By: Shaye Baker
The term suspended bass sends a shiver up the spine of many bass anglers. One of the most intimidating ways to target Micropterus (that’s fancy talk for largies and smallies), fishing for suspended bass often feels like looking for a needle in a haystack…only the haystack is floating up in the air somewhere.
Sure, the invent of LiveScope and other forward facing sonar technologies have drastically reduced the difficulty level of fishing for suspended bass, but most of us don’t need it because we’re fishing for bass from the bank. Besides, there’s an unmatched thrill catching a suspended bass using ‘old school’ techniques.
Reeling Baits for Suspended Bass
A bass’s eyes are on the top of its head. Mind-blowing, right? Probably the most obvious statement of all time, but we often forget this simple fact. This means you stand a better chance catching a suspended bass by catching its eye first.
Reeling baits like little paddle tail swimbaits, glide baits and spybaits thrown slightly above the level of a suspended bass gives you a great chance to get bit. With these baits, you’re looking for a simple, slow, steady retrieve. But if this doesn’t work, it’s time to try something from our next subset of baits.
Jerkbaits and Lipless Crankbaits for Suspended Bass
Lures like jerkbaits and lipless crankbaits have a more erratic action compared to the last category, but the same concept still applies. If the bass are suspended 10 feet below the surface, you want your bait staying in that 8- to 10-foot range.
Whether you’re jerking a jerkbait and then pausing if for a couple seconds or yo-yoing a lipless crankbait, both presentations give bass a little added incentive and time to bite. That erratic action is sometimes what’s needed to trigger a strike. And though these lures work in fairy clear water as well, you’ll find that this category of baits outperforms reeling baits in dirtier water for sure.
Topwater Lures for Suspended Bass
Circling back to the whole a fish’s eyes are on the top of its head epiphany, it makes sense that a topwater lure is a great bait for targeting suspended bass. I’ve called fish up with a topwater before that were suspended several feet below the surface, and I’ve heard stories from anglers fishing super clear lakes that have had fish come up from over 20 feet deep to eat a topwater.
Fishing a topwater lure for suspended fish works really well when there’s either baitfish, cover or both present. For instance, bass suspended over a brush pile are really susceptible to a topwater, as are bass that are following big schools of shad or herring out around humps and points on clear water lakes.
Where to Find Suspended Bass
It’s important to keep in mind that suspended bass almost always relate to some kind of structure. Whether a bass suspends 2 feet over a brush pile in 15 feet of water, or 60 feet deep near a hump that tops out 100 feet below the surface, they are almost always suspending by structure. You’ll even find suspended bass hanging off to the sides of vertical cover like bridge pylons and dock posts.
When you’re bank fishing for bass, look for trees and floating docks where you’re likely to find bass suspending nearby. Most ponds have drainpipes, and you can almost always catch a fish suspending near one of those. The key is to look for cover to throw at—but remember that you don’t have to throw right on top of it or through it.
You can locate and target suspended bass simply by trying different things and then paying close attention to each bite when it comes. If the bites feel like they’re coming 10-feet deep, start counting your bait down to 10-feet each cast before you begin your retrieve. The general rule of thumb is that a lure falls on a slack line at a rate of 1 foot per second, so counting to 10 should get most baits down near 10 feet.
Once you figure out the depth, cycle through the different bait categories. Try topwaters overhead or baits that you can reel at a steady pace. If those don’t work or the water is a little more stained, try the more erratic baits. If you still can’t get a bass to budge, that’s when you may have to really talk it into biting with a suspended bait right in its face. Whatever the case may be, employing these bass fishing tips and tricks will give you a fairly good shot at getting a suspended fish to bite.