4 min to read
A Western Take on Swimbaits as a Co
Category : BACK DECK
By Colby Pearson
Becoming a consistently successful co-angler takes a large amount of adaptability, focus, and drive. A seasoned co-angler is, at some point or another, faced with various angling adversities, whether it is a pattern that isn’t necessarily conducive to fishing from the back seat, or the overwhelming task of picking off fish behind some of the best in the business. Today’s successful co-anglers are true bass vacuums, and they know when and how to capitalize in order to attain victory.
One of the most difficult feats to accomplish from the back deck is catching the kicker fish often critical to sealing a win.
I distinctly recall as a young co-angler fishing a club event on Lake Shasta, in Northern California. My boater got on to an absolutely killer swimbait bite, catching magnum spotted bass. It felt as though I was netting a fish every cast as he quickly loaded up the boat with 5 respectable spotted bass. That is when I learned the power of a swimbait. This was my first tournament swimbait experience, and I struggled all day, never catching a single swimbait spotted bass. This experience stuck with me and over the following 5 years I put all my energy toward learning and attempting to master swimbait fishing, from both the front and back deck.
First and foremost, as with all co-angling pursuits, it is highly important and valuable to both respect not only your boaters water but fishing style and property as well: Keep your casts within your range, always be courteous, and it never hurts to research typical co-angler guidelines and the unspoken rules of the sport. Maintaining a positive relationship with your boater will not only allow both anglers to fish to the fullest of their ability, but label you as a stand-up co-angler which is paramount.
When swimbait fishing from the back deck it is important to look for key structure elements. Often times with swimbait fishing, anglers will seek just a few bites that are typically upper class fish. I would strongly recommend specifically looking for swimbait “spots” that you can effectively fish from the back deck, these are referred to in the swimbait world as “ambush points” or finite areas where a large fish will set up to feed. These type spots often consist of a point, secondary point, a rock that hangs out farther than others, or bluff walls/bridge pilings but could range to much more broad pattern-able areas such as flats, humps, creek channels etc… As long as you are considering where a kicker fish would setup to feed while also considering where the majority of bait and bass will be, you are on the right track. It is important as a co-angler to not only be able to locate these areas on your boaters water, but also to find ways to effectively fish these areas without hampering your boater. When I swimbait fish from the back deck, I am always on the look out for “ambush points” and once zoned in on one, I will wait until I am set up favorably, then cast. The more practice you get, as with all things, the easier it becomes. It is important to prepare for the cast because from the back deck you are not always set up favorably, and you may only have one shot before that optimal cast is gone.
As far as bait selection is concerned, typically a small swimbait (4”-7”) will suffice. Popular examples of such swimbaits would include: Predator Bait Co’s line of smaller swimbaits, Osprey Tournament Talons in the 5”-7” sizes, Triple Trouts in similar size variances, or one of the numerous hollow belly swimbaits available, among others.
As with all reaction based baits, a swimbait will typically produce better in weather associated with a low pressure system such as wind, rain, clouds and so forth. Tournament swimbait fishing can be very productive in low light, or current related scenarios as well, but should not be set aside simply for sub standard conditions. Any time bass are keying on baitfish, a swimbait is a great choice to not only load the boat quick but catch kicker fish in the process.
Typical “medium sized” (2-4oz) swimbait rods should range from about 7’6”-8′ and posses similar qualities to what you would imagine a giant crank bait rod would have–a long stout rod with ample backbone to fight big fish but still has a soft enough tip to effortlessly cast large baits. As far as line is concerned, a heavy monofilament or fluorocarbon line in the 15-25lb range correlating to bait size is what I prefer. Where smaller baits such as hollow bellies may require a slightly shorter casting rod or even a spinning rod and lighter line, depending on the size of bait.
With proper swimbait practices, the possibilities are limitless. I hope some of these tips and observations will help you in your future tournament endeavors.
Colby Pearson started fishing in local Southern Oregon bass tournaments as a co-angler when he was 12 years old, amassing numerous wins from both the front and back deck over the following 7 years. Colby also found great success in the FLW/TBF High School Fishing events in 2011-2012 winning both the Oregon state event and the Western regional. He followed that success with a 2nd place finish at the FLW High School Fishing National Championship in the Spring of 2012, on Lake Murray, SC. Colby will be attending college this Fall to not only fish, but study marketing to help perpetuate a career as a touring pro. Be sure to look out for him as he works his way up the ranks of the college fishing world.