© St. Petersburg Times, published November 3, 2001
Live bait is the most effective way to catch a trophy bass when fishing in Florida from November to May. The bait of choice is a wild shiner. My favorite size is 6-9 inches, and to catch a huge bass I will use a 12-inch shiner.
When shiner fishing, leave your light tackle at home. Use a 71/2-foot heavy-action rod with a reel capable of holding at least 15-pound test line. The hook to use will depend on the size of bait and the type of water. Since I fish heavy grass in 3-6 feet of water, I start with a 4/0 weedless hook. It helps you pull the bait through the grass without snagging and the weed guard helps keep the bait on the hook. When using a 9- to 12-inch shiner, go up in size to a 5/0-6/0 hook.
To rig for shiner fishing, slip a float on the line, tie on a hook and peg the float about 3 feet from the hook. To rig bait on the hook, bring the hook through the lower jaw and out the nostril. Use an underhand cast. This will put less stress on the bait. Keep an eye on the float. If there is a bass around, the shiner will react and pull the float around. This is not a bite. When the float disappears, reel your slack and set the hook hard.
- Lenny Crispino guides on Lake Tarpon. Call (727) 938-2379.