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Swimbait Tips and Tactics for Big Spots with "Triton Mike" Bucca (continued)

One other tidbit of info is to know where spotted bass like to hold on a lay down. Nine times out of ten, the big spots will be holding at the very end of a lay down. Most of your largemouth are usually within the lay down. But spots like the deepest part at the end of the lay down. This is why it is important to make long accurate casts with big swimbaits. Accurate so that you don't hang up in the lay down and long so that when your bait clears the lay down that you, number one, give the spot time to get from the deeper water to your bait, number two, time to play with it, and number three, time to finally commit without seeing you standing in your boat. So as you can see you have to be anal about boat position. It's too dang easy to get too close to your target so that you can pick it apart with short casts. But those big spots are a different breed of fish and require a different approach with the key being longer, more accurate casts.  

A 8 inch Triple Trout with a Lunker City Finesse Tail as a trailer, along with a prototype 6 and 8 inch Hampton Shad

Cal: What are some of your favorite swimbaits for targeting spots? Do you perform customize any of your baits and if so, in what way?

Bucca: I knew you were going to ask this! My favorite three baits for spots are by far the Triple Trout, Huddleston Deluxe Trout, and the Hampton Shad. One thing that I have noticed in the swimbait industry is there arenít very many swimbaits that cater to the Eastern anglers. We have gizzard shad, threadfin and blue backs as our primary forage. But with most of the swimbait manufacturers being out West it's understandable most swimbaits are patterned after trout..  

The Triple Trouts I use the most are eight and ten inch versions. I don't use the bait stock at all. I swap out the stock VMC hooks for 2X Owners and I replace the tail with a Lunker City Finesse fish which has a forked tail to mimic the gizzard and threadfin tail. I actually feel that the Triple Trout action is BETTER and more wicked with that Lunker City Tail. When you add the Lunker City Tail you actually add about 3 inches to the bait. So technically the eight incher becomes eleven inches and the ten incher becomes thirteen inches in overall length 

As for the Huddleston type baits, I heavily stinger and modify my baits depending on how I am fishing them. If I am bottom bouncing a ROF 12, I stinger a #1 2X Owner hook a few inches behind the stock hook with wire and crimps. If I am fishing for suspended fish, where the fish is going to be coming up at the bait, I evenly spread out two, #1 2X owner hooks on the belly of the bait using 80 pound fluorocarbon and crimps. That way when they do come up and hit the bait they hit the hooks first.  

Alot of people ask me why donít I use wire instead of fluorocarbon? Well when fishing clear water I want my bait to appear as natural as possible. Fluorocarbon blends in better with a white belly than leader wire. I also have gotten in the habit of painting my hooks and paper clip securements WHITE as well, again to blend into the belly of the bait. Does it help? Who knows, I would like to think that it doesnít hurt. We are talking big fish so I donít want to take the chances of having a once in a lifetime fish following and not commit due to something I could have done differently with concealment. 

Here is Triton Mike's basic stinger box. Full of various sizes of 2X VMC Owner hooks, heavy duty hyper wire split rings are mandatory! 80lb Triple Fish fluorocarbon leader material, Paper clips to secure the leader material and keep it flush with the bait. Split ring pliers, crimp pliers and crimps. Sharpie marker to color the leader material along the back of the bait so that it blends in.

The one thing I have learned about spots is they have a small mouth. Actually a six pound spot has a mouth about the size as a two to three pound largemouth so they can't totally engulf a big bait like a largemouth can, so having stinger hooks on the bigger baits is very important. One key thing here is I always keep a 100 yd leader wheel of 80lb Fluorocarbon and a spool of wire in my boat. This makes it easy to install or change stinger hooks while on the water and the fluorocarbon leader wheels are cheaper than buying bigger spools and it fit easily into your swimbait bag. I have a Plano box full of stinger equipment that I have with me at all times to perform on the water changes as necessary.   

