Freshwater: Buzzbaits for Largemouth Bass - The Fisherman

Freshwater: Buzzbaits for Largemouth Bass

Bruce Litton caught this nice bass on a black buzzbait
The writer caught this nice bass on a black buzzbait fished in the thick of a weed bed. (Matt Litton photo.)

Hit the shallows before they get too warm for some spectacular topwater action.

Buzzbaits remain effective for largemouths as yet, just before the summer slump when during the day, plastics prove their worth. They won’t always work, but when they do, hold on, because big bass hit them.

On a small local lake last June, my son and I enjoyed catching half a dozen nice ones on dark-skirted buzzbaits during a bite that lasted about a half hour. Surface chopped, a little sunlight on it, Matt noticed an approaching cloud bank. We had just begun with plastic worms at a spot proven in the past but got no takes, so he suggested we try pulling buzzbaits over the weed bed we faced, instead of continuing to fish depths of its edge. We began hooking up immediately, catching bass from nearly 2 pounds to over 3. Matt took a hit from what could have been mistaken for a small hippopotamus, and then repeatedly cast back to the pocket where the bass had exploded. I put my rod down to watch, but nothing happened. I felt sure it was the biggest we’d encountered there yet. We covered a lot of weed-bed acreage quickly, the prop of the electric motor positioned high as we probed pockets and open lanes during the mildly feverish bite. When the hits stopped coming, we went back to worms, hooking a few more bass deeper, but working for them. Water temperature at 71 and 72 that breezy day, whether or not water will be in the 70s does depend in June on the weather, since searing heatwaves happen and drive temps into the low 80s, but opportunity for success remains likely by trying tactics like buzzbaiting appropriate to cooler temps. A strong breeze means the aquatic environment underneath—particularly in the shallows—gets stirred up, and instead of predatory bass feeling skittish, as prey do, they tend to be active, especially if a frontline bears down.

On past occasions, I’ve experienced action on spinnerbaits under sunlit chop during May and June when fishing weeds not very close to the surface. Buzzbaits afford the advantage of staying on the surface when you fish thick stuff without much water above their reach. Some of that stuff is right at the surface, so steer a buzzbait to avoid reeling in a mess. Pockets prove worth the chore.

If you own an appropriate casting outfit, it goes without saying that your thumb on the spool will advantage accuracy in setting a buzzbait down lightly right on a target, but medium/heavy-power, fast-action spinning rods combined with 2000 series reels loaded with 20-pound braid do the job. You need that heavy braid and backbone of the rod to turn a big bass from the thick, and although some of us use heavier test than 20, at least so far, I’ve found 20 sufficient; I admit I would hate to learn the hard way.

Most of my local lakes have weedy flats, but when venturing to lakes less weedy than timbered in shallows bass jumped all over my topwater plugs. Buzzbaits more or less snag proof, they’re suited to such timber fields perfectly. Don’t hesitate to try very shallow water. I once hooked a bass of about 5 pounds in water so shallow its back broke the surface as it rushed my offering—water less than a foot deep. Just don’t get stuck on any one spot or type of spot among weeds or timber. Let the speed of retrieving a buzzbait cover range as you search.

On that day last year, we weren’t connecting in the deeper weeds just before we found bass in shallows of 3 to 5 feet, but when the bite died, we got hits as deep as 15 feet on the worms. This didn’t necessarily mean the bass vacated the flat for deeper water. We could have continued to fish those shallows with plastics, but given the amount of acreage, the task felt daunting, compared to fishing at a slow pace along the bottom edge of weeds where bass gather in more predictable numbers.

Take advantage now of water temps lingering in the 70s. Soon the early and late bites will have to do. Fast action in the middle of day is exciting, and you won’t likely experience it through the summer ahead.

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