BassWestUSA - November/December, 2009, Page 48

When fishing for suspended bass, the sinker’s only purpose is to pull the bait down to the fish, not to hold it in one spot as a sinker on the bottom does. He used both 1/4 and 3/8-ounce Kanji X-Metal weights to vary the fall rate. On his electronics he could see both the bottom structure and the baitfish over it, which told him where to posi- tion his boat. Just as importantly, he could also watch his lure as it fell to the fish, prob- ably the most critical part of drop shotting for suspended bass when your sinker is not going all the way to the bottom. If the smallmouth did not hit the bait as it fell, he closed his bail to stop it just below the baitfish. Because the water was so clear, he did not shake his rod to move the lure – current created the lure’s action that ninja Champion for him – and he only left it in place for about 10 seconds before reeling up and drop- ping again. When a bass hit, he never felt the strike, he simply saw his line stop and begin moving away. “You have to be able to see your lure on your elec- tronics to know when it’s at the proper depth,” empha- sizes Kiriyama. “Counting the

iriyama Kotaro K

lure down is not always accurate because various weights and lures fall at different rates. And, if you’re fishing light line in deep water, like my seven-pound-test Gamma fluorocarbon, you’re not going to feel a big strike. You have to watch your bait on the graph and also your line on the surface. If your line starts moving, you need to set the hook.” When he does strike, he moves his 6’10” medium-light Shi- mano Final Dimension spinning rod in a sharp upwards fashion while speeding up the retrieve of his Stella spinning reel, this ac- tion allows him to quickly and firmly penetrate his Owner hooks into the bass. Even though Erie’s water is extremely clear and the smallmouth tend to suspend very deep, the rules remain the same whether you’re fishing Shasta, Powell, Champlain, or any other res- ervoir where the fish suspend; change lures and presentations, and don’t worry about giving fish a long look at your bait. Normal water movement, combined with natural hand movement should provide all the action you need for your lure. At Erie, Kiriyama used three Jackall lures, a Cross Tail Shad, a 4-inch Super Pintail, and another prototype with a thinner tail. The Super Pintail is a heavier lure in which only the tail vibrates on a drop shot whereas the Cross Tail Shad is lighter and its entire body vibrates. He fished all three lures in variations of watermelon, green pumpkin, Ayu and shad colors. “In my experiences with suspended bass across the country, understanding the bait itself has always been one of the most important elements,” explains the Alabama pro. “For example, some, like threadfin shad, don’t like current, while others, like goby, don’t always try to get out of moving water. “If you know just some of the characteristics of a lake’s primary forage, it can provide clues on where bass might be and how they like to feed. At Erie, the Goby were right on the edges of the mov- ing water, over or slightly behind the bottom structure (rock reefs) that provided a slight change in water flow.” The depth at which bass are suspended can also provide clues as to how they might want a lure presented, according to Kiri- yama. In deep water situations, triggering reaction bites with fast-falling lures often works well, especially in clear water, verti- cal presentations may be used. In dingier conditions, such as those he usually encounters on Logan Martin Lake near his home, bass suspend much shallower, often about 10 feet down in 30 foot depths. Here, he uses a slower-falling lure, such as Jackall’s Flick Shake worm rigged wacky style, and casts to the fish to avoid spooking them. Cross “Fishing for shallow, suspended bass Tail Shad is a totally different game,” Kiriyama notes, “because these fish may be relating to bait or to cover, and they frequently move to the bank later in the afternoons. Instead of a drop shot, a plastic worm, grub, jerkbait, or crankbait is much easier to use, and sometimes you can even bring them up with a topwater lure. When he’s searching for suspended bass in deep water, however, Kiriyama usually searches for structure and baitfish simultaneously. One way to do this is by searching for an “activity zone, a general depth baitfish and Superpin-Tail thereby, bass are using. Just by idling out of a cove and into deep water, baitfish will start to show up on the electronics, and after a few minutes of study, it should become ap-

Photo by BaSS Communications - Seigo Saito

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November/December 2009