Bill Siemantel is the shrewdest thinker I’ve
ever met, which is a good thing to be when you specialize in catching
giant size fish.
Indeed, the barrel-chested San
Diego firefighter has arguably caught more monster bass than any other
human being on earth. At last reckoning, the body count included 300
largemouth bass over 10-pounds, 41 over 13-pounds and 12 over 15-pounds.
while the sizes of Siemantel’s fish are staggering, it is how he thinks
that will impress you the most. When most other anglers rock, Siemantel
rolls. When they zig, he zags. And while his best selling book, Big
Bass Zone and video Swimbait Techniques focus on bass, the concepts and
theories that he espouses are applicable to giant muskies, northern
pike, walleye, lake trout and salmon as well. Ironically, maybe more so.
Siemantel’s philosophy on selecting lures to match the forage upon
which the big fish are feasting. Most anglers reckon they have completed
the job when they determine that the walleye are stuffing their faces
with smelts, the bass are dining on crayfish or the muskies are gorging
The more progressive may even believe they’ve
taken the task a step further if they can subsequently match-the-hatch
with a hard-to-find, custom-painted lure that looks as though it will
swim out of your hand at any given moment.
is all fine and good as far as it goes, which isn’t very far the way
Siemantel sees things. “If you look like one,” he says as we chatted at
the ICAST show in Las Vegas, “you better behave like one.”
is a brilliant concept that most anglers fail to consider. For what
Siemantel is saying is that it is not enough to select a lure that looks
like the bait the fish are eating, you have to make it behave like one.
take big northern pike as a great case in point. Giant ‘gators are
ambush predators that like to cozy up along the outside edges of deep
weedlines and behind large boulders and pounce on their prey. So you’d
think it would be good enough to throw a natural looking lure in areas
like these and start reeling in the trophies. Not so.
to Siemantel, looking good is only skin deep. As you retrieve the lure
along the weedline you have to make it behave like the herring, smelt,
whitefish or walleye it truly represents. That means as you swim it
nonchalantly toward the most prominent point sticking out of the
weedline – where a prodigious pike is most likely to be lying – you need
to make it suddenly and erratically change direction and veer it away
from the ambush spot as though fleeing in fright.
to the point, Siemantel suggests you should retrieve the same lure
differently, when you’re fishing it in open water, on the surface, in
the middle of the water column or close to the bottom.
he says, how a baitfish swims when it is alone in the middle of the
lake. Now, imagine how that same baitfish behaves when it is a member of
a huge school. Out on a stroll by itself, it swims in a lazy straight
As the member of a much bigger
school of baitfish that you’ve marked on your sonar screen, however,
that same baitfish will be darting and dashing erratically, all over the
place. The very same baitfish, behaving naturally, but in a completely
Siemantel says giant size fish
are tuned in to recognize these differences and to attack – or avoid –
our lures accordingly. And the best anglers capitalise on these
differences. With more double digit bass to his credit than anyone else
on earth, Siemantel has the results to back up the theory.
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