Cows in the shallows
By Joe Brotz (Roccus)
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My life changed forever in the spring of 1970,that was the year I caught my first striper,it was 8lbs and was caught on a bucktail jig below the Lawrence Dam,I was able to wade half way across the river,probably could have made it all the way if I were a little taller!
For the next six years i caught bass below the dam and from the surf,I suspect the water was never more than 6' deep....
In 1976 I went on a charter with Capt. Frank Sabotowski aboard the June Bug,this was wire line plug fishing...real hard core... the rips raged but the water was often 6- 10' deep....
The more I read and learned about stripers the more I realize what a shallow water dwelling fish they really are..that's what makes them a great target for the surf fisherman (or woman)
Since then Ive caught large bass over deep water structure (120') river channels (30') and offshore while tuna fishing in 220' of water....
But if I'm going to TARGET big bass...especialy at night... I keep the water my bait or lure is swimming in under 10'
Most of my bass are in 2-5', when i fish the river i look for shallow mussel beds,grass flats,creeks and rock piles, where often times bass can be seen on the surface (they have no where else to go!) Big bass are drawn to shallow water like flies to a carcass,the hunting is is there,they can pick the bait at their leisure,but thats a good thing for us as fisherman,there is a lot less water for us to cover.... Often times while I troll the surfline at night(along the ocean front), I see surfmen chucking their bait as far as they can(not the vetrans)..... I couldn't count the fish Ive caught as I tugged my eel off of the sand and it got inhaled by a giant... The biggest fish(bass) of my life was caught in just that manner, when I troll along off shore bars these areas are best at low tide, big bassy's love shallows!
On my home waters (Merrimack river Mass.) we have a broad expansive marsh system, once the grass gets high, often times it's the only place to find them!..
With the water warming up,night time is the best game in town, so get out and find some bass in the shallows you may be pleasantly surprised.
I'm quite sure if you put in an effort in your area to find the type of structure I describes here you'll find bass..... Bass are bass,their body make up is suited for that type of living,with a wide broom tail, muscle make up red and white muscle almost 50/50, where open water rangers like tuna and bluefish have a much higher percentage of red muscle and a forked tail....
as far as pleasure boating goes,if your cruising along at 20,30 or more mph what are your chances of seeing fish if your NOT looking for them,hell, I've watched people drive right by bass blitzes during the day with gulls and terns wheeling and diving and they saw NOTHING! they were too intent on where they were going, an old trick of mine (trade secret) for saving time at night when I am looking for new fish along a stretch of beach(moonless nights works best when there is fire in the water) is to cruise the last curl of the wave at night with the boat just barely up on plane,have a spotter keep an lookout,you'd be amazed at the fish you can find,you'll see them break or in the fire go zooming off,then I make a big loop and start my troll....
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