When the weather heats up for summer it is time to break out the Carolina Rig to catch bass. Finding the bass can be difficult in the summer and getting them to bite can be even more challenging. One thing I really like about Carolina Rig summer bass fishing is how versatile it can be – allowing me to fish it quickly in areas to locate bass, but also can really slow it down to entice a bite.
For my Carolina Rig summer setup I use a fairly lightweight and downsized rig. For the weight I’ll use a 1/2 oz Reins tungsten slip sinker. Using a tungsten sinker allows you to really feel the bottom to detect cover, and the Reins slip sinker comes with an insert which reduces abrasion of your fishing line. For line, especially at night I like to use the extra strong P-Line CXX co-polymer line with t blacklight visibility.
For the hook, I use the super sharp Owner hooks, and the size will vary from 3/0 to 5/0 depending on what bait i’m adding to the Carolina Rig. Add in a swivel, beads and a mono leader and you are all set. Leader length also varies, but I’ll generally have a longer leader in daytime and a shorter leader at night. Type of rod can vary to taste, but overall I will use a Dobyns jig rod so it is stiff enough to cast the rig as far as possible.
Plastics for Carolina Rig Summer Bass Fishing
One of the great things about a Carolina Rig is how many options you have for plastic baits. Although I have some favorites, it can be good to have a few options available and cycle through them until you can determine what the bass will bite. Some of the YUM bait options I’ll use include a Ribbontail worm, YUM Dinger, Christie Craw or a Wooly Hawg Craw.
Good luck with your Carolina Rig summer bass fishing!
Predictions prior to this year’s river focused event said that there would be a lot of fish caught, and some big limits turned in. These predictions were mostly correct regarding the Natural State Kayak Angler’s River Road Runner from the weekend. Due to the heavy canoe and tube traffic on some area rivers in June this should be called the “Ya’ll catching anything?” event. For the most part, NSKA fishermen were able to say “Heck, yeah!”
In the tournament preview article, Jeff Malott and Sam Philip almost hit big bass on the nose, while Sam was ultimately the closest in predicting the winning length.
On a sunny, breezy, day in June, 26 of 38 (64%) anglers were credited with a limit. Although there were some big fish caught, there weren’t very many. Only five fish 17″ or larger were caught, by a total of four anglers. Having a good kicker was key to placing near the top in this event.
I was lucky enough to finish 1st for this event with 81.5″, Dwain Batey 2nd with 78.75″ and Jonathan Brewer 3rd with a solid 76.25″ limit. Big Bass was won by John Evans with a 20.25″ largemouth, while I won runner-up Big Bass with a 20″ largemouth.
The Top 10 looked like this:
Jason – Not knowing hardly any rivers in the area at all, I went to the Elk River, the one with which I had at least some experience. Started out throwing my favorite baits (topwater) but only caught a few small ones. After switching to a squarebill I caught a 17″ off a log, and was catching some others off wood with a ned rig. One of these bass had a large craw claw (2.75 inches! Who knew they had crawdads that big in the Elk?) in its throat that had a blue/green color to it. This clued me in to what they were feeding on, so at this point I pulled out a YUM worm in blue laminate with a claw-like tail. From that point forward I spent most of the rest of the day dragging that worm slowly around logs and wood.
My biggest fish, a 20″ largemouth bass came off some submerged brush and when I hooked it I was sure it was a gar or catfish or something because it just would not surface. Once I caught this fish a bit after noon, I knew it might be possible to contend. About 30 minutes before the end of regulation I hooked a 15.25″ to cull a 13″ and was hoping at that point that I had enough to place a top three. Four of my top five fish came from that worm imitating the craw claw, so I was very fortunate to spot that and have a great YUM bait to turn to. The rest of that rig setup was a 3/8 oz Reins slip sinker, Owner all-purpose worm hook, 12lb P-Line CXX Floro, Shimano Curado70 and Dobyns rod.
