ADDICTED BASS ANGLERS from all over the country and all over the world continue to make pilgrimages to Texas to catch a personal best bass, and Carl Jocumsen is part of that movement.
The Aussie pro moved from the other side of the globe to fish Bassmaster tournaments and now calls Frisco his home base. Since moving to the Lone Star State he’s become a dedicated swim-baiter. He relies on tips from fellow pros, California devotees, and his own hard-earned time on the water to dial in the techniques that consistently use big baits to catch bigger bass.
“Especially in Texas, it’s all about chasing big bass,” he said. “And there’s no better rule for a fish of a lifetime than big baits for big fish. In May and June, when they’re off the beds and some are still shallow, my favorite tool to catch them is a big glide bait.”
This is a very visual technique, so he typically only employs it when there’s at least three to four feet of visibility. Ideally, he’ll combine that with sunny skies and wind to create a situation where the fish set up predictably to ambush bait, but aren’t easily spooked.
Because the massive “tennis shoe” sized lures can be intimidating to newcomers, Jocumsen suggests that they start out with a six-inch bait, and something in the lower end of the price range. Lately he’s been having great success with a prototype glide bait that friend Brandon Palaniuk designed for Storm and will retail in the $30 range. Once you get comfortable with that one, “just keep increasing from there.” By the end of the year, he’ll often have just a single rod on the deck, dialed in to one 10-inch or larger glide bait.
He keeps color choices simple, trying to discern whether bass are eating big shad or big bluegills and then trying to match the hatch. On occasion he’ll throw a crappie pattern to keep them honest. If you’re only going to invest in one, he’d suggest a universal baitfish pattern—something involving silver, white and/or chrome.
Although many people “think it’s super technical,” Jocumsen said that as long as you get a good quality glide bait, “there’s not a lot you can do wrong with it. You can just cast it out and wind it back, and it will glide. They’ll usually go a foot or a foot and a half in each direction, but then when you stop it, it keeps gliding.”
Because fish are notorious for investigating but not biting these lures, he consistently tries to dial in his retrieve. He might start with a slow wind, then progress to a slow wind and a pause. After that he’ll do two fast cranks with a pause, then a slow crank, a twitch and a pause. When you really get going, these lures will “do all sorts of crazy erratic things.”
He learned from the California gurus that changes of direction and erratic motion are the triggers for getting bites. Unfortunately, if you wait until the lure is close to the boat to start that process, they’ll often see you and spook. Therefore, Jocumsen tries to envision a monster bass behind it at all times and will integrate a number of twitches into his retrieve to create those triggers.
Although you may have appropriate tackle for these larger-than-average baits, a dedicated swimbait setup will increase your hookups and decrease your fatigue at day’s end. He uses a Millerods seven-foot, eight-inch SwimFreaK, an all-around swimbait stick for lures in the four- to eight-inch class. He pairs it with a 5.8:1 gear ratio Shimano Tranx 400. The big spool enables him to make long casts and the slower than normal gears prevent him from overworking the lure.
He spools the reel up with straight 20-, 25- or 30-pound test Gamma fluorocarbon, which is abrasion-resistant. It has little memory and casts well, altering the strength to account for lure size.
Sometimes the strikes are violent and sometimes they are remarkably gentle, but either way the goal is to keep the fish pinned and get it in the boat, especially if it’s that long-awaited “Personal Best.” With a face full of trebles and a heavy body, you don’t want to give the fish an inch of leverage to make its escape.
“The reel is the key,” Jocumsen said. “With a 5.8:1 gear ratio, you’re using that as a winch. Put the rod down, start reeling, and don’t stop doing it until the fish is in the net or until you’re ready to boat flip it. You definitely don’t want that fish jumping.”
Email Pete Robbins at [email protected]