THE STRIKE ZONE
You have heard talk about keeping your bait in the strike zone, but wonder what is a strike zone? The strike zone is simply the area within that a fish, such as Bass, are willing to strike or hit a passing lure.
Many factors can affect the range or size of the strike zone such as hunger, availability of food, water clarity, water temperature, barometric pressure, sunlight, fishing pressure, boat activity and the position or effects of the moon.
These factors can make the fish active and more willing to chase your bait a greater distance, or cause them to draw tight to cover and refuse to chase anything. Therefore, you must adjust by choosing a lure presentation that remains in the strike zone longer when the fish are in this neutral mood.
For those of you that have used our Fishing Calendars from the past or have heard my talk on "Moon Charts and Weather Effects", you know how to determine the possible level of activity of fish each day.
From day to day the strike zone may change from as small as your fist to as big as a car. So, when fish are actively feeding, you can speed, but when they are just hanging out in a neutral mood or an outright negative mood, you must present the bait right in front of their nose. In fact they may need extra time to examine the bait so you will need to hold it in place longer. To do this takes time, so it is best to know where the fish are holding.
For shallow water presentations less than 6 feet, try skipping a weightless soft-plastic worm or tube into cover and under docks. This gives you the real slow fall needed with less disturbance when hitting the water. Oh yeah, do not pass up any shoreline cover even if it is just a small twig.
Topwater baits can also be kept in the strike zone for long periods by using the walk-the-dog retrieve, worked back and forth in one place. This is done by working it on a slack line and not pulling the lure to you when reeling in line. Try this technique near shoreline cover, deadfalls and open pockets in weedbeds. Soft jerkbaits are another good bait to go to when more hang time is needed. If you are fishing a clear water lake and see a cruising Bass, cast a soft jerkbait ahead of the Bass far enough so it can be worked into the path. When the fish reaches the bait, stop and let it slowly sink into the strike zone. WOW they find it hard to resist.
For deeper water presentations you must find these inactive fish and get into their strike zone. Use your electronics to locate structure that fish will hold near such as humps, breaks, stumps, rocks or other bottom objects. A Carolina rig or Drop Shot rig is a good way to cover water while keeping bait in the strike zone by making long casts, let settle to bottom and use a dragging retrieve. When you hit an object while dragging the sinker, stop the steady retrieve and crawl or shake the sinker over the object. This inching along and over objects can tease these fish to strike.
During the past few years we have discovered how effective it is to get crankbaits near the bottom and keeping it in the strike zone. The neutral buoyant crankbaits work OK for me since they do have some rise. Add SuspenDots if you wish to keep it from rising or go to a suspending bait. You want to retrieve crankbaits so they are just tapping the bottom until it hits an object, stop, let it sit, give the rod a couple twitches so the bait quivers, wait and then retrieve again.
We hope these presentations will help keep your lure in the strike zone and increase your chances of catching more fish.
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Till Next Time, GOD BLESS & GOOD FISHING.!