COLD FRONTS AND SENKOS
Cold Fronts & Senko's, A Match Made In Bass Heaven!
In the past year anyone who reads about bass fishing or watches television shows pertaining to bass fishing has most certainly heard of the Senko. In fact Gary Yamamoto's Senko has become bass fishing's latest phenomenon. It has even been billed as "not magic but close." While there are a ton of established techniques regarding the Senko and new ones still being discovered on a lake or river near you, in this article I want to share with you my favorite and probably the single most productive condition to catch bass on the Senko. In fact if you live in the Northeast you will be faced with this situation in the near future if not currently. Im talking about low water temperatures commonly associated with early spring, cold fronts and the totally inactive bass that we encounter right after they pass through.
First, just in case you haven't gotten a chance to use a Senko, let me give you a "Quick Senko 101." A Gary Yamomoto Senko, Wave Lures Tiki Stik or Kinami Flash all fall under the lure classification of a soft plastic stickbait. These baits do not have any of the jazzed -up features that have become common on many of today's new soft plastics such as wings,flaps,double curly tails,ribs or tentacles. In fact when you look at the Senko it doesn't appear to be the most appealing creation; as a matter of fact, it's down right ugly. It's the shape of a pen or a small cigar. But when you put this bait in the water, it produce's a subtle wiggle that no self-respecting bass can resist. While most soft plastic baits sink head first, the Senko because of its extremely high salt content sinks completely horizontal, just like the natural forage bass see on a daily basis. While at times a weight is required, most bassers prefer to fish this bait completely weightless. Again because of the salt, the Senko absorbs water making the already dense plastic heavy enough to cast a mile even with no weight. In addition its realistic soft feel and salty taste make bass hold on longer. All of this makes the Senko a true fish catcher, at its best when bass come down with a serious case of lockjaw.
Now when the bass on your home lake are suffering from those pre-spawn cold front blues, the Senko alone is not the solution. This is when you must employ the sometimes gut-wrenching technique called deadsticking. The basic idea behind deadsticking is to let the lure do the work. As far as action, there is none. Deadsticking involves casting your bait out and letting it fall to the bottom on a slack but observed line. When the lure hits bottom instead of hopping, swimming or crawling it along, you let it sit and sit and then let it sit some more. As far as how long you should let the bait sit, there is no set amount of time but I have two theories regarding this. First, if possible I try to let the bass tell me how long to leave the bait resting motionless. If they are hitting after fifteen or twenty seconds then obviously that's about the length of time I'll wait before moving it. However, when I encounter bass that are super inactive I let the bait sit as long as I can possibly stomach it. Even as long as four or five minutes. After this if I haven't detected a strike, I will lift the bait up a few feet off of the bottom , let it fall and then begin the waiting process all over again. I generally only repeat this one more time before I reel the bait in and cast another time. However, sometimes I reel it in after the initial pause. It's up to you, experiment with it.
While the Senko will catch fish just about anywhere, there are certain targets that will dramatically improve your results. First, the basic structure that we always look for when targeting bass is worth a cast. Wood, rocks and grass are the most common places to catch a bass on any lure, the same is true for the Senko. Whether flipping the bait back into a massive tangle of tree branches or letting it fall with a slow seductive wiggle on the edge of a grass line.
The Senko works.
From dock pilings to deep rock piles, wherever you may encounter finicky bass the Senko will produce not only in early spring but through out the year. However, I've found that when I am searching for pre-spawn largemouth's after a cold front has moved through, drop-offs tend to be the most productive spots.
Largemouth Bass in a pre-spawn mode are generally staging or waiting in an area close by to there actual spawning grounds. After a few warm days in a row they will move from this area up into the shallows and stage on shallow structure such as a tree. When the cold front comes through they retreat back out to these drop-offs. I've found that points or steep banks adjacent to or nearby typical spawning areas along the North shore, are often the ticket to loading up on a giant sack of bass. In early spring on any lake you may fish there will be bass using drop-offs or depth to stage. These fish will slam a Senko! Every spring I catch bass deadsticking the Senko on points that drop from a foot or two down to around ten feet. I throw the bait right up into the shallow water pull it out and let it fall right down the drop-off. The same thing is true for a steep shoreline. In the small lakes I fish here in Delaware, I deadstick the Senko on the shoreline around the dam. The bass stage here because of the shore that drops from a few inches down to thirteen feet. The Senko draws them out of the logs and rocks that are peppered along the drop-off. Once the bait falls, I let it lay in the logs until I get a strike. When you can locate a spot that incorporates wood, grass or rocks along with the drop-off, you've truly found a bass magnet.
Line is a crucial component when fishing a Senko at anytime of the year but it's even more important when targeting finicky pre-spawn bass. First you will need a line that is sensitive enough to detect the subtle sometimes mushy strikes that occur when targeting inactive fish. Also because of the heavy cover that inactive fish tend to bury themselves in, you'll need a tough abrasion resistant line. For me this all adds up to Sunline Fluorocarbon Sunline incorporates all of these characteristics. As far as what size test to use, that is based upon the size of the fish, thickness of cover and what type of equipment you are using. When the cover allows, I prefer a quality spinning outfit rigged with twelve pound test Sunline.
On the other hand, when I'm flipping docks or wood I go with a baitcasting outfit spooled with sixteen or even twenty pound test Sunline or in muddy water, Sunline braid in 40-65 lb test!
Regardless of which you choose, you need to become a line watcher.
Line watching involves the angler looking for the slightest twitch,movement or irregularity. Many times this is the only indication a bass will give of its presence. This is especially true during the prespawn phase or anytime you are faced with frigid water temperatures. I cannot stress this enough "watch your line." Eighty percent of the time the strike comes on the initial fall and you feel nothing, the line just moves!
Listed in this article were a few ideas for fishing a Senko during the prespawn. At all times you should be trying something new. There is no wrong way to fish this bait, as long as you fish it slow! On the water you will develop new techniques that will allow you to learn all of the different intricacies in regard to this bait. The Senko truly is an exceptional tool that every angler should add their arsenal. If you were to only use this bait one time, try it the next time your faced with one of those dreaded early spring cold fronts. I believe you'll find that the Senko truly shines under this adverse condition.
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