UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Mitchell

Sinking a Staysee for Winter Bass

Sinking a Staysee for Winter Bass

Fishing late and early in the season is often challenging. Because the water is cold, it can take a lot more patience to find fish or to coax them into biting. If you truly want to put your patience to the test, you might consider fishing a jerkbait ultra-slow. If you want to try for superhuman patience, you might want to fish a jerkbait like Cody Murray.

Hailing from Idaho, Murray doesn’t simply twitch and pause. He weights his jerkbaits and sinks down to depths greater than 25 feet.

 

How it started

Back in 2000, Murray ran across an article about Curt Lytle winning a tournament on Table Rock with a weighted Smithwick Rogue. That got his brain ticking and started his obsession with weighting jerkbaits.

Most folks might give up easy on the idea of sinking a bait down at a slow pace in the cold, but Murray’s education in tournament fishing via angler Don Larson primed him from the start.

“Don was a cop and a trophy hunter, so he knew the virtues of patience,” relays Murray. “When I started fishing tournaments with him when I was 11 he gave me a split-shot rig on a spinning rod and told me I was going to throw that until I won a tournament. He said it would teach me patience and finesse, and those two things would take me far. The first tournament I ever fished with him he won on a split-shot rig, and I caught zero keepers. I just noticed, through fishing with him, that I fished fast and was impatient, and he fished super slow and caught fish.”

Eventually, Murray won a derby on a split-shot rig and was allowed to move on. Luckily, he never forgot how key patience can be. Over the years, Murray has refined weighting jerkbaits to an impressive degree and caught piles of smallmouths and largemouths on them during Idaho winters.

 

The bait

Murray essentially fishes a weighted jerkbait two ways. One is with a slow-sinking, very patient retrieve. The other is a faster-sinking, slightly more aggressive retrieve. For both techniques, he modifies the same jerkbait.

The Lucky Craft Staysee 90 SP Version 2 is Murray’s mainstay. It has a big bill to help it dive, a soft action when he works it, and it catches bass. Before adding any other weight, Murray always changes the hooks, going with a red No. 4 Owner ST-36 treble on the front and a regular No. 6 Owner ST-36 on the back. Already, those hooks are heavier than stock, but Murray doesn’t stop there. Depending on his situation, he’ll add anywhere from one to three Storm SuspenDots to the bait to really sink it down.

Typically, Murray will place one or two SuspenDots right behind the front hook, but he’ll sometimes go with three dots in front of the hook. Three dots will really sink the bait quickly, and putting them toward the front of the bait keeps the nose down so he can fish it faster without it rising.

Murray says he’s messed around with sinking jerkbaits and other deep-diving, suspending models, but he keeps coming back to the Staysee.

“I really think the bait is important,” adds Murray. “I think the movement of the bait and the way the bill is make it good. It deflects well when you twitch it, but the action is kind of muted. It will pull to one side, but it doesn’t have a ton of erratic action.

“I will play with this a lot,” Murray says about his offering. “If I have a whole day on the water I’ll fiddle. There are times I’ll cut a SuspenDot in half to add just a bit of weight. You can really spend a lot of time perfecting it if you want to.”

He’ll use a spectrum of colors, but his best producers are chartreuse shad, ghost minnow and aurora red. He says that red is particularly good in the spring and for kicker smallmouths.

 

Tackle up

Murray sticks with 8-pound-test fluorocarbon, a 6.3:1 gear ratio Daiwa Tatula 100 and a 7-foot, medium-light Daiwa Tatula Elite casting rod. Because the bait ends up being decently heavy, casting it isn’t an issue, but a baitcaster gives him better line control than a spinning outfit would.

“Sometimes I’ll get bumped three or four times on the cast before one actually commits to the bait,” explains Murray. “What I like about the baitcaster is if I feel like I want to keep it there, or drop it back down to the fish, I can hit the button and free-spool the line or pull some out and keep it there. I feel like, usually, if they were active enough to come find it, if I can work the bait a few more times I can get them to commit.”

 

Setting the scene

Fishing mostly mountain reservoirs, Murray starts to look for a jerkbait bite when the water temperature drops below 50 degrees, and then again when it climbs back above 40 degrees. In Idaho, that means he’s jerking in November and December and then picking it up again sometime in February for another month or so. The lakes Murray fishes look a lot like the lower end of Lake Havasu – almost canyons, where you can usually see anyone fishing across the lake with ease.

When the jerkbait bite is on, the water is typically clear, with up to 10 feet of visibility. Though most of the places he fishes are reservoirs and not natural lakes, none of them has much flow to speak of. Almost all of his home fisheries support both smallmouths and largemouths, but as is often the case in the winter, the two species don’t always overlap.

Finally, though the following scenarios may sound a bit cut and dried, it’s still jerkbait fishing. Playing with cadences is always going to be important. Adding weight just complicates the matter more, so it’s a technique that requires an open mind on any given day.

 

One dot

Murray’s favorite way to throw a Staysee is with just one SuspenDot. It’s slightly more versatile and gets the majority of his use.

