One of the more exciting situations an angler can find himself in is seeing a massive school of fish come up feeding! It’s these moments that limits can be filled quickly and in an extremely fun fashion. In all honesty, once fish come up to visually feed in large numbers it eliminates a lot of the elements we struggle with. We KNOW where the fish are, we KNOW that they are feeding, and we KNOW that they are catchable, or so we think. The only piece of the puzzle that usually remains is HOW to catch them, because a lot of times these fish are so keyed on to a certain forage that it they become extremely picky about what they will eat. Many times, it can become frustrating, but there are a couple of baits that I have found that catch these schoolers a great majority of the time.
This has become such a go-to, that anytime I believe there is a potential to run across schools of feeding fish, this is rigged and ready to be the first bait I chunk at them. More times than not, it is going to catch them. It is a very non-intrusive, very subtle, and very natural offering that simply gets bit in the midst of feeding fish. The biggest key though is understanding what forage the bass are feeding on. This one piece of information will be vital to catching or just simply casting to no avail. If the key forage is big Gizzard Shad, then you’re going to want a big Gizzard Shad-like offering. One of the main lakes that I fish, large schools of bass will key in on huge groups of very small minnows for much of the year. In this case, they will not touch anything except a very small finesse swimbait. But all-in-all, that miniature swimbait has been a day-saver for many trips to that lake. In fact, it has become a primary pattern to locate these schools throughout the day because I know that if I find them, it will be lights out!
This has been a staple in many amateur and professional angler’s boats throughout the years when it comes to catching schoolers. But again, understanding what it is that you’re imitating will be vital to having success. Nothing is quite as exciting as knowing that big bass are feeding on big shad, especially during these fall months, and throwing a spook style walking bait at them! This can make for some very exciting and very memorable days on the water! But not all fish across the country have these large-bodied baitfish to target. Sometimes it takes a smaller walking bait, or even a small Pop’R to get the job done.
These two types of baits have saved my tail from some very tough days on the water. Once you know that there is a potential for bass to come up feeding in large groups, and you have an idea of what they are feeding on, you can have a couple of nearly fail-proof bait offerings ready to go at all times. And, as we head into a season where baitfish is king, I would be sure to have these within arms reach for every trip to the lake!