Setting Up, The Bass Fishing Techniques Performance Reward

In the first two bass fishing techniques, Florida style, we pulled along grass edges, either in shallow water hydrilla or drifted open water. These first two techniques helped us find concentrations of fish. Now we’re going to set up on these spots or, simply put, anchor.

You’ve seen them, on T.V., anchor up and toss shiners, with balloons as floats, to the cattails. This is an excellent way to fish heavy cattails and bulrushes. The balloon offers a good visual on where the shiner is and does not restrain him from maneuvering through heavy cover. When you do hook up with a fish, the balloon usually breaks leaving only the knot to bring back through the reed or cattail stalks.

While this is an excellent example of the bass fishing technique, setting up, it’s not the only way it’s used. I keep referring to these methods as Florida bass fishing techniques because, although effective, you rarely see them used elsewhere in the country. This is due primarily to the Wild Golden Shiners that are only found in Florida waters and are the main diet of the Florida Largemouth Bass. Add to that the nature of the shallow Florida lakes and the fact that we’re fishing live bait makes these techniques almost exclusive to Florida.

Okay we pulled along a good line of shoreline grass, reeds and cattails or we drifted open water hydrilla beds and found good concentrations of fish. We used these first two bass fishing techniques to find the fish and now we’re ready to set up on them.

In open water, where you found a concentration of fish, set your boat up on the upwind side. Try to anchor a good cast above the school. Take into consideration that the boat was moving when you dropped your marker buoy. Don’t position the boat as if to cast to the marker buoy. If you do you’ll probably be setting on top of your fish. Try to visualize where you dropped the buoy in relation to the first strike. Then anchor the boat a good cast above where that strike came.

The bass fishing technique “pulling” is a great way to find fish on grass edges. This can be cattails, reeds but more often Kissimmee grass. After making a few passes on a line of grass and you keep getting bit or catching fish in one particular spot, this is where you want to set up. Anchor the boat a good cast out from the grass edge. Don’t anchor against a grass edge and cast parallel to it. You may be spooking the fish and the ones you hook up with will use the grass to their advantage and bury up in it…game over! Kissimmee Grass is like wire and when a fish gets too deep into it, they’re not coming out.

When you anchor out from the grass this gives you the opportunity to pull the fish out and fight him in open water and increases your odds of landing him or her. If the shiner keeps swimming out into open water, it’s probably because there’s a big pair of eyes watching him. If you have to, cast your shiner just inside the grass edge to get him tangled so he can’t swim out, and wait. Give him a good chance to tease something (BIG FISH?) into eating him. If your shiner swims back and forth parallel to the grass or just up to it…perfect! Keep enough tension on your line to stop him from going into the grass. If you have the patience and can wait the fish out, they will eventually come out and eat. A Florida bass cannot stand a free meal dancing just a few feet from their nose.

As stated, setting up is anchoring on any structure known to hold fish. It could be:

  • Open water hydrilla
  • Shoreline grass
  • Isolated offshore reed island or cattail stand
  • Bare spot in an otherwise heavy hydrilla growth
  • Pepper grass patch
  • Isolated patch of hydrilla

In the examples given above, the last one “Isolated patch of hydrilla” is more common than not. After the hurricanes of 2004, a lot of the lakes, in central Florida, had their hydrilla ripped completely out. Some of the best bass fishing was immediately after the storms, when you could find a ball of green hydrilla on an otherwise clean bottom. These have since died off leaving nothing. Since hydrilla can lie dormant for years in a lake bed and then suddenly sprout up, you can occasionally find isolated clumps. These are bass condos and need to be examined thoroughly.

  • Only use balloons when fishing cattails & reeds
  • Limit the size of your balloon to just a little larger than a golf ball
  • Put ski rope floats on your anchor lines so you can release the boat to go after snagged lines or buried up fish. This allows you to return to the same exact anchoring spot. It keeps you from having to pull anchors and then going back through the anchoring procedure again, disturbing your fish
  • Use styrofoam floats in open water. Less hassle than retying balloons each time they pop.
  • Only use a Weedless hook when fishing shoreline grass like, kissimmee grass, cattails and reeds. No need in hydrilla.
  • Always leave your reel in free spool even if it does not have a clicker. Leaving an engaged unattended reel could be costly $$$!
  • Always mark your spots on your GPS. Even if you know exactly what the spot looked like, you may be surprised by a morning fog.

In summary, this bass fishing technique is the bonus earned from properly performing the “pulling” or “drifting” techniques. This allows you to concentrate all your efforts on one known location where the fish live. You’ve done the fishing part and now it’s time to do the catching!

These are the spots that I narrowed down and took my customers to when guiding. After a while, the fish will move and then I will go back to the first two bass fishing techniques, pulling and drifting, to locate new concentrations of fish. These are what you refer to as “Honey Holes”!

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