When the fish shut down from feeding, people regularly talk about ‘throwing their tackle box’, continually changing lures and retrieves until they find that one lure the fish are willing to take. This is something that I have definitely done before and this approach does take up valuable time. Probably more often than not I have been unsuccessful doing this, sifting through my boxes to find the magic lure, coming up completely empty handed.
Last weekend, I managed to sneak in a few hours chasing some bass in Western Sydney with good friend Aaron Horne. Late in the session when the tide turned, as far as Aaron was concerned the bass were pretty much going to go off the bite. Like clockwork, the number of fish came to a grinding halt. The techniques we had been using all afternoon and on previous occasions didn’t raise the slightest interest. What Aaron suggested next intrigued me. He had spoken of it before but without seeing it in action, I wasn’t entirely convinced. I have to say now though, although it does sound plausible, it actually worked. How he came to realise this technique I don’t know, but it provides an interesting angle to the term ‘Team Fishing’.
This technique isn’t so much about what lure you need to be throwing to catch the fish or what retrieve will entice the fish, but rather it is more about ‘waking up’ the fish, getting them into a feeding mood or at least make them think other fish are feeding. It is a natural human reaction that if others are onto a good thing, you too wouldn’t mind a piece of the action. So the question to be answered is what did we do that switched these shutdown fish back into a feeding mode?
Bass that are actively feeding on the surface make a very distinctive series of chopping sounds as they attack and feed on their prey. Simply, using a dual approach, Aaron would use a Megabass Anthrax to replicate the sound of feeding bass chopping at the surface of the water. Casting out he would let the lure sit for a moment or two before a series of two or three quick rips across the surface, similar to working a popper. He would let it sit for a moment then repeat. The theory is that other fish in the area would hear the ‘chop, chop’ and think other fish in the area are feeding. Meanwhile, I would cast in closely behind Aaron’s lure with a beetle-spin or unweighted plastic hoping that any jealous fish would quickly and aggressively strike at my lure.
To be honest, I was a little doubtful but Aaron was adamant this is a technique he has used many times before when trying to activate a bite from shy bass. I wasn’t disappointed, I actually caught more fish in this part of our session, they weren’t the big fish we were catching earlier and it probably helped that Aaron had his lure in the water to wake the fish rather than reel them in.
To some extent this is similar to the switch baiting technique we have used for bream except in this case it is done without knowing if fish are in the area. It’s definitely worth a try and makes me think of team fishing in a new way.