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McStick Time of the Season

By: Scott M. Petersen

It is that time of the season that we start to chase little green fish again, hunting is all done now and most of the coldest temperatures of the winter are somewhat past us now. So if you were to hit the water tomorrow what would be tied on the end of your line? For me that choice would be a SPRO McStick. Deep, mid-depths or shallow SPRO has a McStick to fill the fishing options that you are faced with.

Fishing at this time of the season electronics will play a big part in your fishing one for finding structure, and two for finding bass. Humminbirds Side Imaging will make this job a lot easier as you will get a good look at the structure and how it is holding fish. Having this insight will help you when it comes to boat positioning and casting angles.

Main areas to look at during this time of the season and going forward will be river channel swings and standing timber if you are fishing in reservoirs. If you are fishing in natural lakes, deeper water breaks and in both cases points that lead from deeper water towards the shallows will be key at this time of the fishing season. Add to that rock bottom areas and timber that will reach into the waters. As the sun warm these areas they will hold heat and warm up faster than other lake areas. As the water temps start to climb bass will start to make movements towards shallower water, looking for food sources and as the water warms up more they will start to turn their attentions towards spawning and finding a mate and places to spawn.

Once you have a good idea as to some of these areas it is time to get to the fishing part. Let’s start and say you have found a river channel swing that has some timber on it and in the mix you see a school of bait fish that are holding in 15ft of water above the tree tops with the bottom coming in at 30ft.

Yes a wise choice to make first few casts would be a SPRO Little John DD or a Fat Papa 70 to see if I can trigger a few bites to start. My next choice and probably the best way to continue would be to have a McRip 85 tied on the end of my line. Keeping a close eye on your electronics, when you have your boat in position to reach the bass make your cast.

Give the reel a few cranks to get the McRip down and stop, let the bait sit for a few seconds. At the end of the few cranks of your reel your McRip should get to about 8ft to 10ft down. This depth will have a lot to do with line size that you are using. More about that to come. Give the bait a twitch on a slack line and let it sit again for a few seconds, reel up the slack and give the bait a few more twitches then let it come to a rest again. If you feel a strike set the hook, if not continue to work the McRip back to the boat.

If the bait is not getting deep enough you can make a few changes, one is to up size your hooks, and two would be to add another split ring or add lead tape strips to the body. I can tell you the majority of the time just changing the hooks will make all the difference that is needed to get the bait down a little deeper.

As I started to say line size, the larger the line size that you have the shallower the bait will dive; and work. Rule of thumb 10lb test line is your best all around choice for the majority of the stickbait fishing you will do. If you need to limit the depth of your bait go up to 12lb to 14lb as your line choice. Reel speed will also play a big part in the whole picture, during the start of the season use a 5:4-1 reel speed and if you think you are fishing slow enough, take a step back and fish even slower. You will always fish to fast, but you can never fish slow enough during this part of the season. When it comes to rods I use a 7ft medium to medium-heavy action rod. The less you can get the rod to move the less you will move the bait and that is key.

As the season goes on reel speed will pick up as bass activity does as well. One of the things that has changed over the last couple of years is line choices. Many of the stickbait fishermen in the past were dead set against fishing their stickbait options on a fluorocarbon line. Many said that the fluorocarbon line would sink the bait farther down and many times take the bait out of the fish zone. Now some of that thinking has started to change. SPRO’s own stickmaster himself Mike McClelland was a staunch user of monofilament line for all his stickbait fishing he is now starting to use fluorocarbon line for some of his stickbait fishing.

Here is a stickbait rule of thumb use the characteristics of each line to get the most out of your stickbaits. If you need to get your stickbait a little deeper, than use a fluorocarbon line option but if you need to keep your stickbait up use a mono line option. Same goes with action of your stickbait with fluorocarbon line there is less line stretch and more action out of your jerks and pulls, pick a fluorocarbon line as your line choice when you need to get more action out of your stickbait when the bass are active. Switch to mono when the bass are in a finicky or shutdown mood as your bait will have less action triggering more strikes. The two main lines that I use are Sunline’s Super Natural as my mono line choice, and Sunline Reaction FC as my fluorocarbon line choice.

During the spring progression the water will start to warm and so will the action, a bait change will be needed. Make the switch from the McRip to the McStick family of stickbaits. McStick baits are the SPRO McStick 95and 110, the difference is the size of the baits the 110 is a bigger bait than the 95. When you are looking for a smaller profile bait or need to match the forage in the system the McStick 95 will be your bait of choice. As the bass move shallower the McStick 115 should start to get your attention.

When it comes to fishing these baits pretty much follow how you fished the McRip. Make your cast and reel the bait down and stop, give the bait a twitch and stop. Let the bait sit for a few seconds and give the bait a few more twitches then let sit again. One of the hardest things that you will have to do when fishing a stickbait is figuring out the cadence of how the bass want the bait worked that day. Some days it may be twitch, twitch, twitch stop then one or two more twitches. Keep working the bait in difference cadences until you start to catch bass. Let the bass tell you how they want the bait to act that day. One more thing I need to bring to your attention is when you make your jerks with the bait make sure you do it on a slack line then pick up the excess line in-between twitches with your reel. There are two reasons for this, one the bait will have more action when fished on a slack line than it will on a tight line, and second if you twitch your stickbait on a tight line you will pull the bait forward every time you twitch the bait and this will take your bait out of the strike zone faster than if you work the bait on a slack line where you can dance the bait in place.

Stickbait’s will be a main stay for the winter and spring months of your fishing season and should have a place on the end of your line. Electronics will help you find the fish all that is left for you is the catching and the SPRO McStick family of baits put the odds in your favor to get that part done. If you have a special stickbait story you would like to share with the rest of the SPRO fans please share your story on the SPRO Facebook page with the rest of our SPRO fans. To see all of the SPRO product line please log onto www.spro.som