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Bill Babler
Bill Babler

Droppin' in on Table Rock Bass

As the summer heat bears down on the Ozark Mountains, and the jet and water skiers seem to have taken over our beautiful White River lakes, there are still ways to feel the tug of quality fish on that old graphite rod.

Migrating from Japan to California to the Midwest is a fishing method that really gets the drop on suspended and schooling deep water summer and fall bass. The Drop Shot technique is just a simple modification of the Carolina rig. It is extremely deadly and creates a tantalizing presentation for bunched up fish, whether they are suspended in trees suspended over deep water or on the bottom on river channel, lake humps or submerged islands.

Drop Shottin', as it is most often called, is presenting either live or soft plastic baits in a vertical presentation to fish that have been located with boat electronics. Spotted bass are a great target for the drop shotter, as they are schooling fish and most often are in the above stated locations. The rig is pretty simple -- and you can rig anyway you want -- but here is a method that has proven itself time and time again: Take a good IM8 seven-foot spinning rod spooled with 8- to 10-pound fluorocarbon line. Attach a two-way barrel swivel to the main line and then attach five feet of eight pound line as your leader. Two feet below the swivel attach a number 1 wide gap worm hook with a palmar knot. Go two more feet and attach an additional hook in the same manner, and then add a drop shot or bell sinker on the bottom. I prefer the wide gap worm hooks over the drop shot hooks because if you are presenting in the treetops, this allows you to rig the worm weedless. The wide gaps also will give you better hook-ups.

On the rock, these spotted bass are right about the thermocline at from 28 to 35 feet. You can either find them suspended in bluff treetops or in channel swings. There are some off the flats, but they are movers and shakers and are not always there. If I can’t see them on my X15, I don’t stop. Good electronics are a must for the drop shot. You are not covering lots of horizontal area as you would with a rig or a throw type bait; you are just making an up-and-down presentation to a school of fish, so you need to have them pinned down pretty well.

My two favorite drop shot baits for the rock are a four-inch zoom fineness worm in either green pumpkin or watermelon candy or a zoom dead ringer in the same colors. Lower the bait to the fish, and most times you just need to hang it there. Your natural movement with waves or just a slight shake will get the strike. As the bass bite, they will put a bend in the rod, or as we say, "Let them Load Up!" When you feel the weight, set the hook and enjoy the fight. Remember that these bass are coming up from the deep and need to be immediately returned to the water to prevent their swim bladders from overextending. Do not put them in your live wells for picture taking as they cannot tolerate that much handling.

Live bait in the form of nightcrawlers or crawfish will also work on the drop shot, but the soft plastics are most often the rig of choice. As with any summertime fishing, early is always better, and I try to be off the water by noon and yield the lake to the water skiers. Next time you are on any of the White River lakes in the summer, and think that the bass just aren’t biting, try just "Droppin-In," and I’m sure you will find there are fish at home.

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