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Saltwater Swimbaits for Freshwater Bass

By Rob BelloniJuly 5, 2000


Until Byron Velvick set the new BASS two day record this year at Clear Lake on basstrix swimbaits, most bass fisherman on lakes without trout probably weren't very interested in swimbaits.  Since then there has been a lot of interest, but one thing that has gone largely overlooked is the effectiveness of smaller "saltwater style" swimbaits. Swimbaits that are deadly on calico bass, California halibut, white sea bass, and a host of other ocean critters, and as I found out during the summer of 1999, they can be deadly on largemouth bass!  I made this discovery on a whim one day during the doldrums of August.  I knew the fish were holding in 15 to 20 feet of water but they weren't biting my cranks like earlier in the year.  The banks had been pretty well pounded by the summer crowds and I needed something to get down there, stay down there, and show them something they hadn't seen before.  So I brought my saltwater boxes to my home lake one cooking August day in 1999 and when a 3 pound bass nailed my 5 inch big hammer I realized I might be on to something.  You can read the original report from that great moment of inspiration here. The next day seven more nice largemouth confirmed my suspicions on an afternoon when the locals reported having to wait until right at dark for some top water fish.

Since then I've refined my technique to the point where I have as much confidence in my swimbaits as I do my traditional bass baits like cranks and topwater.  I've drawn much from my experiences fishing saltwater but I've found that there are some techniques that are definitely unique to freshwater bass fishing.  It's also been necessary to scale down my tackle, as 9-foot plastics rods are a bit unwieldy in a bass boat!  So lets talk about throwing the rubber for largemouth bass.

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