By Chad Wallace -
In the summer when big bronzebacks move out offshore onto vast rocky mid-lake reefs and humps, they can be easy to find with 2d sonar, side imaging or down imaging when suspended on top or off the edges chasing bait fish. However, when their main forage base is crayfish like on Lake Mille Lacs in Minnesota, the most active fish are tight to the bottom between big boulders stirring up craws, which makes finding fish with your electronics almost impossible.
In this situation instead of looking for fish, I use side imaging to search out large individual boulders and clumps of rock throughout the hump or reef which can equal a lot of waypoints and still a lot of water to cover. A technique I like to use to then find some fish involves a combination of two baits one to cover water and locate the fish and one to slow down and really work the area when I find them. First off is the Imperium Baits Prodigy or Phenom tube which is loaded with salt and knock out power scent paired with a 1/8oz or 1/4oz Imperium Baits tube head jig – this bait imitates the crayfish very well and its durability is awesome. It really holds up well to the beating it takes from the rocks and 10+ fish – with one tube is very common.
The way I fish this bait is similar to pulling a lindy-rig for walleyes or dragging a c-rig for largemouth. I use a 7ft medium action spinning rod paired with 14lb test braid for the main line and a 2-3ft 8-10lb test Fluorocarbon leader with good abrasion resistance. I then use my previously marked waypoints as a track and position the boat to drift with the wind across the reef with the help of the trolling motor to control my direction and vary the speed between .2 to .5 m.p.h. this technique is called dragging.
The key to this presentation is to work the bait with your rod and not your reel and try to always maintain contact with the bottom and occasionally pop it off the rocks, which can trigger some awesome reaction strikes. Now, the second I set the hook on a fish I kick in a marker buoy that I keep next to the trolling motor pedal to mark the location. It’s very common that once you find one there is usually more in the area and moving on and continuing to drag can result in a lot of missed opportunities.
Now that I have found some fish I deliver the final blow with bait number two the Imperium Baits Dropkick Worm, which is both scented and salted and floats for the perfect presentation. I like to throw this bait on a drop shot rig to precisely work the area to get every last fish that I can. This bait is awesome for this situation. This bait can be nosed hooked two ways due to its unique tail design. One way is to position the tail vertical to mimic a minnow and another is horizontal to fish it as a finesse paddle tail worm. Either way – rigged right this bait flat out drives’em crazy and puts fish in the boat!
Gear Used: Imperium Baits Phenom, Imperium Baits Prodigy, Imperium Baits Dropkick Worm
About Chad Wallace
Chad is a bass tournament angler with 10+ tournament wins, 3 team of the year titles and over 20 top 5 finishes in the past 5 years. He also guides in the Minnesota metro area and on Lake Mille Lacs and pools 2 & 4 of the Mississippi River. Chad is currently a pro staff member Imperium Baits and also a field staff member for Fishbum Outfitters. Check out Chad’s Website at www.chadwallacefishing.com