WHEN TEMPERATURES DROP in the fall, so do bass. To get the "drop" on deep bass, anglers sometimes need to "spoon feed" them.In deep water, few angling techniques work more effectively than vertically jigging a 1/4- to 1-ounce spoon. Small, heavy and compact, a jigging spoon sinks quickly and looks like a dying shad.
"A jigging spoon is often overlooked by bass fishermen," said Roger Stegall, a professional bass angler. "Its about the most effective bait for fishing deep water. Ive actually caught largemouth bass on a jigging spoon in 55 feet of water."
A jigging spoon works exceptionally well when bass hunker down near the bottom in deep holes. However, bass sometimes hover off the bottom. Even in deep water, fish typically look skyward because they can see prey silhouetted against surface glare. Although anglers can effectively cast jigging spoons, a "flutter spoon" may be a better option when targeting suspended bass in deep water.
"A flutter spoon is not a bait that many fish typically see in the South so bass really go for it," said Dave Wolak, a professional bass angler. "I often use flutter spoons to fish rocky ledges in deep, clear lakes. In a situation where fish get on top of a ledge in current, the current positions the fish so that they relate more to the bottom. Just keep fan-casting and let it flutter to the bottom. Jerk it way up off the bottom and let it flutter down again."
Unlike a short, chunky jigging spoon, a flutter spoon consists of a long thin, oblong sheet of concave metal that may measure seven or eight inches long. It looks more like something an angler might troll in the Gulf of Mexico for king mackerel than to tempt largemouths on Lake Palestine, but largemouth lovers find their own "offshore" applications for this lure.
"Its a well-known technique for catching giant bass at Lake Fork," Wolak recalled. "Anytime Im offshore fishing in deep water around ledges, I keep a big flutter spoon handy. I look for fish on the graph. I let the spoon flutter through where the fish are and jerk it as hard as possible."
Made more for casting than a vertical jigging presentation, a flutter spoon works best in deep lakes with hard bottoms, rock piles, ledges, humps and creek channels such as Amistad, Falcon or Fork. In lakes with more submerged grass, like Lake Conroe, Toledo Bend or Sam Rayburn, anglers can still work flutter spoons. Dont throw a spoon into the weeds, but try to wobble it just over the submerged grass tops or along the edges.
Even in shallow weedy areas such as along the Texas coast, anglers might find places to throw flutter spoons. In marshes and estuaries, many pipeline canals, bayous, rivers and shipping channels often hold deep water, frequently lined with rocky or grassy shorelines that drop off sharply. Run a flutter spoon parallel to the drops or along riprap shorelines.
While anglers can use flutter spoons to tempt bass in the shallows, the bait works best for targeting bass suspended in deep water, often the most difficult fish to catch. Suspended bass typically means inactive fish. They might not rise to strike topwaters or see Texas-rigged worms and jigs dragging bottom far below them, but they might smack something passing irresistibly close.
"Frequently, big bass suspend in water more than 30 feet deep and are nearly impossible to catch with anything but a flutter spoon," Wolak explained. "When bass suspend, look for arches on the graph about halfway between the surface and the bottom."
In early fall, threadfin shad often migrate up creek channels in major reservoirs. Anglers may see schooling bass chasing shad and churning the surface. Flutter spoons work exceptionally well for tempting schooling bass. Even after the bass stop attacking shad on the surface, largemouths often follow shad schools, suspending just beneath the baitfish waiting to strike targets of opportunity.
"A spoon is a good fall pattern when the shad start to group up in the mouths of creeks," Wolak said. "With a flutter spoon, I jerk it right through the school. I jerk it way up off the bottom and let it flutter down again. Eventually, it will fall in a certain way that looks like a big shad to a hungry lunker largemouth. Quite often, that action triggers strikes from fish that wouldnt hit anything else."
Cast a spoon where schooling fish appeared and let it sink several feet. A flutter spoon sinks with a horizontal wobble or flutter, like a large dying shad. The sunshine glints off the metal, creating fish-attracting flash. Anglers could allow the spoon to hit bottom or let it sink halfway to where fish suspend. After it hits bottom or the correct depth, jerk it vigorously several feet up through the water column and let it sink again.
Pro angler Dave Wolak with a bass he caught using a flutter spoon while fishing a south Texas lake. Photo: John N. Felsher
If possible, keep working a spoon up through the baitfish school. As a spoon flutters down beneath a baitfish school, it might provoke a reaction strike as it passes through the correct depth. Experiment with different retrieval speeds and depths to see what works best.
Flutter spoons also work well in reservoirs where giant bass feed heavily upon larger gizzard shad like Lake Texoma. Flutter spoons probably entice fewer hits than jigging spoons, but usually attract bigger largemouths and stripers feeding on more substantial prey.
"A big flutter spoon really stands out in a school of shad," Wolak advised. "Its a big, wide bait with a long profile. I use it when bass are feeding upon big baitfish like gizzard shad. Because its such a big bait, it also tends to attract bigger fish."
Since fish most often strike spoons as the bait falls in the water column, let it sink on a relatively slack line, but pay attention to any adverse line movements. Anglers many not even feel the strike or just feel a slight thump, but if the line stops prematurely before hitting bottom or moves in a contrary way, set the hook!