Don’t Fear Change – The Tip of the Week Presented by Jackson Kayak

The Tip of the Week Presented by Jackson Kayak

Don't fear changing your bait as your fish your way through a day. Following the hints the fish give will improve your luck.
Don’t fear changing your bait as your fish your way through a day. Following the hints the fish give will improve your luck.

The Tip of the Week Presented by Jackson Kayak

Don’t Fear Change
The Tip of the Week Presented by Jackson Kayak
Words and photos by Chris Funk

Most of us have confidence baits for certain situations or water conditions. One of the worst mistakes we can make on the water is getting so keyed in to those baits that we fail to change when we need to. I start out covering the water column looking for active fish and start fine-tuning rather quickly. I will change baits out or swap a color in a New York minute if I think it will help me get bit. My kayak will look like a grenade went off in a tackle store by the end of my trip.

One key indicator that will make me change is seeing a fish follow but refuse to eat my bait. This indicates that it is close to what they want but not exactly. Sometimes it is no more than a simple color change to trigger the strike. Followers on a spinnerbait might mean it is time to change to a less flashy offering that runs in the same water column. Short striking on a topwater bait can indicate it is time to downsize or change to a subsurface lure. Sometimes a small change in what you are offering will make a huge difference in your catch.

Paying attention to conditions and critters will help to dial in on what the fish want. Watch closely when you are reeling in a fish, sometimes bass will spit up what they have been preying on during the fight. If they are feeding on shad see what size they are; tuning the size of the lure to the size of the bait can change your day for sure. If the bass are keyed in on shad that are 3 inches long and you are throwing a 4-inch bait only a small percentage of the fish will eat.

Swapping baits out in a New York minute to get bit leads to a scene like this one. Save the housekeeping for later.
Swapping baits out in a New York minute to get bit leads to a scene like this one. Save the housekeeping for later.

If the bass are targeting sunfish, try to figure out which species is most prevalent in the area. Where I fish the most common sunfish is the redbreast. It has a brilliant blue stripe on its gill plate and bright orange on its belly. Adding blue flash to a swim jig or a patch of orange to a spinnerbait skirt can really help turn the fish on when they are chasing redbreast. If they are after bluegills, a small patch of chartreuse on the tail can help trigger the strike.

If they are spitting up crawfish, what color are they? Crawfish change colors to fit the environment and their surroundings. Do they have orange tips on their claws? What size are they? This will help to match the hatch and allow you to fine tune your jig or soft plastic to the exact color and size the fish are keyed in on. Just take a look at all the different colors in the soft crawfish imitations. I don't carry all the colors but I do carry multiple colors that represent the species in my area as well as several sizes.

If you are willing to modify your tactics to match the indicators, you can change the outcome of your day. I am not saying that there will never again be a day without a skunk in the boat. I am saying that you should never hit the shore wondering what you should have tried next. By the time my yak is back to the truck I want to clearly see that I did everything within my power to catch the most critters possible. I can promise you that there is something they will eat. We just have to figure it out.

Jackson Kayak pro staffer Chris Funk is a proud self-proclaimed redneck outdoorsman. He swings a mean camera, particularly when any of his beloved critters are around. Funk is a Kayak Fish Magazine contributing editor.