One of the primary ways he applies a slowly sinking bait is for fish that are suspended over deep water.

“In the spring I can meter an area and find fish on the graph suspended over a point or something,” says Murray. “And if the fish are 30 or 40 feet down, maybe over 60 or 80 feet, I can find those fish. If I throw that bait with one dot and let it have enough time I can usually catch those fish. Sometimes I can crank it down, and then it might be a pause as long as a minute, and I can catch them.”

When he’s fishing for strictly suspended bass, Murray often isn’t actually getting the bait to them. He reckons he can get the bait with one dot to about 25 feet fairly effectively through a combination of reeling and sinking. Because the water is clear and the bait is moving slowly, the bass will come up to eat it. A swimbait on a jighead or something like that would fall too quickly through the sluggish bass, but a nearly immobile jerkbait will tempt them.

Another way Murray likes to apply the one-dot bait is along migration routes and places fish are forced to filter through.

“Oftentimes I’ll go and find the biggest changes,” says Murray, ‘like the biggest pieces of rock or a slide or one point. And I’ll sit in 20 to 25 feet and just parallel the bank and throw that rip bait, just leaving it there long enough to get bit.”

He says that fishing for bass that he hasn’t already marked on a graph often requires a cup of coffee during the retrieve, but it can pay off.

The single-dot bait is also Murray’s staple for just fishing slow and deep in the middle of guts, any places where he marks bait and along bluffs.

“The bluff fishing seems to come into play when you get weather that indicates the fish should be moving up and down,” says Murray. “They’ll move a lot faster on those bluffs. If I get a few warm days, it seems like I can fish the sunny side of the bluffs and the fish’ll eat.”

A lot of the real deep stuff that Murray targets is smallmouth water. He says in the winter, even when the water is frigid, the largemouths typically don’t get more than 16 or 18 feet deep.

“I think they stay shallow for the most part, but I can get them to eat that rip bait,” says Murray. “I throw it with a single dot, so it’s still a sinking jerkbait, but they’ll eat it when you can’t necessarily catch them on anything else. If you leave it paused long enough they’ll eat it, and I think the sinking motion might be key. It maybe triggers the natural response that they have to eat something dying.”

 

Two or three dots?!

When Murray sticks up a bait with three SuspenDots he’s creating a bait that actually sinks fairly quickly. As such, he needs to move it and fish it more aggressively to keep it from getting hung on the bottom.

“Usually when I fish it aggressively I’m fishing it not more than 25 feet down,” says Murray. “That’s about the deepest I want to fish it when it’s on the bottom.”

In this case, Murray makes sure he’s got a lure retriever with him just for safety’s sake because there’s no reason to lose a Lucky Craft if you don’t have to.

“Sometimes smallmouths will be in that zone and they’ll still really react,” says Murray. “I’ll sink it down there near the bottom and fish it at a fairly decent clip and keep it moving the whole time. I don’t know if it’s the bait or it’s just a reaction, but they’ll eat it. I’ve had times where you have to sink it with just two SuspenDots, and you need to do 15- or 30-second pauses.”

Typically, with one dot, Murray pauses the bait about 30 seconds between twitches all the time. With two or three dots, he pauses less and actually twitches the bait along with just a bit of (not too much) aggression.

When the fish are actually relating to the bottom and he’s using three dots, Murray often targets points, especially longer ones, and the breaks on deep flats. Just like one-dot fishing, the presence of bait is a highly sought-after factor.

 

Be prepared

Weighting jerkbaits and fishing them as deep as Murray does is not easy.

“If you try this and give it 10 minutes you’ll never catch a fish on it,” he says, and he’s not wrong. 

Slow wintertime fishing requires dedication and confidence to excel. But, just because it’s a tall task doesn’t mean you should ignore weighting baits altogether. You might not live in Idaho, but there’s a good chance you could think more about how your jerkbaits sink while fishing around home if you wanted to. If a little experimentation buys you a few extra fish or a more thorough understanding of the bait it might be worth it.

 

Tags: idaho  -staysee  -pro-tips-weekly  jody-white  article 

FLW Reschedules Tournament Dates

FLW Reschedules Tournament Dates

We are working diligently with our hosts and sponsors to reschedule all postponed tournaments and are pleased to announce new dates for all of the affected Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and Toyota Series events as well as some Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI and FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing events. Rescheduled Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine tournaments will be announced soon.  READ MORE »

The Rebirth of Spencer Shuffield

The Rebirth of Spencer Shuffield

Fall from grace stories are rarely told in the fishing world. Tournament pros come and go from year to year, some after having found a little success and some leaving the pro fishing world with little show for it. That’s the nature of a sport predicated on competing with the best of the best in a format that sometimes rewards chance. Often, hard work and skill aren’t enough to precipitate prolonged success. READ MORE »

How to Catch Tailrace Smallmouths

How to Catch Tailrace Smallmouths

The reservoirs strung along the Tennessee River are tremendous fisheries, but they perhaps don’t get as much shine for being smallmouth producers as they should. READ MORE »

