Swim Bait Bassing

Swimbait's are not just for West Coast anglers to throw at trout gorging bass. I've found that the are dynamite on the East side of the country as well.

It was pitch black out and I could barely see the lure at the end of my line. I made a long cast with the heavy bait and it splashed down in the middle of the small pond. I started a slow steady retrieve with my Calcutta 51. I could feel the bait throbbing as I slowly ticked the tops of the bottom growing weeds. I almost got lulled into forgetting I was even fishing and when all hell broke loose. My rod tip pulled down sharply and I instinctively snapped it back up. I had a good fish on. I battled the largemouth to the edge of the floating grass and managed to snake it over the obstructions. This one would go about 6 pounds and would be on par with several other bass I took earlier in the week at this same location. Did I mention the air temperature was 39 degrees and I was bank fishing? So is Winter swim bait fishing in Florida. 

I’m not quite sure how I got on this kick but for whatever reason, I began religiously chucking swim baits in November of 2005. Now, I had used Sassy Shads and Cocahoe minnows forever but to me those are jigs. The Swim Baits I’ll be referring to here on out weigh in excess of  three quarters of an ounce or more. The one I regularly use is an ounce. I’m not sure if the color or brand matters as I have caught fish on all that I’ve tried but the fact remains that these baits simply get a response when I use them at night.  

The waters I fish are crystal clear and during the day I normally use 4 and 6lb test. At night I go heavier with 20lb Sea King Ultra in Smoke Color and a 7ft Kistler Helium LTA in Medium or Medium Heavy. The little Shimano Calcutta manages the line well and is just comfortable to use. On this particular night I was cursing its’ metal construction as my fingers grew increasingly cold. It didn’t matter though, I knew I’d be out there for only an hour or so. That is all it would take. Pick off a few fish here and a few more there. When it was all over I landed 7 bass and dropped 2. Not bad for about an hour.

The swim bait has gained a reputation as a big bass bait and became popular in California. Here anglers mimic the stocked trout that the West Coast bass fatten up on. Hey, I have big bass in my area too, so I logically opted to try the swim bait on my local waters and viola!! It has been a wise choice.

There are no secret retrieves or tricks I employ with these baits. I simply cast and count them down. Then I slowly and continuously reel them back. Most of the strikes are pretty hard, some just feel like extra weight. Either way I set the hook pretty good since I use heavier line. I compare the style they are fished to either a spinnerbait or Slider worm. Slow and steady is the key. Bass whack them pretty hard. The brand I rely on is from Japan. The only writing on the package is "Avinto". I got them on eBay and they feature a 3X type plastic that is super durable. I’ve used Storm and other but these are the best. I lose them before they get to worn or damaged. This is an excellent way to catch fish, check it out.

Craig DeFronzo

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