By Jonathan LePera
Special to BassFan
Jared Lintner grew up fishing large West Coast bodies of water like the San Joaquin (California) Delta and smaller lakes like Lopez, both of which receive an immense amount of fishing pressure.
As one of the original Bassmaster Elite Series anglers, he’s now a seasoned veteran and there isn’t much that surprises him anymore. One thing that he still struggles to understand, though, is why anglers don’t make a greater effort with their casts.
Every cast is an opportunity to learn or succeed and it’s easy to take each one for granted, but when money is on the line, it’s best to make every one count.
When fish are pressured, they lock down in safer surroundings and can be more difficult to reach with the average cast. Sling a lure from an angle they haven’t seen before, Linter says, and you might just blindside them into biting.
A current seam, break, or an eddy are keys to look for, Lintner says.
“I think current makes fish easier to target,” he said. “The majority of fish will tuck behind a rock or a log and ambush anything that comes by.”
Lopez is his home lake and can get notoriously windy because it sweeps off the ocean and blows down the canyon.
“For years we’ve dealt with this brutal wind and it’s only a little bitty lake,” Lintner said.
The Spot Lock feature on his Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motor is a valuable tool when fishing in any sort of current. He recalled a trip to Lopez when he caught one bass after another that were holding the underwater current off the backside of a point with a jig and swimbait and never budging because of Spot Lock.
Lintner has witnessed largemouth suspend around any horizontal object, be it a tree, dock, or blown over reeds when the sun is directly overhead.
“When the sun is overhead, less is shaded, so the key spots are in the shade line,” he said. “That is where the aggressive fish will be sitting.”
When it’s overcast, he’ll have a buzzbait, a walking bait like a Spook or a bladed jig ready because they all excel at covering water quickly and efficiently. Whether it’s hitch at Clear Lake or baitfish in general, they’ll always roam and bass will always chase them down to feed.
“Bass are creatures of habit, but a feeding fish is going to position himself different than a fish that isn’t hungry,” Lintner added. “An aggressive fish will be behind something ready to hit anything that goes by.”
If he’s fishing in the middle of a flat and stumbles upon a subtle change in the bottom, be it a little grass line, or a little rise, Lintner recognizes it could hold fish.
“It creates its own kind of eddy where the water being pushed by the wind is calm before the target log, rock, or structure and bass will get right in front of it,” he said.
Those are areas to zero in on.
What’s also important is how an angler approaches each of the targets. Lintner consistently witnesses anglers make a pitch to the sweet spot near a log instead of first probing the outer perimeter. Doing so allows you to utilize the current to your advantage.
“If you cast beyond it or in front, you may catch a bunch of fish off the outside as opposed to starting in the center and spooking all the other fish on that piece of structure as you drag it out,” he said.
Anytime fish are eating a lipless crankbait or jerkbait, some anglers tend to fish the same spots from the same angles to avoid getting snagged in trees and bushes. Instead, Lintner approaches the same key spots that anglers before him have fished, but he’ll present lures from angles that are difficult for others to make.
“It’s human nature, but the fish get conditioned,” he said. “Overall, humans are lazy, they don’t want to work that hard to get that bite. I’ve watched people fish a dock where I know fish live and they won’t bite. I’ll wait for them to leave and go and catch a big one.”
Trying to follow a visible fish isn’t always the easiest task. Lintner avoids ever casting directly at them. If he sees a fish as he’s scoping out a bank, he’ll stay extremely still, take his foot off the trolling motor and let the boat drift by while watching the fish.
“I’ll wait until his head is pointed away from me,” he said. “Then I’ll make the presentation 3 to 6 feet in front of him and bring the bait to him. If he sees the boat and is just following, I’ll keep going down the bank, and return in 4 or 5 minutes and make a cast from way off.”
At the Delta, most anglers cast to tule berms from deep water to shallow. Instead, he’ll use his outboard to motor to the middle of the mat and cast towards deep water after letting the area settle down.
“It makes such a huge difference,” he said. “I catch a lot of fish in the same mats guys have fished. A natural frog isn’t always coming from the bank.”
Lintner pointed to Jason Christie’s last day charge at the Potomac River Elite Series in 2016, when he bagged a tournament-best 23-01 limit. As Lintner recalls, Christie was fishing a huge mat and he would run his boat on plane, kill the motor, and basically run through the heart of the mat or the “cheese,” as some refer to it. He’d sit in the middle of it and never put his trolling motor down for 20 minutes before casting.
“Guys were casting towards him yet no one else got paid out of there,” Lintner said. “He didn’t move his boat for an hour and 35 minutes one day.”
To prevent further detection by fish, Lintner always keeps a push pole in his boat. He’ll sneak along the reeds and use the pole to position himself in the middle of the mat with his back to the shoreline.
Years ago, while fishing a California lake with swimbait legend Matt Newman, the latter would position the boat on a point and cast outward.
“He caught 11- and 13-pound largemouth and was throwing a swimbait out 80 to 100 feet and they choked it,” Lintner recalled. “I was in shock. They never saw that bait coming from that direction.”