March 24, 2016
If you are an inland bass head and a vacation has you headed to the coast, there is a strong likelihood you currently possess bass lures that will easily catch inshore species such as redfish, spotted seatrout, flounder, snook, stripers or just about anything else that swims in the salty shallows.
You never know when a run of pompano, Spanish mackerel or blues might just start schooling right off the beach in front of you. So if you’re looking to pluck a few lures from your bass box just in case, here is what to take for inshore fishing.
Toss in any 4- to 5-inch noisy topwater walker such as a Zara Spook, Skitterwalk, Sexy Dawg, Sammy or Vixen. As for colors, it really doesn’t matter – chrome, pearl, shad – you name it. Depending on the model, you might need to upgrade the hooks. Toss and work these anywhere you have clear, calm water and if baitfish are present, even better.
Nearly every bass angler owns several bags of Zoom Super Flukes; they are incredibly versatile fish catchers in inshore waters. Any color called pearl, glimmer blue, albino, silver rainbow, smoking shad or anything similar are perfect choices. Weightless or belly-weighted will work for big spotted trout on the flats or skipping mangroves for snook. Go with a jighead (1/2- to 1-ounce) to get deeper for bull reds, flounder and nearshore snapper.
Suspenders have found their way into just about every basser’s tacklebox these days and they are killers in salt. They throw far, are easy to work and have classic flashing-slashing actions that draw in predator fish from a long way. Any of Rapala’s X-Rap or Shadow Rap Series, Lucky Craft Pointers, Strike King or Yo-Zuri jerkbaits are fair game. Just don’t plan on putting these back in your bass box as all kinds of toothy critters in the sea love a jerkbait.
Swimbaits in the salt do not have to be the high-dollar hollow-body type. If you have a couple bags of Strike King’s Swim’n Caffeine Shads or Reaction Innovations Skinny Dippers or Z-Man’s Diezel Minnows, take them with you. Thread them onto a ¼-ounce to ½-ounce jighead or your favorite swimbait head and hold on.
Look in your spinnerbait box and see if you have any ½-ounce Colorado or Indiana bladed baits. Gold blades are better, but silver is not a deal breaker. Skirt colors don’t matter since the best thing to do is strip the skirt off and thread some kind of 4-inch swimbait on it. Any estuary or delta system where fresh and saltwater mix to grow marsh grasses like spartina, cordgrass, bulrush or reeds is good habitat for a spinnerbait.
Wherever a spinnerbait will work, chances are a Chatterbait will work pretty well, too. Again, where freshwater inflows meet saltwater bays are good places to try these vibrating jigs. Black and blue is a good skirt color for brackish water estuaries. Or, rip the skirt off and just put a sapphire blue Zoom Ultravibe craw on it.
Fish Head Spin
Whether you call it an underspin, a Fish Head Spin, a Ditch Blade or a Road Runner, a “horsey head” with a spinner on the chin is a fantastic inshore lure. Flounder particularly have a penchant for underspins. Put a Fluke or swimbait on it, cast it out and slow roll it in tidal ditches and creeks on an outgoing tide and see if something doesn’t nibble on it.
A rather new addition to many bass tackleboxes in recent years has been a Biffle HardHead or swing-head jig. This is essentially an EWG-style hook with a weighted head attached to it. It differs from a standard jighead because the lead head is not fixed or poured onto to the hook; instead it’s loose and swings back and forth. Once you pin a flapping craw such as a Zoom Speed Craw, Rage Craw or Paca Craw to it and slow roll it along the bottom it features an action that looks very “crabby” in the water.
Mann’s Mid 1-Minus
What kind of crankbaits are good in saltwater? Ultra shallow runners like a Mann’s Baby or Mid 1-Minus are great crankbaits for shallow salty water. The waking action of these baits perfectly imitates finger mullet waddling along the surface over.
Personally, I have never used a lipless rattler in saltwater, but I know it works because I have covered redfish tournaments in Texas and Louisiana where teams used them over mud flats and in backwater ponds to catch hefty redfish. The standard Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap, Redeye Shad or Yo-Zuri Rattle-N-Vibe are all good candidates.