By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Every bass angler would like to know the best way to catch big females that are moving from the spawning grounds to their deeper warm-weather haunts. There may be no definitive answer, but tour-level pros all have particular applications that have worked for them.
One of Brandon Palaniuk's favorites is throwing a glide bait – in his case, the Storm Arashi version. The single-jointed swimbaits with sweeping side-to-side action can entice the oversized sows who are eager for a substantial meal in the aftermath of the reproduction process.
"Those fish are kind of hungry as they come off the beds, but a lot of times they won't pay attention to traditional lures," he said. "There are times when a glide bait can trigger a response from them."
He said the depth range for this technique usually ranges between 4 and 10 feet, as the traveling post-spawners' first stops usually fall within that span. If the summer hangouts aren't far from the spawning flats, the big ones might initially go deep to recover, then come back to that range to feed up.
"The best thing to knowing where to throw it is to know where fish were spawning and then go backwards from there out to where they're going to spend the summer. If it's a place that's unfamiliar to you, you can look at a map and try to identify the larger spawning bays and flats.
"The first place to try is where the contour lines steepen back up, like creek-channel bends if the place you're fishing as that kind of thing. Sometimes it's where a flat turns into a steeper bank – any transition can be good."
Be Ready for a Hard Pull
Palaniuk said that glide-bait bites from big fish are often violent and it's important to have a rod that'll withstand the shock. He uses a 7-foot-9 Alpha Angler Wide Glide (extra-heavy action, fast tip).
His reel is a Daiwa Zillion HD with a 7.3:1 gear ratio and he spools it with 20-pound Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon.
"I'll go up to 25 if I want the bait to sit higher in the water column, but very rarely will I go lighter than 20," he said. "It's a pretty small-diameter line."
It's also imperative for the bait to approximate the color of the primary forage fish, whether that be bream, one of the various species of shad, blueback herring, etc.
The Storm Arashi Glide Bait measures 7 1/2 inches, weighs 3 1/8 ounces and comes in nine colors.
Palaniuk will throw a glide bait around docks, laydowns, riprap banks – whatever type of cover is available in the transition area.
"For me, it's all about fishing those ambush points and approaching them in a way that allows the bait to come over or through the strike zone where they're going to be sitting."
Speed is Variable
Palaniuk retrieves the bait with three-quarter turns of the reel handle, which maximizes the gliding potential. He said his pause between turns probably averages about a second, but can be twice that or half, depending on environmental conditions and the mood of the fish.
He gives it slight pulls with the rod, then pushes the rod back toward the bait to impart the slack that produces the side-to-side motion. On laydowns, he'll work it in and around the limbs by shortening or lengthening the pauses between turns.
"Don't be afraid to speed it up," he said. "If you have the right glide bait you can burn it so it tightens up and swims straight, but still has the sideways kick, and that can be good at this time of year. You just have to make sure you don't have one that's going to roll over and blow out on you."
As for the ideal conditions, he likes sun and at least a bit of wind.
"The sun seems to position the fish better and the wind breaks up the surface and makes them a little more aggressive. The wind can turn the followers into fish that want to commit."