In the prespawn, one thing is commonplace across the country — bass feed heavily on bluegill and shad in preparation to spawn. Wired2fish’s McKeon Roberts shares a methodical process for targeting big bass in shallow water using realistic weedless swimbaits that mimic shad or bluegill.
Bass and bluegills often co-mingle in shallow water, especially in wind-blown pockets where the whole food chain from plankton to predator exists. The bass use cover or structure such as bulrush, root balls, or wood to hide in ambush. You can effectively fish weedless-rigged swimbaits around cover such as grass and wood a slow and steady retrieve usually works best.
Good Weedless Bluegill Swimbaits
There are a number of good weedless bluegill swimbaits on the market now. We’re fond of the 13 Fishing Coalition Bait Gill, the Megabass Dark Sleeper, the Savage Gear Pulsetail and the Berkley Gilly are all good options for picking off big bass in grass and vegetation.
Shallow Water Areas for Swimbait Bass
Chris Zaldain shares in the video above some great tips for shallow areas to target with bluegill swimbaits. As pointed out, the best areas are going to be shallow backwater areas near or in spawning locations. The best spawning locations will offer solid bottom substrate for making beds and cover to make bass feel more protected. Pockets in the weeds offer lots of cover for spawning bass but can be hard to get conventional lures through without being too obtuse with presentations. A bluegill swimbait is the perfect size and subtle action for picking these bigger feeding bass off effectively.
Look at lake maps for the shallow protected flats and lead in banks with cover for spawning and work out from there. Somewhere along the transition you will find these feeding prespawn females making their way to the spawn areas and back out again afterwards.
Weedless Bluegill Swimbait Gear
A casting reel in the 7.5:1 range is ideal as speed can be easily managed while still having the ability to pull fish from cover. Other important factors for a larger swimbait setup are a longer rod, which aids in long casts and driving the heavy gauge hooks. Roberts uses a braided line for hook setting power coupled with a strong 20-pound fluorocarbon leader for invisibility. As the water is shallow, the big bait can often spook fish upon entry. Try to land your bait calmly by keeping your trajectory low, or bank it off cover to keep the entry cast stealthy.
- SWIMBAIT – 13 Fishing – Coalition Bait Co, The Gill
- SWIMBAIT – 13 Fishing – Coalition Bait Co, BAMF Shad, 5.25-Inch
- HOOK – Lazer TroKar Magnum Weighted Swimbait Hook, 7/0 3/8-ounce and 5/0 – 1/4-ounce
- ROD – 13 Fishing Omen Black 3 Casting Rod, 7’11” Heavy
- REEL – 13 Fishing Concept A2 Casting Reel, 7.5:1
- LINE (main) – Sufix ProMix Braid, 50-pound
- LINE (leader) – Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon, 20-pound
BOAT AND MOTOR
- BOAT – Lund 1650 Rebel XL Tiller, Gunmetal Grey
- ENGINE – Mercury FourStroke 60hp Command Thrust Tiller
- PROP – Mercury Elite Series SpitFire X7 Propeller
- TILLER HANDLE – Mercury Tiller Handle 40-115hp
BOAT CONTROL (TROLLING MOTORS AND SHALLOW WATER ANCHOR)
- BOW MOUNT TROLLING MOTOR – Minn Kota Ultrex 80/MSI/IP Trolling Motor w/i-Pilot Link Bluetooth – 24v-80lb
- SHALLOW WATER ANCHOR – Minn Kota Talon, 8-foot
- ELECTRONICS – Humminbird HELIX 10 MEGA SI+ CHIRP GPS G4N
- MAPPING – LakeMaster Plus
- MOUNT – T-H Marine KVD Kong Electronics Mount
BATTERIES AND CHARGER
- BATTERIES – Dakota Lithium 12v-54Ah Deep Cycle
- ONBOARD CHARGER – Minn Kota MK-345PC Precision On-Board Charger 3 Bank 15 Amps