(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)
In his years of guiding for bass, FLW Tour pro Casey Scanlon has learned that “these fish move around all the time.” That’s a critical understanding for a guide because he has to put his clients on fish in a hurry. It also came into play when the FLW Tour visited Lake Champlain for the last regular season event of the year. Scanlon hadn’t been there before, but by keeping an open mind and adjusting to falling water he took home the first tour-level win of his career.
He also ran to Ticonderoga, where many pundits predicted the tournament would most certainly not be won.
It’s been a rainy year throughout much of the country, so as that precipitation slows, waters start to drop. A week before the FLW Tour event, Champlain was 7 feet above normal pool, but falling water meant the fish repositioned every day.
At the water’s peak level, Scanlon couldn’t see the grass, but he pinned down his quarry. “Those fish were pushed up using the available shoreline cover,” he said. There were several key stretches of rock and productive points that produced much of his early catch, using a stick worm, a square-bill, a swim jig and – perhaps most notably – an Original ChatterBait. The current was strong and that had the bass positioned predictably.
On day 2 he encountered slower current and many of his “gimme” points failed to produce. A key moment during the day occurred when he saw a single shad skip out of the water near a clump of offshore grass. He slid out, caught three in a row, and took the clue and ran with it. After that, inside grass lines continued to produce but the fish completely “slid off that rock.”
His best inside grass lines stopped producing on day 4, so he went to another one a little bit further off the main river. It was ultra-shallow and didn’t give up the goods, but the outside edge quickly gave up two quality bass. “At this time I’m kind of putting it all together,” he said. Those critical adjustments, relocating the same general groups of fish in mostly the same areas, day after day, allowed him to win by just over a pound and a half. Had he not made any of those changes, or noticed key clues like the flipping shad, fellow competitors Eric Jackson or perennial top-5 finisher Bryan Thrift might have claimed the crown.
When the FLW media crew took Scanlon back out on the water for “Day 5” after the tournament was over, he could see that the conditions had changed even more. More of the underwater vegetation was topped out, and while he hadn’t employed a frog during the event, he was pretty sure that if he’d been fishing that week it would’ve played a big role in his efforts.
If you want to learn some of the other keys to Scanlon's breakthrough win, including his tackle choices and the particulars of his “old-school ChatterBait, check out his full video, filmed live at ICAST, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.