FLW Classics – Week 1

FLW Classics – Week 1

This week’s shows cover everything from the first FLW Tour win for John Cox, to a Tour event on Okeechobee where three pros crossed the century mark and the second College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

Join Facebook Q&As with FLW Pros

Join Facebook Q&As with FLW Pros

With no tournament action taking place and most people staying in and around their homes to help slow the spread of COVID-19, folks are taking to the internet and social media more and more. Here at FLW, we’re using social media to help fans pass the time with some of the sport’s top fishing pros. READ MORE »

Nixon Eyeing Early June Return

Nixon Eyeing Early June Return

You couldn’t choose just one word to describe Larry Nixon’s professional fishing career. But right now, if you had to try, the most applicable word might be “resiliency.” READ MORE »

Berkley Announces Fish Through It Challenge

Berkley Announces Fish Through It Challenge

While tournament fishing may be on hold for a bit, that doesn’t mean you can’t be stocking up on tackle. What better way to load your tackle box than with free tackle! That’s where Berkley’s  Fish Through It Challenge comes into play. READ MORE »

FLW Reschedules Events Through May 3

FLW Reschedules Events Through May 3

This unprecedented action, taken out of an abundance of caution and continued uncertainty of venue availability, will help protect the health and welfare of our anglers, staff, fans, sponsors and host communities.  READ MORE »

Lake Martin on YouTube

Lake Martin on YouTube

The third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season on Lake Martin was filled with fish catches. Many of the pros documented individual fish, the entire tournament or produced recaps for YouTube. READ MORE »

10 Pro Circuit Highlights So Far

10 Pro Circuit Highlights So Far

We’re almost halfway through the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit schedule, which means we’re far enough along now for a little retrospective on what’s happened thus far. READ MORE »

Sight-Fishing with Swimbaits

Sight-Fishing with Swimbaits

Ron Nelson, the Pro Circuit Angler of the Year leader and a renowned sight-fisherman, used a Keitech Swing Impact FAT for blind-fishing and sight-fishing at Martin and earned a runner-up finish. California’s Kevin Hugo took seventh at Lake Havasu and caught some of his biggest bass sight-fishing with a Little Creeper All American Trash Fish or Sunfish. Though the reasons why they settled on swimbaits varied, both pros can offer valuable lessons for any angler tackling a spawning scenario. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Lake Martin

AOY Update: Lake Martin

Through three events of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, second-year pro and 2019 Polaris Rookie of the Year Ron Nelson remains atop the Angler of the Year standings after a second-place finish at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Bites were easy to come by at Lake Martin. It was getting the quality bites that separated the field. READ MORE »

FLW Postpones Events Through April 5

FLW Postpones Events Through April 5

Out of an abundance of caution and the uncertainty of venue availability amid rapidly evolving restrictions, however, FLW will reschedule all tournaments through April 5, except for the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on Lake Martin in Alexander City, Alabama, for which practice has already begun and extra precautions have been instituted.  READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from Okeechobee

Top Patterns and Baits from Okeechobee

Though the total weights didn’t live up to some expectations, the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee was still a lot of fun. The weather was great, there were plenty of fish caught the first two days, and there was a truly dramatic race for the win on the final day. READ MORE »

Niles Goes Back-To-Back

Niles Goes Back-To-Back

Hailing from Ocean Springs, Miss., Andy Niles has now won on Okeechobee two years in a row. In 2019, he picked up the win in the Southeastern Division event on Okeechobee, and this year he got the win in the second Toyota Series Southern Division event of the year. Weighing a total of 44 pounds, 7 ounces, Niles takes home a new Phoenix bass boat for his efforts. Friday was Niles’ son Cooper’s 8th birthday, and though he’s probably not going to get the boat for a present, he’ll at least get a very happy dad. READ MORE »

Medlock Brings it Home on Big O

Medlock Brings it Home on Big O

Weighing the biggest limit of the final day worth 19 pounds, 4 ounces, Brandon Medlock locked up his third Toyota Series title in the Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee. With 54-4 overall, Medlock won comfortably and was essentially the only pro to put together two very good days of fishing, with a 13-9 catch on day one as his worst day. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Okeechobee is proving to be just as tense as expected. With the entire top 10 less than 4 pounds apart, anything can happen, and it’s entirely possible that someone in ninth or 10th catches a big bag to come from behind. READ MORE »

Medlock Ahead on Okeechobee

Medlock Ahead on Okeechobee

Despite nice weather this week, which has been a rarity for FLW tournaments in Florida this year, the fishing on Okeechobee just hasn’t been what the lake is capable of producing. Still, Okeechobee hammer Brandon Medlock rallied on day two dropping 21 pounds, 7 ounces on the scale to take the lead in the Toyota Series Southern Division event on the Big O with 35 pounds even. READ MORE »

FLW Postpones College and High School Events

FLW Postpones College and High School Events

FLW, the world’s largest tournament fishing organization, announced today the cancellation and postponement of multiple Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI and High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing events due to travel restrictions implemented by universities and high schools nationwide in response to the coronavirus pandemic. READ MORE »