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:
It’s no secret that fishing soft plastics is a great way to catch bass, and many of my soft plastic tackle setups include a Reins slip sinker. Whether I’m throwing a Texas rig, Carolina Rig or flipping, the Reins slip sinker in tungsten is on the line.
Why do I prefer to use a Reins slip sinker?
The way their slip sinkers are constructed makes them the smallest profile available for their given weight, which helps them navigate through cover more easily. With a 95% tungsten and 5% nickel alloy, they are the among the most dense weights available.
As someone who fishes an exceptional amount of Texas rig, having a Reins slip sinker means the weight won’t fray or weaken my line. Many lower priced weights don’t have a protective insert like Reins does, which can cause a deterioration of your line as you fish.
It sounds a bit silly, but I really like the coating on the exterior of the Reins slip sinker. The colors (black and green pumpkin) are in a matte finish and is hard as nails. Some companies have coatings that will chip or are shiny – I prefer the more consistent natural look of Reins.
Reins slip sinkers are available from 1/16 to 2.5 oz sinkers, so they have the right size no matter what you are looking for. When Texas rigging I always use an Owner hook, P-Line flouro, and YUM plastics.
For more info on Reins, visit the Reins website, Facebook page, or watch this video below from JT Kenny about why he chooses Reins slip sinkers.
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.