“The Strike Zone”
These three words can speak volumes if one starts to unpack its true meaning
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).
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