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Fishing Tips

THIS PRO LIKES BIG WORMS FOR SUMMER BASS

Posted 7/23/2012

One of the things Brandon Palaniuk likes most about summer bass fishing is how easy it is to decide which lure to use. The Yamaha Pro’s top choice is a big 10-inch plastic worm, and often it will be the only lure he’ll use during a full day on the water.

“You can fish a big worm at any depth and easily stay in contact with the bottom, which is critical in the summer,” notes Palaniuk, who has been fishing 10 and 12-inch plastic worms for more than a decade. “I prefer a worm with a swimming, ribbon-style tail, too, which allows me to work the lure very slowly and still have plenty of action.

That slow-speed action, he believes, is also critical to summertime success, since largemouths become sluggish in the warm water and normally don’t chase lures very agressively. A large lure moving slowly represents a very easy feeding opportunity for them.

“Most of the time, I rig my plastic worm Texas-style, with either a 3/8 or ½-oz. slip sinker,” continues Palaniuk, “and just drag the worm slowly along the bottom. I don’t hop it or try to create a lot of erratic motion. I just raise my rod slightly to move the worm, then lower the rod and reel in slack. 

“Sometimes, when I want a different look, a slightly different action, or if I’m fishing in bottom vegetation, I’ll rig the worm on a footfall jighead or even a big shaky head jig. Both of these pull the head of the worm down so the tail rises higher, but even with these two rigging options, I still just slowly drag the worm along the bottom. It couldn’t be easier.”

To locate summer bass, the Yamaha Pro idles slowly over main lake points and across large tributary channels while he studies his electronics. He’s looking for both structure and cover, including breaklines and abrupt depth changes, ledges, rock piles, brush, and even standing timber. He likes channels that swing close to the side of a point, or where an underwater roadbed dips to produce a sudden change of depth. His preferred fishing depth ranges from 12- to 25-feet.

“At the same time, I’m also looking for cover, either natural or man-made,” he adds. “Brush piles are always worth fishing, although certainly not all of them will hold bass. During the Bassmaster® Elite tournament at Toledo Bend this past June, I fished brush piles exclusively the first day using a big worm and brought in more than 20 pounds of bass, so they can definitely be productive at times.

“All I did was slowly drag the worm right into the brush,” continues the Yamaha Pro. “On my first brush pile, my first bass weighed four pounds, and the second weighed five. Then, on another brushpile a few yards away, I caught a three-pounder and then a five-pounder a few casts later. There weren’t a lot of bass on each brush pile, but they were quality fish.”

The majority of the time, Palaniuk uses 15-pound fluorocarbon line. If he knows the bass have been heavily pressured, or if the water is extremely clear, he may use 12-pound line. Conversely, he uses stronger 20-pound fluorocarbon when he’s fishing extremely heavy cover like standing timber and rocks.

“Big plastic worms like this have long been popular for night fishing during the summer months,” Palaniuk continues, “but many fishermen don’t realize how effective they are during daylight hours, too. I think the most important things to remember are crawling the worm slowly along the bottom and making certain you can always feel the lure itself as you move it. 

“I’ve used big worms in competition on lakes all over the United States during the past few years,” concludes the Yamaha Pro, “and it’s hard to think of any other lure that produces fish as consistently as they do, often when crankbaits and even jigs fail. If I’m going bass fishing this time of year when it’s hot, big worms will definitely be among my lure choices, and often they’re my only choice.”