Mossy Oak Fishing Team Member Brandon Palaniuk of Hayden, Idaho, is ranked No. 3 in the World by Bassfan.com, has bass fished all his life and fished professionally for the last 8 years. Palaniuk has faced most of the problems many of us encounter when we go on a body of water to try and catch bass. If you’re a tournament angler, you can identify with Palaniuk as he answers the question, “Brandon, if you’re fishing a tournament and only have 15 minutes until you must return to the launch site for the weigh-in, but you don’t have a keeper bass in your livewell, what do you do?”
I’ve been there and done that. Or perhaps the situation is where you’re one bass shy of the limit. This very broad question has many answers, due to the various situations and possible answers. However, I think that most of the time the biggest thing I’ve learned in this predicament is that you can’t get in a hurry and attempt to force a bass to bite. Very rarely will you get a bite, if you’re rushing through your cast and working your bait faster than you should. You still need to fish that lure thoroughly in the area you have to fish. If you’re on a short time limit, you must be efficient with your casts and the ways you work your bait, stay calm and remain focused on catching that next bass, rather than focusing on how much time you have left to catch that bass.
My lure selection for this task either will be a: jerkbait, usually a Rapala Shadow Rap, a crankbait like the Storm Arashi Silent Square 3 or Square 4 to fish shallow water, or a spinner bait in a 1/2-ounce Molix Venator. When this happens, I go into a power bait mode to cover an expanse of water quickly and fish the lures thoroughly to find an actively feeding bass. If I think I’m in a productive area, I may remain where I am and continue to fish there. However, if I’ve been in that region for a while and haven’t received any bites from bass, I’ll leave that place and run to a section of water that’s closer to the boat ramp, since I know I’ll have to make that run anyway.
Once you’re close to the ramp, you can push the time you stay on the water longer for when you have to check in with your bass. I’m the kind of bass angler who likes to fish all the way until the last possible moment I can fish before check-in. I guess the bottom line is if I’m fishing an area where I’ve caught bass previously, I’ll stay with that spot. But if I haven’t caught any bass there in some time, I’ll pull up my trolling motor, crank up my big engine and run to an area I’ve located earlier that looks productive and is closer to the boat ramp.