Although Brandon Palaniuk of Hayden, Idaho, is only 30 years old, he’s earned more than $1 million fishing for bass. Brandon shares his knowledge about finding and catching spotted bass.
Although most tactics that professional fishermen use are to catch largemouth bass, when you’re fishing for spotted bass, especially in clear, deep water, you must use a finesse technique. Oftentimes in the late summer and fall, in many sections of the country, droughts may occur. Under drought conditions, the lakes usually will clear up, and the spotted bass often will move deep.
When you want to catch spotted bass in the fall, most of the time they will be structure-oriented and holding close to deep water. They like to hold in and near brush piles and sunken tree tops. Spotted bass like to suspend more than largemouth bass do. You can often locate spotted bass in 40-70 feet deep, especially when the water is clear.
My go-to bait under those conditions will be a drop-shot rig. I’ll most likely have a C3Edge-colored Zoom Trick Worm on a No. 1/0 VMC Finesse Miko hook. On the bottom of my line, I’ll generally have a 3/8-ounce tungsten sinker and will be fishing that drop-shot rig around any structure on the bottom that I can pinpoint. I’ll be using 15-pound Seaguar Smackdown braided line, and I’ll tie that line to either a 6-pound or an 8-pound test Seaguar Tatsu 11-foot-long fluorocarbon leader. If the bass can see at 15-25 feet deep, you’ll need a long leader. I want to get right on top of the bass with my electronics and drop down to the level where the spots are suspended.
Another technique for catching deep spotted bass is to fish a swim bait through the school. I’ll use a 1/2-ounce or a 3/4-ounce jig head and put it on a 4-inch Tennessee Shad-colored Zoom Swimmer, a hollow-bodied swim bait. I’ll count the bait down to the depth of water where the spots are holding and fish that lure very slowly. Often you’ll find spotted bass schooled-up, and you may catch several bass out of the same school.