BassWestUSA - November/December, 2009, Page 47

Elite Smallmouth

for Suspended Bass

two of the most dreaded words in bass fishing are “sus- pended bass,” then two of the most revered words must be “drop shotting.” In today’s arsenal of fish-fooling tech- niques, no lure presentation works as well when bass are deep. Kotaro Kiriyama has turned deep drop shotting into an art form and won hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money using the technique, and the lessons he’s learned can be applied wherever bass hold in deep, in between water. “Suspended bass have always been a problem in bass fishing because we did not have an effective method of showing a lure to them,” explains Kiriyama, 38, now relocated in Moody, Alabama, where he’s a fulltime competitor on the Bassmaster Elite Series. He won the 2008 Elite on Lake Erie by drop shotting more than 93 pounds of smallmouth all suspended at least 30 feet down over water 60 to 80 feet deep. “When bass are suspended too deep for a crankbait or jerkbait, the best way by far to catch them is with a drop shot,” believes Kiriyama, “because you can control its depth, the rate of fall, and the amount of lure action, and still have a very natural and realistic presentation. During that Erie tournament, I used different lures and different weights, so my presentation was always changing, sometimes after only two or three drops.” “Changing like this is important in clear water where bass can sight-feed, and I’m sure they become accustomed to seeing

Drop Shotting

the same lure all the time. This is really true with smallmouth. I’d catch one or two bass on the same spot, then nothing. I’d change lures and sinkers and catch another one, then nothing, so I’d change again. During pre-practice, official practice, and the tournament itself, I caught over 1,500 smallmouth, and changing lures, colors, and weights were always critical.” An even more basic problem has simply been locating sus- pended bass. Today’s latest electronics have helped solve that, but suspended bass relate not only to baitfish but also to structure, cur- rent, oxygen, water clarity and temperature. They move, too. After you find them one day, there’s no guarantee they’ll still be there the next day. At Erie, Kiriyama’s bass moved every day, sometimes 400 yards from where he’d caught them the day before. Bass are liable to suspend anytime, even on impoundments like Alabama’s Lake Guntersville that has abundant shoreline cov- er and offshore vegetation. The most commonly accepted theory of why bass suspend is that they’re following forage, which itself is following plankton. The plankton, in turn, also moves as it gets washed by wind and wave action. Kiriyama also believes one of the biggest misconceptions about drop shotting is that it only works when your sinker is on the bottom. In truth, drop shotting works wherever the sinker is. In the Erie win, his sinker never touched bottom the entire week.

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Photo by BaSS Communications - Seigo Saito