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Fishing Tide Water for Bass

Dear Jim,

I really like the site & the no nonsense articles.

I bought some of your swimming worms & I've been fishing them, but I haven't had much success with them. I fished with them two weeks ago and caught one and lost one. I forgot to check the drag and the bass lunged and ripped the hook out of his mouth I believe. This past Saturday I only took two rods (8' crank bait & swimming worm rigged with 1/16th oz bullet weight) & was determined to get some experience with the swimming worm.

I was fishing with a friend in Dog River, which is a tributary of Mobile Bay in Alabama. We started fishing at about 6:00AM and high tide was at about 9:00AM. The first stop was a very small island on the outside edge of a channel bend in Rabbit Creek (feeds Dog River). The island is on the edge of a large flat 1' ~ 2' and the channel which is approx. 10' takes a 90 degree turn right in front of the island. There is a small ledge with some cypress knees and a laydown log or two on the channel side of the island, with a nice drop into the channel. The incoming tide was creating nice current in the bend of the channel. The water was lightly stained and threw the purple worm.

This was the first time I had discovered this location, all other times I had driven right past it. When I realized the setup, I just knew we would do well there, and I still have confidence in the location even though we didn't catch any fish. We fished both sides of the channel there, a 50 yards above and below the point on the inside bend and around the island on the outside bend. My friend was alternating between a top-water and Texas rigged lizard & I was throwing the swimming worm. Well, neither of us got a bass bite, but I did catch a small gar.

One thing that I'm not sure of is how salty the water is there. I know that some one recently caught a bunch of white trout upstream from there, but someone else recently caught two keeper bass down stream at the mouth of the creek. Do the bass move upstream as the saltwater intrudes late in summer & fall?

We fished other areas of Rabbit Creek were I've caught fish within the last two months, but no bites. We also fished a point further up Dog River about 9:30AM and I switched to the crank bait after working the area with the worm. I caught a keeper bass in about 2' ~ 3' off wood cover with the crankbait. After two passes shallow we moved out into the channel and worked the drop with the crankbaits and I picked up another keeper from about 7" of water. I had to leave at 10:30AM.

The reason I've given you all this info is because I've read you articles on tide water bassin' and I'm trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I'm hoping that you may have some insight that can help me. Would you please share any thoughts of what I might be doing wrong?

Thanks, Daren L. Constantine
PS - I have attached an aerial photo of the island with the channel bend on the north side. Am I nuts or does that look like a great spot to catch tide water bass.

Dear Darren:

Tidal water is pretty consistent in areas of current. Moving water, with depth and eddy water adjacent to it usually has some fish. Really great hotspots ALWAYS have something that breaks the flow and provides a holding spot. It may be a hump or gravel bar in the current, or a weir or old barge at the channel edge. It is hard to tell. But, once you find the places, the fish will almost always be there under the same tide conditions.

It sounds like you did not do too well on any lure, so don' count the swimming worm rig out. Once you get started with it, it may well be your primary lure. It is that effective, especially in shallow water with cover and in tidal waters. I would go back up some feeder creeks/drainages until the nearly play out and then fish my way out of them on a falling tide. Usually, these type channels will have very sharp, tight turns way back up where they are small. In the outside bends of these turns, there will always be the deepest water. It may only be a few feet deep and the whole channel may be no wider than the boat back in there, but the bass will still be there. The 1/16th oz sinker may be too large and have you reeling too fast. Try something smaller. Really fish that lure slowww -- and around 2-3 feet deep. The channel bend in the picture is hard to see well, but I can make it out, I think. I see some really good-looking canals/channels going back to some docks. Be sure to work those. Thy have a lot of potential.

I don't know how to measure for salinity and what would be too much for bass. In general, they won't migrate to and from salt areas. They will have a general boundary and feeding locations already in water hey can handle. If you catch one bas, there are more. I have caught speckled trout, flounder, sharks, snook and bass from the same waters. BUT, it was always the saltwater fish that moved to he more fresh water and not the bass moving to salt.

Good luck.

Jim Porter

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