Now the Hampton Shad has been a long term project that my partner and I have been working on for almost a year and a half. Like I said earlier, there really arenít many baits that mimic threadfin and gizzard shad so we thought this would fill a niche. We are still in the prototype stages of this bait with hopes of coming to the market if everything lines up like I am hoping. I wanted something with a shad profile and a shad action. The key here is to match the hatch of what the big spots are feeding on. Electro fishing studies with our local DNR tell us that the #1 forage for the big spots is big GIZZARDS! We have a six and a eight inch sized baits in a medium fall rate and are working on production solutions as we speak. I have a few prototypes out in the field as we speak and I will say that even Gary Dobyns was impressed.  

Cal: Well, you know our audience is all about the tackle, so what rod, reel, and line are you using? 

Bucca: My all time favorite swimbait setup is a Dobyns Rod 795ML with a Shimano Calcutta 300 or 400 TE. I use 25lb Triple Fish X-Rated line on all of my setups. The rod was designed by Legendary Trophy Bass Hunter Mike Long and is one of the most versatile rods on the market. It can throw everything from a 6 inch Hampton Shad all the way to a ROF 16 Hudd and everything in between. I also have two 806ML's that I use for slinging Hudds in open water where accuracy is not nearly as important. That extra few inches in rod lenght helps get me a few more yards in casting distances to help expand the strike zone for those pocket picking spots. 

A nice 6.3lb spot caught on the 8 inch Hampton Shad last year

Cal: What's the best time of year in your area, for targeting trophy spots? 

Bucca: While we catch spots here all year around, my favorite time of the year is by far Spring and Fall. Once our water temps reach close to 60 degrees the bottom falls out and the swimbait bite is full bore. My absolute favorite way to catch big spots is by waking a big swimbait about 2 feet under the surface and watching a big spot annihilate the bait. You just havenít lived until you have seen a big spot or largemouth hit a swimbait in plain view. Topwater has nothing on swimbait fishing!

Cal: Do you pay attention to weather conditions and moon phase in your trophy hunting pursuits and if so, what are the ideal confluence of events that have brought you maximum success? 

Bucca: The main thing I pay attention to weather wise is the wind. Where most folks like to throw spinnerbaits on windy points, windblown pockets and over humps I like to throw a swimbait in those types of conditions. Wind pushes around micro organisms and the baitfish follow these micro organisms to feed which in turn draws the bass. So those areas are what I key in on during windy days. It actually congregates the fish making it easier to find their location to pick them off. Also mud lines or drainages after a hard rain are other good patterns to run. All sorts of critters come into the lake on those run off areas and help concentrate the fish a lot as well. Other than that I fish when I can regardless of the weather condition.  

Cal: Mike, thanks so much for taking the time out with us and sharing with our readers, the exciting pursuit of trophy sized spotted bass. In closing, is there anything you'd like to share with our readers? 

Bucca: Cal it's always good to talk fishing with a friend. I've been a avid reader of the Tackle Tour and your forum for quite some time and the information provided is invaluable to all anglers. 

As for last words of advice, after reading a lot of the swimbait forums on the Internet and through my various seminars the biggest apprehension I hear from anglers is their thinking of a bait being too big for their local pond or lake. I remember thinking at one time that a Lucky Craft Real California was HUGE and it's only a 5 inch bait! It didn't take me long to move up to the eight inch range as the fish quickly told me that eight inches can be like a small dessert! Now I am often throwing baits in the ten to thirteen inch range fairly regularly.  

A three pound largemouth or spot won't even think twice about hitting a bait of that size. Overcoming the fear of a bait being too big is one key part of becoming successful with swimbaits. So my best advice to anyone wanting to start throwing swimbaits is to start small to gain some confidence but be sure and move up gradually in size as you gain success.  

TackleTour would like to thank Mike Bucca for taking the time to share his rigging and fishing strategies in pursuit of trophy spotted bass. To learn more about Mike or even book a trip with him, please visit his website at www.TritonMike.com.  









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