When bass are done spawning, most anglers try to intercept them between the bedding areas and their deep summertime haunts, but veteran pro Bill Lowen said that for many of the biggest fish there’s a slightly-out-of-the-way stop on the route there, and it allows him to utilize one of his favorite tools. As other anglers look out away from the bank, Lowen turns his attention even shallower.
“It’s a funky time of year,” he said. “The fish are in transition. They’re heading from the spawning areas to the ledges, but there are also a bunch of fish that go really, really shallow to laydowns and stumps.”
Anytime that trip takes them to water less than three feet deep, one of the first lures he reaches for is his signature Ima Square Bill crankbait.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s around laydowns, bushes or grass lines,” he said. “You can fish it fast and erratic to trigger a reaction bite. Those fish aren’t feeding all of the time, so a lure that hunts and deflects that much will trigger them more often than not.” He crashes it into cover, treating it like a four wheel drive vehicle, and because it runs shallower than many other square-billed lures, it won’t pick up the bottom muck prevalent in silted-in backwaters. Just as importantly, it excels in all water colors and comes in paint patterns meant to imitate a wide variety of forage – chartreuse and black is his go-to, with the various shad patterns getting the call in clearer water, but around bream beds he’s a huge fan of Ima’s hyper-realistic bluegill paint jobs, which look real enough to swim away.
In order to facilitate all day casting, whether it be at tight angles or long distances to cover big stumpy flats, Lowen wants the lightest rod and reel combo possible to ensure that no fatigue ensues. He starts it off with a 7 foot medium heavy Castaway Skeleton baitcasting rod. Affixed to its reel seat is the new Lew’s Tournament Pro G Speed Spool ACB casting reel, which weighs a mere 6.2 ounces. He prefers a 6.8:1 gear ratio, which allows him to burn the lure when that’s necessary, but also enables him to grind it through thick cover deliberately if that’s what the fish demand. He doesn’t adjust the depth the lure runs with his rod angle, but rather by altering the size of his line – 12 pound test HI-SEAS fluorocarbon when he wants to eke out a few more inches on the dive, and 15 when he’s content to have it run super-shallow, or when tangling with especially big bass.