Dwain – Last year was my first year to fish kayak tournaments and the River Road Runner event last year was by far my worst finish, so this year I really wanted to make a better showing. I had intended to pre-fish some rivers in the year between these events, but never did. So I got on trusty GoogleEarth and tried to find an area within bounds that looked like it was deep enough to use my pedal drive and might hold larger fish. I settled on an area of the Illinois River in Oklahoma near Watts that looked like it would be a good fit.
I started off the morning throwing a buzz bait, and it paid off quickly with a limit of fish, including my best of the day a 17.75 inch largemouth. I milked the buzz bait bite most of the day, but shortly after catching my best Smallmouth bass of the day on it I discovered an area that I could catch fish on a crankbait. It was an area about 200 yards long that was around 4 or 5 feet deep from the shore out to about 10 feet from the bank, and then also had a flat where the water became shallow between two pools. I first found the fish in the shallow area, and then followed this area up the bank. I was cranking the Skirmish Baits MP7 (a small squarebill), and it was producing both Smallmouth and Spotted Bass. I caught about 10 fish on my first pass, and one of them was a nice Smallmouth that gave me a decent cull. A second pass produced more fish but no culls, so I switched to an M9 squarebill which is a larger profile, and caught a very nice Spotted Bass on the same run with the larger bait. That was my final cull of the day, and I was more than happy to get a 2nd place finish in a river event since 99% of my fishing is on lakes. The area I found happens to be really close to my house, and I’ll probably go back during the year and refine my knowledge of the area, and up my river fishing game.
Jonathan – I chose the Elk River to fish this event this year, and started off fishing a topwater bait. Caught a limit within the first 30 minutes and two of those I was able to use for my best five. After that they were still busting the topwater but I think they were seeing it too well so I switched to my personal go-to bait on rivers and creeks (the Wiggle Wart). I was able to add three more decent fish to my limit on that bait. Overall, I couldn’t tell you how many fish I caught – it was a blast.
River Valley – Lee Creek
On the same day as the NWA event, those in the River Valley had an NSKA river event on Lee Creek. I’ve fished there twice now, one time was good, one time was really bad. Looks like they had a tough day out there, with only four of 16 entrants turning in a limit. The winners were:
Was doing some Lake Wilson fishing at the local Thursday night yakpot and caught this 5.5 lb largemouth bass on a Rebel Pop-R to win Big Bass for the evening. I was fishing back in the flat where the creeks run in and was throwing a Heddon Zara Spook when this giant blew up on it but missed. Grabbed the Pop-R and threw it in there letting it sit with a couple of small twitches and then it was pulled under.
My full gear setup on the Zara Spook rod included 12 lb P-Line Floroclear, Owner Stinger Trebles, Dobyns crankbait rod and Fish Allure scented tab. For the Pop-R I had 10 lb P-Line Floroclear, Owner Stinger Trebles, Dobyns crankbait rod and my awesome Shimano Citica baitcast reel. Like always, I had my MTI life jacket on board and on my body – wear a life jacket!
Was tough that night with Lake Wilson Fishing, but this big bite made it worth the trip.
First round of night fishing for the year and hit a jackpot with this FAT 21.25″ largemouth. Caught in transition from deep water to spawning areas by hopping the YUM Thumpn’ Dinger along the bottom. Gear setup: 3/0 Owner Worm Hook, 1/4 oz Reins tungsten weight, 15 lb P-Line CSX, Dobyns worm rod, Shimano Citica reel.
Winter had one more blast of icy air to launch the Natural State Kayak Anglers into the 2017 season on Swepco Lake. With air temperatures at 29 degrees at take-off and water temps ranging from 68-75 degrees across the hot water lake, it was an interesting setup for the day.
As discussed in this previous article, historically Swepco Lake has not been friendly to recent kayak tournaments. This year was a different story as many fish were caught, including several big ones. Of the 61 anglers who entered, 85% turned in a score-able fish and 44% turned in a limit. Overall a great day of fishing on Swepco Lake, evidenced by 260 fish caught which included eight big fish at 20+ inches.
First place went to Rob Barnica with 89″ and second to Baron Meek with 88.5″ who both fished most of the day up around the discharge area near the power plant. I came in third place with 87.25″ while David Preston took fourth with 83.75″ and Ethan Dhuyvetter with 82.5″ was fifth.
