It usually spawns from frustration, or boredom. The graph shows plenty of baitfish and even bigger marks of gamefish, but they’re not interested in what you’ve been cooking. Innocently enough – often as a last resort — you drop a spoon into the fish and feel a tap. The fish pulls hard, and with that, you’re hooked on spoon fishing.
Fishing with spoons has grown in popularity over the past few years. The growth can be credited to advancements in marine electronics with the ability to show photo-like images of cover, structure or fish below and off both sides of the boat. In addition, mapping and GPS technology allow anglers to locate and return to offshore structure and cover where schools of fish live year-round.
While electronics have zoomed forward in technology, spoons for vertical jigging have changed little over the years. Basically there are two different shapes. One is features the approximate shape of a shad or baitfish, like the Cotton Cordell C.C. Spoon. It produces a tight, fast sink-rate. The other shape is more like a silver dollar, such as the Bomber Slab Spoon. It also sinks quickly, but when jigged it produces a slower, more-wobbling action.
After the spawn and throughout the summer months, bass move to deepwater habitat where they stay until fall. It’s prime time for anglers to fish spoons around offshore structure, especially on highland reservoirs like Table Rock Lake. Typically, highland reservoirs have gin clear water clarity, allowing bass to see spoons from long distances and increasing the strike zone.
Bass are structure- or cover-oriented fish once they move offshore. The exception to the rule are nomadic schools that simply follow schools of baitfish, such as shad on Beaver Lake in Arkansas or Blueback herring in Lake Murray in South Carolina.
Humps or submerged islands are offshore bass magnets. Bass will typically suspend near the ends or middle waiting for schools of baitfish to swim by. Long points rolling off into the old river channel are also productive. Bass often suspend on the end of the point where it drops into the channel.
What makes some humps or long points better than others is cover and proximity to the river channel. On highland reservoirs, standing timber, submerged timber or brushpiles provide additional deepwater ambush points.
Ledges or creek channels will also hold large schools of bass once summer arrives and bass migrate to deeper habitat. Shallow sections of ledges or creek channels will hold bass when they first move offshore until they move to deeper sections later on in the summer.
During the winter months, bass will migrate to bluff ends adjacent to the old river channel. Bluff ends allow bass to move up shallow then retrieve to deeper water after feeding. The best bluff ends have major feeder creeks running next to them.
Spoons can be casted to schooling fish and quickly retrieved through the school or swam back under the baitfish to catch fish. When fish are not schooling, drop the spoon vertically into the schools directly below the boat and use the traditional lift-and-drop jigging motion. If they don’t bite that, try dropping it below the baitfish and reeling it quickly back up. This sometimes triggers fish when the usual doesn’t work.
Selecting the right spoon weight and shape is vital. Weight and shape determines the rate-of-fall (ROF) of a spoon. A slender shad-shaped spoon like the C.C. Spoon has a fast ROF, while an oval-shaped spoon like the Slab produces a slower ROF. That means a C.C. Spoon is right for vertical jigging below the boat and the Slab is better for casting to schooling fish or for producing a slower ROF that’s sometimes when vertical jigging.
Spoons often are overlooked because they’re just not glamorous – no flashy paint jobs, light-up laser eyes or fancy add-ons. Electronics are changing that lack of excitement, though, because the advancements allow anglers to easily track a spoon on the screen and actually watch fish hit the lure. It’s as close to a video game as you can get.
One thing to remember – spoon fishing is best during winter or summer, especially on those days when cold fronts or post-front bluebird days make bass finicky. You can put a spoon right on their noses. They hate that.
By Beaver Lake Guide Brad Wiegmann.