate depths are part of the deep south bassin’ tradition – even in the dead of winter.
Again, “winter” can be a rather brief period of cool weather in the south compared to the months of severe cold experienced north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
“Bass in the winter will relate to current and current breaks in rivers regardless of the time of the year,” Smith said.
Smith remembers winning a cold-water tournament in a river system when fishing a Santone jig with a Mister Twister Poc’it Craw trailer put 19 pounds of bass in his weigh-in bag making for some winnings.
“If I can find structure to provide a break, I will be flipping jigs,” he said. “And in the winter, I’ll spend time targeting the structure located near deeper water.”
“I worked with Mister Twister by using prototypes of their new Buzz Bug,” Smith said. “It is designed to provide a lot of action either as a Texas-rigged bait or as a jig trailer.
“It has worked extremely well as a swim-jig trailer and attached to a chatterbait,” he said.
“Like the Poc’it Craw, it’s a big fish bait.”
Smith’s power-fishing tackle for fishing grass mats and heavy cover includes 7-foot, 9-inch extra-heavy Duckett rods with Duckett 360 reels spooled with 60-pound Seaguar Kanzen braid.
You can also find more information about all Mister Twister quality lures at www.mistertwister.com.