Rob, Baron and David did not provide a tournament recap, but here are mine and Ethan’s look back at the day.
Jason – A week or so out from the tournament I was feeling pretty solid on a game plan, but that was thrown out when the weather took a nasty turn that weekend. Knowing they had the generators running most of the night before it was clear that bass would be feeding early up toward the discharge but I decided to avoid the crowd and to try and find more unmolested water down on the dam end of the lake.
I wasted some time throwing a bit of topwater and tried a few other different things but did not really get settled in until mid-morning and figured out that a combination of some different YUM plastic baits (Thumpn’ Dinger and Kill Shot) on Owner hooks was the way to go. Most fish were in 12-8 feet of water and bit on a slow-moving presentation. The bite was good until about 11:30 when the clouds began to break up and then once the sun fully emerged the bite shut off for me. As a last gasp effort to pick up a couple of inches I went up to the discharge area for the last hour but couldn’t cull a fish.
Ethan – I decided to fish this event because I thought it would be a great way to meet people and get out on a lake I’ve never been to. I was very hesitant because of the cruddy weather we had the day prior but opted to fish last minute. Having never fished a kayak tournament, I was a bit nervous that I would screw something up, but Jeff explained everything well so I had no issues.
When I got out, I figured an A Rig would work but after hearing the water temp, I quickly put that down and started tossing a jig. A football jig and a drop shot Roboworm accounted for all my fish. The fishing seemed to be best when there was cloud cover. I was catching my fish on transition banks in 5-10 ft of water, they all seemed to be pre-spawn to me which I found odd with the water temps as high as they were.
Caught this Arkansas largemouth bass while kayak bass fishing at Swepco Lake. Hooked it in two feet of water using a Bandit 100 in Green Speckled Craw pattern armed with Owner Stinger treble hooks. Was 20″ and weighed 5.55 pounds.
Gear setup: Hobie Pro Angler 12, Bending Branches Pro Angler Paddle, Dobyns Fury Rod, P-Line 12lb Floroclear, Owner Stinger Trebles and Fish Allure Scented tab applied to back of bait.
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Fishing in Arkansas during January can be a hit or miss situation with the weather. One day it could be mild and in the 50s and the next day you may encounter sleet and ice and below freezing temperatures. One thing that you can count on is lake water temps dropping well into the low 40s and even the high 30s in some small lakes.
This is a great time of year to do some trout fishing in Northwest Arkansas, either in the White River tailwaters of Beaver or Table Rock lake or in some select clear water lakes in the area like Lake Atalanta in Rogers.
As primarily a bass fisherman I don’t own a fly rod, but you can use some bass techniques for some easy trout fishing. One of these techniques is to fish Carolina-style, but with a different and more finesse setup.
One of the keys to making this work is to have a good quality sharp hook in the appropriate size. When using an egg-style floating bait, I’d select an Owner Mosquito Hook in size 8, or size 6 if you prefer. These Owner hooks are reliable and needle-sharp which is critical in a situation like this. They also have very small barbs that are easily pinched down depending on the waters you fish. If your local tackle store doesn’t carry these, you can find Owner Hooks on Tackle Warehouse.
Simply set up your rig by using a lightweight spinning rod and Shimano reel and attach a small swivel to a 4lb (try P-Line) leader with a small bullet weight and glass bead on the main line. Tie your Owner Mosquito hook to your leader, making it anywhere from 1 to 3 feet depending on water depth. Apply your floating bait egg
on the hook, adjusting so just the tip of the hook is showing.
To fish it, simply toss it upstream in a current allowing it to then slowly bounce along back to you, taking up slack as it goes. This is a great system for fishing ponds or lakes with trout because you can either cast it out and leave it until you get a bite, or periodically move it a bit. The floating bait will look like a natural snack for the trout. Once you get a bite, the sharp Owner hook doesn’t require a strong hookset.
Give this technique a try the next time you want to try some trout fishing on a cold day. It’s an easy transition for a bass fisherman to find some success with trout.