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3. Scott Suggs carried a few weapons to target both the shad spawn and deeper fish. He rigged a swing-head jig (7/16, 5/8 or 3/4 ounce, depending on depth) with a Zoom Z Craw, Zoom Magnum Trick Worm or Gene Larew Biffle Bug. A Berkley Digger crankbait also produced, as did a War Eagle spinnerbait. A 7-foot, 6-inch, heavy Abu Garcia Veracity rod with an Abu Garcia Revo Premier spooled with 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon was his go-to setup.

Shad spawn delivers for Suggs - Scott Suggs of Alexander, Ark., spent the week bouncing back and forth between a shad spawn in grass and shell bars out on the river channel to amass a total of 65 pounds, 1-ounce.  

Like others mentioned, Suggs says the offshore bites were very sporadic and unpredictable. Given that, he spent his mornings fishing a shad spawn in grass along a river bar in 6 to 8 feet of water. On the first day he scored big on the shad spawn, boating 21 pounds, 5 ounces. But as the tournament wore on, his shad spawn area just kicked out keepers and he had to drag along shell bars for upgrades.

When targeting the shad spawn Suggs used a ¾-ounce War Eagle Spinnerbait, a Zoom Swimmer swimbait threaded on a ½-ounce War Eagle swimbait head and a Keitech 4.8 Swing Impact FAT also on a ½-ounce swimbait head.

To drag along the shell bars, Suggs used either a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm or a Zoom Z-Craw threaded on a ¾-ounce Gene Larew Biffle HardHead.

“I used the fixed Hard Head, not the hinged one because I wanted the bait to kick up when it hit the shells,” Suggs says. “I also caught some on a new Berkley Dredger deep-diving crankbait on the shell bars, too.”

A lot of the guys in the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray caught fish by skipping buzzbaits under docks. A buzzbait i sn’t a lure that you would normally associate with skipping docks, but you can’t argue with success. The only rule is that the flatter the bait, the better you can skip it – like a flat rock skips better than a round one.

Most of the guys skipping buzzbaits at Murray were removing the skirts and adding a toad or swimbait for action. I’ve had good success just skipping a toad or frog under docks. Because they’re flat and light, you can really get them back in the dark places that others might miss.

My two favorites are a SPRO frog or a Zoom Horny Toad rigged on a weedless hook. I fish them on braided line with a rod in the 7-foot range and an Abu Garcia Revo Premier. I like that reel because it has a magnetic brake and a centrifugal brake and I can really get the spool speed adjusted right. Even if there is a line overrun once in a while, which is going to happen if you’re skipping, it’s easy to pick out.

If a fish blows up on a frog, but doesn’t take it, I’ll skip a shakyhead with a 5-inch finesse worm back there. Here again, you want to use the lightest weight possible – say, an 1/8-ounce head – because the heavier the bait, the more it will dig in to the water as soon as it hits. You want it to hit and keep going.

I fish a lot of boat docks in August through the end of September and skipping a bait under them is the best way to reach the bass that are hard to get to. You can fish a row of docks fairly fast, but slow down if you get to one that has a channel swing close by, or a lot of bait coming and going, or anything else that gives you confidence a good fish is under there. Fish it from every angle, shallow to deep and deep to shallow. Take your time and really cover it before moving on. The best fish are usually the hardest to reach.

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One thing I definitely believe is that a lot of out-of-production lures will catch fish just as well as they ever did. Nowadays too many fishermen are caught up with what’s new rather than what works – and a lot of those old baits still work. When you stop and think about it, old lures that have been out of production might as well be new; most bass haven’t seen anything like them in their lifetimes. Besides, take away the fancy paint jobs on the newer lures, and they’re pretty much the same as the old standards. For instance, I’ve won a couple of local tournaments on Lake Hamilton this spring fishing an old Rebel Wee R made years ago. The original Storm Wiggle Wart, Bayou Boogie, original Cordell Big O and Hot Spot, Hellcat – there are a lot of great lures that you can still find on eBay or in granddad’s old tackle box. The best thing is that when you go fishing down a bank, you don’t have to worry about the guys ahead of you fishing the same baits.