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Video: Bass Pro K-Short's Secret Winter Baits Revealed!
Greg Huff, NAFC Social Media Editor
NAFC Staff Blogs
If you’ll be fishing Southern impoundments this winter – especially in the Ozarks – you can fit all the bass baits you need in the palm of one hand.
I got an up-close look at those baits late last month while fishing Lake Oauchita with Mayflower, Arkansas-based bass pro Kevin Short.
An impoundment of the Ouachita River nestled in the stunning scenery of the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, Lake Ouachita – home to the 2007 and 2011 Forrest L. Wood World Cup competitions – consistently ranks in the top 10 nationally for largemouth bass fishing.
Short knows Oauchita well. His hometown is only a little more than an hour away, and he’s fished numerous tournaments on the lake at several tour levels.
Fab Four Baits
So when Short told me the keys to catching winter bass on Ouachita, I didn’t regret leaving my tacklebox at home.
“Three or four different baits is about all that you need in the late fall, wintertime, down in Arkansas [and] Missouri,” he assures me. You could literally put all the baits that you need to catch fish down here in the palm of one hand – and go out and catch some fish."
His Fab Four are:
Jewel Pro Spider jig with Zoom Ultra-Vibe Speedcraw
XCalibur XRK75 One Knocker
MegaBass Ito Vision 110 jerkbait
4.Strike King KVD Square Bill 2.5
To see Short in action, hooking bass with these tactics,
watch the video
we shot during our excursion.
(Note: This blog continues below the video player, so keep scrolling down to continue reading)
Leaves Of Grass
After embarking from the marina at our fancier-than-this-country-boy-is-used-to digs at Mountain Harbor Resort, Short pulls from his rod locker two St. Croix 6’ 8” medium-action, extra-fast tip casting rods, ties on a XRK75 and a Strike King 2.5 and we start scouring main-lake structure for spots still holding healthy, green grass. There’s not much grass in Ouachita any more, but when you can find some, he says, you usually find bass.
“Try to find some hydrilla, some milfoil, something out around the main lake, the mouth of the main-lake pockets, or the creek channels [where] they run off the main lake, right at the mouth,” he advises.
The water temperature is 62 degrees on this late-November day. We’re buffeted with a stiff wind as we begin casting our crankbaits, and we’ve got high, blue sky with clouds in the distance. The mountains were soaked with rain for two or three days prior to our excursion, and the gusty, post-front conditions won’t make for a slam-dunk bite, to be sure.
My timing on this trip is a little off as well, although in this case, it’s not the classic “should’a been here yesterday,” but rather a “should’a come in mid-December,” as that’s when the bite really picks up again. That said, we’ve decided to approach our day on the water like a Workin’ Joe, weekend angler would – a guy that has one day off to fish and goes no matter the conditions.
“The conditions might be better on Monday, but you’ve got to work on Monday – you’ve got to find fish today!” Short says, getting into the mindset we’ll be working from.
As a tournament angler fishing for a living, he routinely faces a similar challenge – you fish on tournament day, come hell or high water, or miss a chance to make a check.
Much to my surprise, I’m the first to hook up, loading up the St. Croix fiberglass rod on what feels like a pretty decent largemouth that fell for the 2.5. Unfortunately, you’ll have to take my word on that one, as I failed to ensure that my drag was properly tightened and that fish came unbuttoned as I madly reeled as line peeled off with the fleeing fish, unrestricted by drag friction.
Nothing like a little Amateur Hour matinee in a pro’s boat!
Who knows, maybe I loosened the drag when I whacked an XRK75 on a PowerPole whilst in my backswing on a cast, shattering the thing into a million pieces … Whoops. Since when did they start putting Power Poles on the back of boats … ?
Talk about Amateur Hour …
Unphased by the XRK75’s destruction and my drag fiasco, Short keeps working the main-lake-grass pattern. After we fail to connect while circling an exposed hump dotted with great structure and intermittent grass, we decided to punt on the main-lake pattern and head for the back of a creek. The crankbaits will remain on the deck for now, to be joined with rods outfitted with Jewel Pro Spider football-head jigs.
