Blue bird skies, no wind to speak of, water like glass, it’s like something out of a postcard. This morning you got a few bites but it’s now noon-time and the bass have, what we affectionately refer to as, lock-jaw. After hours and hours of pounding the edges of trees and docks, frustration starts to set in. What can be done in order to catch these fish, you know they are there but they just won’t bite. After fishing the majority of my life I’ve experienced these frustrations, you know where they are, just can’t get them in the boat. Don’t fret my friends, there may be a solution. An underutilized and overlooked technique that has provided many a day where I’ve caught fish, and my fishing partner hasn’t. What is it? Skipping.
So you’ve found the structure, but every other cast your flipping your bait off a branch, or dragging it off the top of the dock, subsequently dropping it a foot off the edge, and not hauling in any ‘hawgs.’ Well remember skipping stones as a child? You would throw the stone and it would essentially bounce off the water, traveling a great distance based on how hard you threw. Same basic principle. Grip the rod, and execute a sidearm cast. While doing it, keep the eye of the rod just above the water’s surface and like swinging a baseball bat, mid way through the cast give the wrist a nice little flick. Now this isn’t easy at first, but with some practice it can work wonders in the location of your bait.
Well the bait is now in the location it’s meant to be and you’re catching fish. Why? There are 2 key reasons, other then location, why I believe this technique is so effective in filling the livewell. The first, is the reaction to the bait. You’re a bass, your sitting under a tree, minding your own business when something comes bouncing across the top of your head, instinctively you react to it as a defense mechanism, much like a human swats at something coming at their face, without thinking.
The second reason I feel this is a very effective technique is the dominance factor. When a small fish is struggling for life, they flop on the surface. When a small fish is running for their lives, they skip across the surface, we’ve all seen it happen. This is a direct mimic of that. How many times have you approached a shallow cove, or been casting and you see minnows bouncing off the surface trying to get away from something? Generally, it’s running trying to escape a would be predator.
Now this technique can be a lot more difficult without the right tackle and gear. I have found it most effective with spinning equipment, but that’s because I grew up doing it that way. It can be used, with practice, with baitcasting as well. You’re going to need a relatively stiff rod to the get the proper flick of the wrist, and relatively light line so you get enough of a ‘free spool’ for it to work well. I also have the most benefit from skipping when I’m using soft plastics, weightless, texas rigged, but have had a success pretty much any time I do it. With a little bit of practice it can produce a lot of bites, in areas most people cannot get access to, and when you do it, be ready because on more than one occasion, the fish has the bait before it gets inches under water. Tight lines and Good Luck.