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Fishing Tips

DON'T OVERLOOK FLOATING TIRE REEFS FOR LATE-SPRING BASS

Posted 4/27/2010

Yamaha Pro Clark Reehm describes them as the most overlooked bass cover on a lake, even though bass can be found on them continuously between spring and early fall. They're easy to fish, frequently hold quality bass, and you can visit them repeatedly because more bass constantly move in to them.

The cover Reehm is describing is a floating tire reef, consisting of dozens of old automobile tires wired together to protect a marina from continuous wave action. They're used on lakes throughout the country, most often on those reservoirs that see a lot of big boat traffic. Lakes like Texoma, Grand, Greers Ferry, and Lanier are famous for their tire reefs, but they're used on lakes everywhere.

"Tire reefs aren't very pretty to look at," laughs Reehm, "which may be one reason they're often overlooked, but bass are attracted to them because of the shade and food they provide. After the tires have been in the water for awhile, algae begins growing on them and that attracts minnows and other small fish. Shad also spawn on the tires, adding even more feeding opportunities for bass.

"Bass suspend under the tires and can feed whenever they want to. Because most marinas are located close to deeper water, bass are continually moving to the tire reefs to feed, so it's possible to fish them several times a day and catch bass each time."

Although various types of lures can be effective when fishing floating tires, the Yamaha Pro prefers small, plastic swimbaits with paddle tails. The reason is because Reehm can reel these lures quickly and create a lot of vibration in the water that may attract suspended bass from greater distances.

"Normally, I let the swimbait sink about a foot so it's just below the tires, and I retrieve it as close to the edge of the tires as I can get it," he explains. "Tire reefs tend to be used more on clear lakes, because those are the most popular with houseboaters and pleasure craft that create a lot of wave action. In that type of water, fast retrieves are usually more effective so the bass don't get a good look at the lure."

Reehm may also fish tire reefs with a spinnerbait, jerkbait, floating worm, or even a swimming jig. All of these lures are easy to control with fast retrieves and create a lot of sound and commotion in the water. The key with any of them, he believes, is keeping them about a foot below the surface and as close to the tires as possible.

"The best way to fish tire reefs is simply by casting down the edges," he says. "Any irregularities along that edge, such as gaps or points—and there will always be some—are worth noting and fishing very carefully.

"The largest bass, however, are often at the outermost tip of the reef, which is closest to deep water, or they're closest to the shoreline where the reef may be anchored. Overall, however, you're likely to catch a quality bass anywhere along a tire reef."

Occasionally, the Yamaha Pro will also flip tire reefs, using braided line and a heavy ¾-ounce jig. Flipping into the openings isn't difficult, but getting hooked fish out is.

"That's why you use heavy line around these reefs," laughs Reehm. "With the swimbaits and spinnerbaits, I usually use 20-pound fluorocarbon line because I'm working the lures along the outside edges of the tires. It's normally strong enough to keep a bass under control so it doesn't swim back underneath the tires.

"When you're flipping a jig into the middle of the tires, every fish you hook becomes a problem, so strong braided line is just about your only option. Normally, I don't flip the reefs until later in summer. Right now in the spring, the fluorocarbon works just fine."

Reehm never misses the chance to aim a few casts at tire reefs no matter where he's competing, and in some Bassmaster® Elite and Open tournaments, they're the only cover and structure he fishes.

"I may make a 'milk run' around a lake and fish seven or eight different tire reefs," the Yamaha Pro concludes, "and I might do that two or three times each day. There are always some bass around them, and I know most of the other fishermen are usually going to overlook them."