Spinnerbait guru Charlie Ingram is one of the best shallow-water fishermen on the pro tour. He knows that proper boat control is vital. “I’m always amazed how some guys operate their boats in shallow water,” Ingram says. “They seem oblivious to the fact that the bass is a wary predator, and that you’ve got to approach it with caution to avoid putting it on red alert. Sound travels far more efficiently through water than it does through air, and I guarantee the fish will hear you coming if you aren’t careful.”
You don’t want the fish to hear you coming, do you? Good. Then follow these five pointers from one of the best in the business.
TOP FIVE TIPS FOR SHALLOW-WATER BOAT CONTROL
1. THE TWO CAST RULE
Many anglers roar into a shallow fishing area, drop their trolling motor with a loud clatter and start casting before their boat’s wake has subsided. “I’ll cut off my outboard at least two long cast lengths from the area I want to fish, lower my trolling motor quietly, then set it on a constant medium speed until I’m within casting range of my target,” Ingram says.
2. STEADY DOES IT
“Avoid changing trolling motor speeds or hitting the on/off switch repeatedly in shallow water," Ingram says. "Bass quickly become accustomed to a constant sound, but an intermittent or fluctuating sound signals that danger is approaching.”
3. TRIM UP YOUR OUTBOARD MOTOR
Before entering the shallows, trim your outboard motor up just enough so the lower unit’s skeg isn’t dredging bottom, Ingram advises. “The skeg acts like a rudder, so don’t trim it all the way out of the water, otherwise your boat will fishtail in the wind and be harder to steer with your trolling motor.”
4. ELECTRIC MOTOR SHAFT
Your electric motor’s shaft should be raised as well: “The motor banging bottom and the prop kicking up mud will send shallow bass running for deep water.”
5. USE THE WIND TO SLICE-CAST
The wind is a key factor dictating how Ingram positions his boat when spinnerbaiting. “I’ll point the boat’s bow into the wind so I can slice-cast the lure to my target and retrieve it so it‘s moving downwind at a slight angle," Ingram explains. "Bass will face into the wind because they instinctively know that wind creates currents that wash injured baitfish to them. Retrieving the lure downwind gives it the realistic look of a crippled shad struggling in the water.”