“The Strike Zone”

These three words can speak vol­umes if one starts to un­pack its true mean­ing

SA Bass - - Contents - >> Gor­don Brown*

These three words can speak vol­umes if one starts to un­pack its true mean­ing. The last cou­ple of weeks I have been do­ing just that and will share my own ex­pe­ri­ences on “the strike zone. – Gor­don Brown

The last cou­ple of weeks I have been do­ing just that and will share my own ex­pe­ri­ences on “the strike zone.” I will ex­plain the dif­fer­ent types of strike zones, how to look for strike zones and tak­ing ad­van­tage of dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions. Fi­nally can we cre­ate a strike zone? Yes we can. The beauty of a strike zone is that it is not de­pend­able on sea­sons i.e. sum­mer or win­ter. Al­though in some sit­u­a­tions it can work out bet­ter in the win­ter. The bass can at times be more pre­dictable in win­ter than in sum­mer. I be­lieve the bass are more homers than roamers in the colder months.

Pri­mar­ily, the strike zone is a point at which a bass will po­ten­tially hit your lure. Find­ing a “pat­tern” is part and par­cel of strike zones. For ex­am­ple, if you find bass are hit­ting a 3/8oz spin­ner bait on the edge of a grass line in 10ft of wa­ter, you have a strike zone or pat­tern. Let me de­fine a few more strike zones. The most com­mon one is junc­tions; this is where two or more sim­i­lar or dif­fer­ent struc­tures or veg­e­ta­tion meet. When you have two big lay downs (trees) cross­ing over each other, where they meet is a “junc­tion.” Take the end of a reed bank and some type of aquatic veg­e­ta­tion starts, that’s a junc­tion. Where a rocky bank ends and be­comes sand etc. I am sure you are get­ting the ba­sic pic­ture. Un­der­wa­ter humps, bridges, rock piles, man-made struc­tures, points, stand­ing tim­ber, iso­lated bushes and fence lines are all po­ten­tial strike zones.

The less ob­vi­ous but can in­flu­ence a strike zone are: wa­ter depth, wa­ter clar­ity, light, wa­ter temperature, lure colour, lure pro­file, speed of re­trieve, veg­e­ta­tion, weather – cold fronts, rain, wind, wa­ter flow, lure pre­sen­ta­tions: Li­p­less crankbait pulling free through grass, crankbaits bounc­ing off a rock, or just stop­ping a sur­face frog mid­way back for a few sec­onds and count­ing down the fall of a bait.

By now you may be say­ing a strike zone is the same as a pat­tern, in some ways you are cor­rect. If you have es­tab­lished a pat­tern, you can’t change or ma­nip­u­late a pat­tern at any given time. On the other hand you can cre­ate a strike zone. We need to keep both in mind be­cause one will help or in­flu­ence the other.

Let’s start look­ing at dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions: Depth - fish­ing a plas­tic worm in 15ft of wa­ter

I no­ticed my line al­ways stopped sink­ing af­ter ±6 sec­onds. Re­al­is­ing my bait could not be on the bot­tom in that time and not feel­ing any bite or move­ment on my line, I would load up and strike. On this par­tic­u­lar trip ev­ery time I struck I had a fish on. There were no junc­tions, or struc­ture, the fish were just sus­pended in 8ft of wa­ter. One year, when Al­bert Falls dam was very low, I lo­cated a few ridges in the mid­dle of the dam and found the fish only in 12ft depth. This was be­tween the 2nd and 3rd ridge. This was the strike zone. Con­cen­trat­ing in this strike zone for the two days won us the com­pe­ti­tion (heav­i­est bag).

Wa­ter colour

Fish­ing a com­pe­ti­tion at Heyshope dam the wa­ter was very clear and find­ing ac­tive fish was not easy. There had been a storm on the Fri­day night with strong winds. Need­less to say, on the Satur­day we found a point in the main dam where the waves had been wash­ing up. This in turn cre­ated a mud line of about 100m down the bank. Us­ing small crankbaits and fish­ing the edge of the dirty and clean wa­ter we were able to cap­i­talise on that strike zone which gave us an edge to win the com­pe­ti­tion.

Ma­nip­u­lat­ing a strike zone

I was fish­ing pock­ets of iso­lated grass with a spin­ner­bait throw­ing into the wind, twice when bring­ing my bait be­tween two pock­ets, I got hit by a good size bass but did not con­nect. A few more casts were in vain, know­ing well that there is a fish I sim­ply moved the boat ninety degrees and re­trieved my spin­ner­bait across the front of the two patches of grass and got taken hard and put that fish in the boat. Just by chang­ing the di­rec­tion of my re­trieve set my­self up for a new strike zone in the same spot.

Another ex­am­ple of this is

When fish­ing in grass you know there are fish around but you keep throw­ing your bait around the edges of the grass so that you don’t get hung up. By us­ing a rat­tle trap which is fairly weed-less and work­ing it through the grass you will cre­ate a strike zone ev­ery time you get hung up. The se­cret is not to pull your bait out of the grass but rip the bait hard once or twice out the grass.

Another way to set up a strike zone

You can set up a strike zone with a crankbait, not by just re­triev­ing it back to the boat. Again you could be po­ten­tially fish­ing an area loaded with fish and not get­ting a bite. Find ar­eas that have struc­ture like rocks, stumps, lay downs, humps etc. and by us­ing a crankbait that dives deeper than the depth you are fish­ing. This al­lows you to re­ally bump any struc­ture on the bot­tom. Ev­ery time your bait bumps and de­flects the off the struc­ture you are set­ting up another strike zone.

To in­crease the ef­fect of this sit­u­a­tion af­ter you have bumped an ob­ject with your crankbait is to pause your bait for a few sec­onds (±3 sec­onds) then give the crankbait a light twitch or two. You will be sur­prised how of­ten a bass will hit your lure now.

We all tune our crankbaits and top wa­ter baits to run straight. Now if you are fish­ing jet­ties, boat docks or trees by ad­just­ing (tun­ing) your bait to run slightly to the left or right, one can now let the lure bump into ev­ery pole or tree on the re­trieve cre­at­ing a strike zone ev­ery time the lure bumps the struc­ture.

What­ever the pat­tern you have found, by tak­ing it one step fur­ther think­ing the strike zone will put a lot more bass on the end of your line. Happy bassing.

Use crankbaits around ar­eas that have struc­ture like rocks, stumps, lay downs, humps etc.

Li­p­less crankbaits are fairly weed­less and can cre­ate a strike zone ev­ery time you get hung up in grass

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