In several years of competing on the Bassmaster Elite Series tour, Alabama’s Derek Remitz quickly figured out a key component to successful bass fishing at the sport's highest level.
And that is the necessity of bass fishing out there, offshore, especially in the summertime.
Now a full-time guide on Alabama’s renowned offshore fishing gem of Lake Guntersville, Remitz has converted lock, stock and barrel to offshore fishing tactics in recent years.
“I’m still learning how to do it but it has taken me (a few) years to get to where I’m at now,” said Remitz, the 2007 BASS Rookie of the Year. “Now, I’m constantly fishing off-shore.”
Why is that?
Remitz, who has three appearances in the Bassmaster Classic and one BASS win on his angling resume, has an easy answer for why he points his boat away from the bank these days as the heat of summer develops.
“You always have to keep it in the back of your mind that if you’re fishing out there, you’re going to be fishing for a hundred fish rather than fishing on the bank for one fish,” he laughed. “That’s my philosophy on that.”
How does he do it?
Summertime bass fishing is often at its best when the heat is on and the bass are deep on underwater structure. When targeting bass offshore, deep diving crankbaits like a Strike King 6XD or an 8XD are going to be consistent fish producers. (Lynn Burkhead photo)
To start figuring out the offshore bite on a body of water, Remitz will go old school and grab a paper lake map.
“When I started fishing, I never had a GPS, so I was always lining stuff up with a map,” said the Grant, Ala., resident. “That’s the main thing, a lot of map study.”
What is Remitz looking for?
First, he is looking for breaklines, or the perceptible changes in the depth contour lines that occur along a lake bottom as shallow water falls away into deeper water.
Depending on the water body being fished, sometimes these breaklines are sharp and pronounced and at other times they are a bit more subtle.
But they are almost always important.
Going offshore for bass during the summer months requires some knowledge of how to read a boat's electronics and an understanding of how to use those electronics to locate structural features in deeper water. (Lynn Burkhead photo)
Once he locates some key breaklines in areas of a lake that might hold fish based on seasonal patterns, Remitz is then on the look-out for some sort of an irregular feature along that breakline.
Such irregularities vary and include things like a stump, a tree, a high spot, a point, a boulder, a gravel pile, a brush pile, a shell bed, a channel bend, an intersecting ditch or even a change in bottom composition (i.e. the change from sand to gravel).
The more isolated an irregularity is on a breakline, the better it often tends to fish.
“Fish use break lines like highways,” said Remitz. “They find those little hard spots or stumps or brush piles and that’s just where they live in the summertime.”
While such isolated features can sometimes be easier to locate on typical ledge-fishing reservoirs like Kentucky Lake, they can be a bit more difficult to find on shallower reservoirs.
That includes Toledo Bend Reservoir, the East Texas bucketmouth factory where legendary BASS pro and two-time Major League Fishing champion Kevin VanDam went offshore, winning his 21st BASS derby by fishing deep-water humps with Strike King 6, 8 and 10 XD series deep-diving crankbaits.
On many lakes, bait selection is relatively easy for offshore bass; anything that resembles a threadfin shad and gets deep. (Lynn Burkhead photo)
“Lakes in eastern Texas have long tapering points and then they roll off,” said Remitz, who has a good amount of experience on a number of offshore lakes like Guntersville, Kentucky Lake and T-Bend.
"They might have a creek channel that bumps the point (or something like that)," he said. "On these kinds of lakes, I’d look for a main-lake point or a secondary point that runs out a ways and the chances are that it’s going to have a stump or two on it, or maybe some gravel, or maybe a hard spot on it.
“If it’s got a creek channel that runs by it, a ditch that runs by it, or maybe a drain that runs into it, that deep water to shallow water transition is important (to find).”
Once his map study is complete, Remitz says it is then time to get in the boat and go out and actually fish these bass-congregating features.
“My favorite way to catch them is throwing a big plug,” said Remitz. “Any deep-diving crankbait will work. Covering the water with it is the main thing, that’s how you find a school.”
When you locate a school of active fish, toss out a marker buoy or two, triangulate with shoreline features and/or mark the spot with your GPS.
Then proceed to milk the school of bass with a variety of deep-water baits.
While jigs and soft plastics can come into play, for the most part, bait boxes prepared for offshore fishing should be filled with shad colored deep diving crankbaits. (Lynn Burkhead photo)
"I’ll have a rattling deep-diving crankbait (tied on); a silent deep diving crankbait; some kind of swimbait like a hollow body on a jig-head like the Storm WildEye; those big spoons; a football jig; or a big worm,” said Remitz.
Once you find a school of bass ganged up on offshore structure in the summertime months, the battle is usually half over.
“It’s just a matter of locating schools,” said Remitz. “That’s what is so fun about it. Once you find a school, you can catch 100 bass out of it in a couple of hours.”