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Creature Baits for Pressured Susky Bass
By L.O.U. guide, Danny Grulke

Who could argue that Mizmo tubes, rigged on RAB jig heads, will produce bass under most conditions. The Rapala X-Rap jerk baits also produce big bass--but what happens in those situations  when those baits just aren’t getting the job done like they normally do? Give up! Not an option. Get discouraged. Won’t help you catch fish. Solution; Try something different.

There are two different scenarios in which I will choose a critter/creature bait before a tube or jerk bait. The first scenario is during normal to high-flow water levels, when fish that have been severely pressured and are located in easy to find places (like shoreline eddies). Typically, after a week or two, these fish know the colors of Mizmo tubes better than your average angler and can become very picky and refuse even the most delicately presented tube. Often a change in lures and tactics is just the ticket to getting pressured fish to bite. In this situation I prefer to use a Case Plastics Lil Sweet Pea (3 ¾ inch) creature bait in the Road Kill Camo color. I rig this bait on a ¼ ounce, RAB Jig head and use Sufix Siege, 8lb test, low-viz green. The rod you select is very important for this presentation. I use a medium-heavy action rod (rated 1/4oz -3/4oz or close to it) that has a fast action tip (bends in the upper third of the rod before it gets into the “back-bone” of the rod). I predominately use Gator Rods, constructed on St.Croix blanks, the same blanks that I use to build rods with. This type of rod allows me to work the bait erratically over the bottom, a different approach than dragging a tube, in a hopping motion, like a fleeing crawfish--with the slightest of twitches. The sensitivity in this type of rod allows me to feel the lightest bites and has the power to punch the hook through the tough mouth of a smallmouth bass when the time is right.

The second scenario; low water conditions, usually the end of April, when the “grass beds” are visible.  During this time on the Susquehanna River, the bass are often located in the down-current eddie of that grass bed (actually a summer-flow island) that we call a Bowl. Since these are obvious targets the bass are easy pickings and often get “pressured”.  As a result the fishing can become tough and the bite non-existent. In this case I use the same equipment but I go to a lighter weight jig head (1/8 oz). This allows me to work the bait without getting hung-up on the bottom since the flow of the river is slower and the depth not as deep.

The next time you are having difficulty catching “pressured” fish try a creature bait and please remember to practice “catch & release”. Photograph your fish, handle them gently, and release them quickly. Please contact LOU Guide Danny Grulke (703-389-3508) to book a trip, for tackle/equipment selection advice, seasonal fishing opportunities, and questions or comments about this article.