How to Be Stealthy when Fishing Shallow
Texas bass fishing professional Ray Hanselman is rarely alone in his shallow fishing, but he’s often more productive than many working an area before or after him because he’s hyper-cautious about minimizing his presence and fishing stealthy in shallow water.
Hanselman has a couple of specific strategies. One involves specific settings for his electronics, while the other addresses quiet baits. Combining these thoughts gives him the perfect plan for targeting pressured fish, as well as those pouting in the post-frontal funk.
Noting that he fishes a lot of community areas, Hanselman can often overcome the crowded-water curse by giving himself a sonic advantage. Recently, he applied this strategy during a third-place finish in the recent Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn.
“With my Humminbird electronics and Lakemaster chip, you can set your depths where it matches the lake your fishing and set the color shades to the depth you want to target, plus or minus 5 feet — or even tighter,” he explained
“On Rayburn, the inside grass edge was in about 4 feet and the outside edge was in 7, so I shaded that zone, turned off my sonar and just used the mapping. I’d just look down to make sure I was in that green color I’d selected and 90 percent of the time, I was in the right place.”
Giving himself sufficient visual reference without the sonar ping often allows him shots at fish that flee boats that are actually graphing the grass.
“That keeps me pretty quiet when I’m fishing and even though there are people all around me, I end up catching fish,” he said. “In shallow water that gets pounded a lot, those fish will hear your sonar, so they go into catatonic mode and shut down. When they don’t want to bite anyway, letting them know your close gives them more reason not to bite.”
Preferring the Strike King Rage Swimmer, Hanselman fishes the 4 3/4-inch model on a 1/8-ounce belly-weighted hook and pairs the 5 3/4-inch bait with a 1/4-ounce hook.
“I use just enough weight to slow roll the bait and keep contact with the grass,” he said. “It’s still a reaction bite — it’s just a silent reaction bite.”
Of course, distance is always the sugar that sweetens a bass’s sour mood, so Hanselman doesn’t mind a little give-and-take on the tackle side.
“I want to make super-long casts because the boat makes noise, especially with waves slapping,” he said. “I’m not a finesse fisherman by any stretch, but I will go down from 20-pound fluorocarbon to 15, so I can make a 60-yard cast instead of a 30-yard cast.”
Visual acuity further refines his precision presentation. Hanselman lauds the clarity of his Costa Rx prescription sunglasses for helping him look ahead of his fishing area and staying clear of bass and cover that might hold bass furthering his quite approach to fishing for bass in shallow water.