Locating offshore sweet spots has become more accessible and efficient than ever with the advances in technology over the past few years. And, in any case, one of the more consistent spots to find is either natural or man-planted brushpiles. In my time of learning to locate and fish these areas, here are my favorite baits to get the job done.
Without hesitation, the first set-up I reach for is my Bruin ELS reel, Halo Cranking II Series rod, and a deep diving crankbait. Many people say, “find the active fish with a crankbait, then slow down”, but I’ve come to learn that even the inactive fish, and especially the bigger fish, are more likely to be triggered into biting a big, intrusive profile. The crankbait checks all the boxes; it’s relatively good at coming through the hard cover, it’s efficient, it’s a blast to fish, and it is proven to catch numbers as well as quality.
My clean-up offering is going to be a big soft plastic swimbait. It is less intrusive than a big, erratic crankbait, but it still offers a Big Mac sized meal to the biggest fish hanging around the cover. And, if the brush pile is a gnarly one that tends to snag your bait, you can rig the swimbait weedless in order to get into the juicy corners of the brushpile. I like to rig my Pro’s Choice EZ Style swimbait on 20-lb Fluorocarbon with a Dobyns Fury swimbait rod and my Bruin ELS reel geared in 6.2:1.
Sometimes, it’s just necessary to finesse finicky fish into biting. Whether there is a lack of current or it’s a high sky with dead calm water, these are the times I’ll reach for the lighter line and smaller profile bait to get the fish to eat. Since we are fishing in and around a lot of hard cover, I’ll keep a baitcast set-up in my hand. A Bruin ELS 7.3:1 reel, Halo KSII 7’5” MH rod, and a Buckeye Pro Model Spot Remover paired with a NetBait T-Mac worm gets the job done.
On some lakes, offshore brush is a must if you want to compete. On other lakes, it can be a “lights out” situation if not a lot of anglers are venturing offshore. Either way, locating offshore brush is a consistent way to put more and bigger fish in the boat across the country.