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Suspended Bass Tactics

August in the Mid-Atlantic region can be hot and the bass fishing in the area lakes during the day slows up as the majority of the bass are no longer in the shallows or they leave during the day to suspend. If you have spent much time fishing for suspended bass, you know they can be very challenging to catch. Some days you can catch a few fish by calling them up to the surface, or they may school on top, but the bite is usually very short lived. Once they leave the surface, or are no longer willing to come up for a bait, you have to go after them. This is where a simple technique I have learned can really help you catch those suspended fish.

The most reliable technique I have found to catch suspended bass is to swim a Z-Man StreakZ 3.75" right through or slightly above the suspended fish. This presentation will catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass with surprising results. For this technique I will use a Dobyns Champion Extreme 702 SF spinning rod paired with a good quality size 20 spinning reel. I will spool the reel with 10# Gamma Torque braid and then tie on a 6# Gamma Edge fluorocarbon leader. If the conditions are calm, I will rig the StreakZ 3.75" on a light jighead such as the 1/15 oz Finesse ShroomZ head. This combination will allow me to reach fish down to about 15' deep. The lakes I am fishing may have shad, blueback herring, or alewives as the primary forage so I will have a few different colors of the StreakZ 3.75" ready to use. My top three colors choices are the smokey shad, blueback herring, or the deal colors.

This is not a technique to get aggressive with and you can actually overfish the bait if you get too aggressive. This idea is to present the bait in a natural manner to the fish. The finesse aspect of the technique and the natural presentation of the bait is what I believe triggers the suspended fish to bite. To catch these suspended fish, I look for the baitfish on my graph. Once I have located the baitfish and I have estimated what depth they are holding at, I will cast out the StreakZ 3.75" and count the bait down to the depth of the baitfish. I have found the 1/15 oz Finesse ShroomZ head paired with a StreakZ 3.75" will sink at just under 1' per second. While counting the bait down to the desired depth I will watch my line to make sure it has not stopped sinking or started sinking faster. Any change in the sink rate means a fish has taken the bait. You will want to pay attention to your line as the bait sinks because a lot of the bites will come on this initial fall. If no bite has occurred on the initial fall, I will slowly and steadily retrieve the bait back to the boat. You do not want to put extra action in the bait. The slow steady retrieve is what the fish will react to. I will repeat this presentation as I fan cast around the area where I am seeing the baitfish on the graph.

If the wind is hindering the presentation or the baitfish are deeper than 15', I will rig the StreakZ 3.75" on a 1/8 oz Trout Eye jig head. The presentation using the Trout Eye jig head is the same as with the Finesse ShroomZ head, cast the bait out, count it down to the depth of the baitfish, and then slowly retrieve the bait back to the boat. If the wind / wave conditions are too much to allow for the 1/8 oz Trout Eye jighead to get the bait down to the desired depth, chances are the fish are more aggressive and I will look for other ways to catch them.

Don't let the simplicity of this technique fool you. The slow fall and the natural presentation of the StreakZ 3.75" gives the bass an easy meal they usually won't resist. Experienced anglers and newcomers alike can have great success with this presentation. If you like to mix things up a little bit, you can also substitute other great ZMan Fishing baits like the Finesse ShadZ, MinnowZ, or the Slim SwimZ with this technique.

Jeff Lugar

Z-Man Pro

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