BASSIN’S A BUZZ
Ripping spinnerbait through the shallows is often a great way to cash in when the light is low.
by Steve Morgan
Tim Morgan’s breath condensed in the dawn chill as he explained to me the technique. With a snap of the wrist, the lure traced a low trajectory and skidded to a halt in some recently flooded grass, but before it had time to sink the few inches to the bottom, the line was tight and the spinnerbait traced an immediate line back towards the silently moving boat in the dawn shadows.
Tim pitches it right up between the trees.
Another whoosh of the rod and the threadline delivered the same presentation twenty feet further along the bank. Nudging lily stems and weeds aside, the spinning blades’ wake dimpled the surface in a line mirroring the lure’s track through the underwater vegetation, finally breaking free into a clear pocket of water.
“Sometimes the very instant the lure clears the weeds, it’s nailed,” Tim explained after the tandem 1/4 oz gold bladed lure negotiated the danger zone unmolested, “and other times it gets smashed the moment it splashes down.”
Judging by the speed at which he was covering the bank, it seems as though Tim was having as many rolls of the dice as possible. He was showing the fast retrieve to the most fish possible in this prime time and seeking the most active of fish.
“When the sun’s off the water, bass will hold in shallow water, often only a foot deep,” he continued, “especially when waters in a dam are rising.”
As if illustrating the point, Tim’s spinnerbait disappeared in a rolling boil on the very next cast. The drag protested briefly before the fish buried him in the thick Elodea weed. Using the MinnKota to chomp his way into the weed, Tim grabbed the shock leader and pulled the fish free. At 38 centimetres, it was a run-of-the-mill Maroon Dam fish and was quickly released into the livewell.
“Half way to a limit,” Tim smiled.
Judging by this early success, the other half wasn’t too far away.
Bringing another one onboard, to tally up
Although fast-retrieve baitcasters are suitable for this style of bassing, Tim prefers a high-speed threadline coupled with a rod that’s easily used one-handed.
On this occasion, it was a Quantum Energy threadline with a 5.8:1 gear ratio, spooled with 6lb fused GSP and a medium action Browning 6’ rod to match. The terminal end was simple, with a short double attached to a 12lb fluorocarbon shock leader with a modified Albright.
Tim prefers a tandem blade setup to a single- or double-Colorado.
“The tandem can be ripped a little faster than the double-Colorado, and it doesn’t blow out of the water as easily. In clear water like this, that’s a bonus. I want instinctive strikes,” he says.
Scanning the shallows, I notice the bottom, six feet down, is quite visible.
“In dirtier water I’d use something more noisy, and I’d slow down the retrieve a bit to let them find it.”
HORSES FOR COURSES
Although it takes only a couple of minutes to land the other half of the limit, Tim admits that the technique’s not always a winner.
“I stuck to this technique in the 1999 BASS Grand Final and it let me down,” Tim admits, “and I now realise that while buzzing spinnerbaits brains bass when the water’s rising, a stable water level wasn’t the right place to be buzzing….. But that’s bass fishing.”
“Buzzing can work well whenever the sun is off the water and the bass are hanging shallow. Obviously, dawn and dusk are prime times.”
What are Tim’s favourite spinnerbaits for buzzing? Bassman’s and Kokodas from 1/8oz to 1/2oz with shiny blades.