It is October and fall may be starting everywhere else, but not here in South Florida. At Okeechobee the fish are still in their summer patterns. First thing in the morning, the bass are chasing shad in the Kissimmee grass all around the lake. My favorite search bait is the new
Yo-Zuri Knuckle Bait. I’ve learned a lot about this new bait and how to fish it. The bait fishes a lot like a swim jig, even though it looks like a spinnerbait. You don’t feel much thump, but that ball just keeps on dancing as you reel. All summer long, we have been able to catch 25-30 fish in the first few hours. I have been burning the bait on the outside grass lines and crushing them. WE found that burning the bait almost doubled our strikes compared to slow rolling.
My “go to” set up is a 7’2” Witch Doctor Surman 50G rod in the medium heavy action. I combine the rod with a Lew’s 6:3 to 1 reel. I then add 20 lb. Top Knot Yo-Zuri fluorocarbon mainline and start slinging!
The bait is in the grass and the bass are actively feeding for the first few hours. My two favorite colors have been black/blue Knuckle Bait teamed with a Gambler Little EZ in the black and blue color. My other favorite color is the white Knuckle Bait with a pearl white Gambler Little EZ. The shad are relatively small, so my most effective size Knuckle Bait is ¼ oz.
Don’t pick up this bait expecting the vibration and thump of a spinnerbait or chatterbait. Even though you can’t feel what the ball is doing, it’s driving the fish wild.
Give it a try, and I promise you will love it just like I do.
If you spend much time fishing bridges at night, then the Yo-Zuri Mag Minnow should be your go-to lure, because it’s simple to use, represents a variety of baitfish and is super effective. Living in South Florida, the lights from the bridges draw a lot of snook and tarpon, which are my main targets. As a rule, both species like to hunt the shadow lines cast by the bridge on the up-current side of the structure, although tarpon will regularly work the down-current side as well.
The fish like to station on the dark side of the shadow line so mullet swimming with the current won’t see them. When the mullet traveling in the lighted areas hit the dark, shadowed sections they tend to be blinded for a few seconds and often slow down or stop. That’s when the fish strike.
The key for fishing shadow lines is to position your boat parallel to the shadow line you plan to fish, then cast parallel to the bridge but 10 to 20 feet up-current of the shadow line, allowing you to slowly swim the lure into the shadows. You can mix up the length of the cast or the distance from the shadow line to make the lure swim through the area in different locations.
The majority of the time I fish a Mag Minnow I just cast it out and reel in slowly back to the boat, giving it no action so it looks like a hapless baitfish just swimming along. Every few casts I’ll change it up and retrieve the lure with a stop and go action, ripping it along with a sweep of the rod and then letting the bait sit stationary for a second or two before moving it again. That will sometimes get reaction bites from fish that aren’t normally feeding.
Since the lighting on bridges is man-made and not natural, there’s a tendency for your leaders to reflect more light than during the daylight hours, so I always use Yo-Zuri fluorocarbon leader. I’ll also drop down in leader size from 50 pound test to 30 or 40 pound test to get more bites.
For a full time kayak fisherman like myself, one of the most sought after characteristics in a lure is versatility. Given the confined space of a kayak, you don’t have the option of bringing boxes and boxes of tackle with you so it’s good to have a few “go to” lures that can be used in a variety of ways. The number one lure on my list is Yo-Zuri’s Crystal Minnow.
The short billed Crystal Minnow comes in several different sizes and can be fished in a myriad of techniques and presentations to appeal to just about any fish in the water. I always have a Crystal Minnow behind the boat when I’m trolling out to my spots and it is typically the first lure that I throw when I get where I’m going.
Whether presenting the lure fast or slow, smooth or with jerks or twitches, there is almost always a way to fish these lures that will trigger a bite. My favorite presentation is a brisk “stop and go” with the “go’s” in the form of aggressive rips. This presentation resembles what I do with a big popper (just sub-surface) and typically gets the same type of bites as a popper. The same presentation can be slowed to trigger bites from more cautious feeders like Snook and Snapper or you can speed it up to appeal to aggressive feeders like Roosters, Tuna, Mahi, etc. The CM also works well on a steady retrieve but I find that I usually get a better bite percentage when adding some light rhythmic action. I have found that with the Crystal Minnow, no matter what I am targeting, there is a presentation that will work. All I have to do is keep giving them different looks until they get hungry enough or angry enough to take what I’m offering.
Whether you are a kayak or beach fisherman looking for a minimalistic approach to your tackle options or a full blown gear head that just wants the best, the Crystal Minnow should occupy a very high position in your lure selection. It has been my bread and butter lure for years and will likely remain so for years to come.
-Lance Clinton, Yo-Zuri Ambassador
Fall fishing is one of the most diverse times to fish for bass. Bass in the fall can be found from deep water to super shallow water and everywhere in between. They don’t stay in one area long this time of year because they are always on the move in the fall. The reason why bass move so much this time of year is because they are chasing shad that are migrating from their deep water, main lake, summertime haunts to the shallows of creeks and rivers. This time of year I really try to target shallow water in creeks because I like fishing areas where I know more bass are coming.
Anytime I’m fishing shallow water creeks in the fall, I love covering water and catching active fish. Two of my favorite baits for this situation are Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil and a Hardcore Crank 2+. I like bone color for the 3DB Pencil and gizzard shad color for the Crank 2+. The key this time of year is putting the trolling motor down and covering miles of bank. The only time I slow down is when I come to any piece of wood cover. If I’m seeing lots of surface activity like shad flickering on the surface or bass chasing bait, I will throw the 3DB Pencil. When I’m not seeing much surface activity, that tells me that the shad are closer to the bottom and then I lean on the Crank 2+ more.
I use the same rod and reel for both baits, and the only thing that is different is the line selection. An Abu Garcia Veritas rod (7′ medium) paired with an Abu Garcia Revo MGX reel (8.0:1) gets the nod for both techniques. I use 40lb Yo-Zuri Super Braid for the 3DB Pencil and 12lb Yo-Zuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon for the Hardcore Crank 2+.
This is the time of the year for small crankbaits. The baitfish are small, and the bass all over the country are tuned in to these tiny baitfish as their primary food source. This time of year, I like to pick up small, baits like the Yo-Zuri 3DR and 3DS Midcrankbaits and cover some water. My favorite colors are Real Gizzard Shad and Tennessee Shad.
These baits are so effective, that I’ve nicknamed them my “Auto Bass” baits, because it always catches ‘em. The 3DR and 3DS Mid crankbaits run about six-feet-deep and even though they have a small profile, they make their presence known in the water with a fairly wide wobble that gets their attention.
I like to fish them in the fall by running to the backs of creeks and pockets and covering the bank. Shad typically move towards the backs of creeks in the fall, and making those moves myself makes the most sense. I use a 7’1” Medium-Light Phenix Feather rod and a 6.2:1 retrieve speed Shimano Curado200K reel spooled with 10-pound-test Yo-Zuri Top Knot Fluorocarbon.
I always start with a nice medium speed retrieve, speeding up and slowing down to get a feel for how aggressive the fish are. But, I am careful to not let myself get in too much of a rhythm with my retrieve. It’s really important to make the lure deflect off of rocks, stumps, docks or anything in the water that will cause the lure to change directions; that’s what really causes the fish to react.