This is tough fishing.
In the blink of an eye, an angler has to see the sweet spot in a pocket around structure, shoot a lure into it and immediately begin his retrieve, all while the current is trying to spin the boat one way or another and hustle it down river.
You get hung up a lot, so don’t bring sissy tackle.
Both men used braided line tied directly to the lure — no leader. Spotted bass in the current don’t have time to inspect the lure or whether it is tied to something. McElveen’s line choice is 30-pound test, and Schilling’s is 50-pound.
“Heavy line lets you rip loose from the hang without having to go back and get it,” grunted McElveen. Schilling humorously called the all-too frequent hangups in trees “limb bream.”
Schilling stressed the need for high-speed reels. He uses a 7:1 Pflueger on an All Star Rod, while McElveen’s is an 11:1 KastKing on a 7-foot Daiwa Laguna rod. Both reels are level winds and both rods are medium-heavy — pretty stiff sticks for one-pound fish.
“You can’t use a 3:1 reel here,” McElveen backed up Schilling. “The current is too swift, and you have to retrieve your baits faster than the current to make them work. Plus, when you get a fish on, you have to get them out before they bury in the cover.”
Lure choices are simple and revolve mostly around crankbaits and spinners. Humdingers are favored spinners, although Schilling also likes Stanley Baby Wedges, as well. Skirt colors lean toward blue and white, chartreuse and white or black and chartreuse.
For crankbaits, they stick to Bandit 100 plugs that run 2 to 5 feet deep. Colors they like include chartreuse, black and silver and any crawfish color.
For topwater variety, they throw black or chartreuse and white buzzbaits and Tiny Torpedos in chrome or frog colors.
“Spinnerbaits are number one for me,” boomed Schilling. “They are faster fishing, and you get less hang-ups than with cranks.”
Most of the day, McElveen fished with a chartreuse Bandit crankbait, although he opted for a spinner occasionally, just as Schilling would vary his routine with a crankbait for deep water.
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