Up A Creek
Short guns the Bass Cat across the main lake for a few minutes, then slows to an idle as we enter a creek mouth, keeping an eye on his Lowrance HDS8 until he sees something he likes about two-thirds, to three-fourths of the way back into creek.
“We've found a little creek-channel bend,” he tells me. Across Arkansas, southern Missouri and eastern Oklahoma, “that is very important in the fall, winter, into the early Spring – is a creek channel.”
He likes this particular channel bend, because its near a submerged bluff top dotted with cedar trees, has a significant drop-off from the bluff into the creek channel, and features some variation in the rock on the bottom
“It's like a smorgasbord for the bass out here in front of them. …" he says.
“If you can find that, man, that can be gold. There will be fish around that somewhere.”
Shad School In Session?
But not all creek channel bends produce, Short cautions. The key to finding “the right creek channel,” is finding schools of shad. So after you’ve located a channel bend, make a couple of passes through the area, monitoring your electronics for signs of the baitfish.
“Because I promise you … when you find those shad, that's where you need to start fishing, and I bet you'll get bit.”
After putting away the crankbait rods and committing to the football head jig, Short boats a 12-inch spotted bass.
Before too long, a 16-inch largemouth takes the Jewel jig as well.
Once he’s determined that fish are “pretty much tied to the bottom” – by bites and/or what he sees on his electronics – Short goes switches from crankbaits to his football-head jigs.
“Whether the fish are suspending out into creek channels, whether they're up on top of the drop – they could be relating to different types of rock up on the bank – that's going to [determine] what I'm going to throw," he explains.
“Like what we're fishing right here – the top of a little bluff that falls off into the creek channel right in a bend – then I'm going to go to my [7/16th oz.] Jewel Pro Spider jig.”
The Jewel jig’s small profile and subtle action make it a “great cold-water jig,” Short says. He pairs it with a Zoom Ultra-Vibe Speedcraw trailer, or some type of twin-tail trailer in simple, natural shades that match available cover. Today, he’s throwing a color called Peanut Butter-Smoke.
“If there's wood, I want something that if it's laying on a piece of wood, it almost disappears,” he explains. “I want something that, if I throw it up on the bank and look at it down there in the water, it almost melts in, it almost disappears into the bottom. I think that's pretty important with your jigs, particularly in the wintertime.”
Jigs mimic crayfish. And crayfish mimic their surroundings.
“If you find a crawdad, any time of the year … first thing you're going to notice is that dude is the same color as the bottom,” Short says. “And I've always felt like that should be the way that your jig should be.”
If strictly natural shades are not producing however, Short will slightly tweak his trailer tips with a few stripes from chartreuse or orange marker. The claws are always a little bit different on the crawdad.
What A Jerk … Bait
We stick with the football jigs, each of us hooking up a few more times before the shadows begin to lengthen and we have to pack it in. We’re due back at the marina at 3 p.m.
If Short had seen bass suspended on his electronics, he says, he would have started the day throwing a suspending jerkbait, like the MegaBass 110. That bite, however, has not quite turned on yet on this late-November day.
“When the water temperature gets down into the 40s, upper 30s, this right here is the king,” he says, holding up a 110. “There's been days where I've gone out with absolutely nothing but two St. Croix 6-8 medium extra-fast casting rods and a box of these. Because I know that's what they're going to bite."
Quite The Handful
Setting the 110 on his deck, he pulls out the baits we started the day with.
"When I'm fishing different kinds of rock, going down the bank chunkin' and windin,' I'm going to throw either a lipless crankbait, like this little XRK75 one-knocker [in a red, crayfish pattern], or I'm going to throw a little square-bill like this Strike King 2.5 [in a red, crayfish pattern], or an old Storm Wiggle Wart. … I'm going to have both of 'em tied and I'm going to throw both of 'em during the day."
He cuts a football jig off a rod and picks up the 110, XRK75 and the 2.5, cupping all four baits and hefting them slightly as if gauging their combined weight.
"I've got pretty much I need to fish right there in one hand."
Friday, December 09, 2011 11:03 AM
An entertaining and, at times, amusing article. I enjoyed it very much.
PS Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours !
NAFC Social Media Editor
Sunday, December 11, 2011 10:30 AM
Thanks wharris! Merry Christmas and Happy New Yers to you as well! -- Greg
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