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Buoyancy Equals Bites

I recently competed in the B.A.S.S. Eastern Open on the James River, in Richmond Virginia. My practice time and tournament time was focused on the Chickahominy River arm off the James River. I have fished this river system before and typically find the fish positioned close to the bottom around shallow cover. This time however, I found the fish were positioning different around the cover. What I found helped me locate fish during my practice and then catch fish during my competition days. I believe what I found during this tournament can help you catch more fish as well.

During my practice days, the extreme heat had the water temperatures climbing above 90 degrees. This seemed to slow the fish down and make bites difficult to get consistently. While practicing I noticed that most of the bites, I got were from fish that were suspended. Bass suspending during the hot summer months is not anything new, but I had not experienced bass suspending in this shallow of water as most of the fish I located and caught were in less than three feet of water. Typically, when fishing this shallow I expect the bass to be on the bottom and buried in the available cover. As I explored the various creek arms and drains of the Chickahominy river, I began to realize every bite I had was up off the bottom and I discovered the fish would react best to a bait presented up off the bottom. In short, they wanted to feed upwards.

If you have fished any of the great Z-Man Fishing Products Elaztech baits before, you are familiar with how durable they are and how buoyant the Elaztech material is, but are you taking advantage of this buoyancy? What I mean by this is, are you incorporating the buoyancy of the Elaztech baits into your bait presentations? Not just using the buoyancy to stand the bait up, but rather using it to float or glide your bait through the water column.

Early in my practice I was fishing more traditional bottom-oriented presentations. I was fishing with a black blue flake Hula StickZ on a Power Finess ShroomZ weedless jighead around laydown cover and cypress trees.

I also was fishing a Junebug colored Bang StickZ Neko rigged with a Neko ShroomZ head around grass lines and drop shotting a Junebug 7" Finesse WormZ around grass lines, docks, and cypress trees. All these presentations would generate some bites, but not enough to make me feel like I could get five keepers a day with as tough as it was fishing. When I realized the bass were suspended where I was fishing, I changed how I was rigging and presenting my Elaztech baits to take advantage of the inherent buoyancy and create more bites.

I changed my Hula StickZ rigging from the Power Finesse ShroomZ weedless jighead to a Finesse BulletZ jighead. This allowed me to glide the bait more through the water versus hopping it along the bottom. When I started doing this, I started getting two to three more times the bites as I was before the change. On the Bang StickZ, I removed the Neko ShroomZ head and fished it weightless and let it slowly drift with the current and the same thing happened. The number of bites I was getting at least doubled with this presentation versus how I had been fishing it before on the bottom. The drop shot also yielded the same results. I lengthened the dropper from around 6" to 12" and would allow the bait to sit motionless for a few seconds between rod movements. With this change the number of bites I was getting increased threefold.

These presentation changes were slight, but by making these changes I was able to take better advantage of the buoyancy of the Elaztech baits and keep my presentations higher in the water column. This greatly increased the number of bites I received and allowed me to catch a limit each day of the competition. I didn't win by any means, but I did have a respectable finish and continued my move up in the points standings. Next time you are out fishing your favorite Z-Man Plastics, think about all the features they have and how you can apply those to your actual presentations. Any way you fish Z-Man Elaztech Plastics will catch fish, but if you take full advantage of all their designed features, you can catch more fish.

Z-Man Ambassador

-Jeff Lugar

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