My longtime friend Brett Woodward, from Dana Point, who now lives in Laguna Niguel, gave me my first calico bass exposure. Brett is a really good hook and lethal as a team partner. Brett got me hooked on slow rolling spinnerbaits in the kelp for calico bass well over a decade ago now, from his Boston Whaler.
Kelp = Hard Grass
If you’ve never felt or touched Pacific Ocean kelp, you may not know its super hard. Hard grass, like the good kind of hydrilla you look for on Okeechobee or Seminole. Hard grass means your bait doesn’t muck up in it while fishing. Hard grass means really fishable grass. Hard grass means it’s healthy and likely has an entire ecosystem of life living under/within it.
Spinnerbaits are really ‘old school’ in the freshwater bass world, especially over grass. Spinnerbaits are weedless and fish really well in the grass, and do a great job of creating a bait ball/chaser rig. It makes a ton of sense to fish them in the kelp. I am sure lots of guys are throwing swimbaits in the kelp, including myself. I feel like the spinnerbait is a go-to to ‘catch a fish’ and see if any little calico bass are around or sorta see how aggressive the fish are.
I am new to calico bass fishing. I love to throw weedless swimbaits. Believe me. Braided line, Owner screw lock hooks, and weedless paddle/boot tailed swimmers are key part of my progression as a fisherman, swimming bait fisherman. However, the spinnerbait gets down and can be slow rolled. It get’s in the funky zone where you lose visibility, where there are deep shade pockets created by the kelp stringers. Calico bass are aggressive and bold, but they aren’t dumb. They have been picked over pretty good around Dana Point area, but it’s still really fun fishing. You have to work hard for smaller fish I feel like than 10-15 years ago, but then again, what place gets better over time?
Here are some thoughts on spinnerbaits I carry for saltwater bass fishing:
I like all things WarBaits. They have a no-nonsense 1 oz spinnerbait that keeps it simple, keeps it heavy duty, and has one heck of an Owner Hook that dwarfs most spinnerbait hooks. The colors and durability are awesome and the baits will catch ‘many’ fishes before the wire and bait become useless. Highly recommend them. Here is a link to an Instagram video I made fishing the Warbaits HD 1 oz Spinnerbait somewhere near Trestles: https://instagram.com/p/BRlhPf4B91e/
Nichols is a favorite of mine. I’ve caught many spinnerbaits fish on Nichols bass. I love their colors, painted blades and fishability of the double willow spinnerbaits they make. I realized they make a 1 oz version, made with heavy wire, dubbed the Nichols Pulsator Depth Finder. Nice and compact, nice hook, but nowhere near the Owner hook on the Warbaits HD Spinnerbait. Really cool color combinations and a good choice of 1 oz weights.
I have fished the Blade Runner 1.5 and it definitely is heavy duty and the flat sided nature of the bait make it keel very well. Keels tend to work well or work against you. I find this 1.5 oz bait is really easy to throw and I liked having the turtle shell/willow combination. Heavy duty Wire too.
Maybe the guys wanted to build a better mouse-trap? I just noticed Blade Runner makes a 2.5 oz spinnerbait now? Check out the Guppy. It says flat bottom, so maybe this bait has less keel and is even more a deep creeping thumper. Will get some and advise.
Revenge makes really good baits in general. They have all kinds of spinnerbaits. They make a heavy duty and a deep runner that are saltwater worthy. I find the Heavy Duty have heavier wire and are more geared to salt than the deep runners. I have always liked the way Revenge distributes the weight of the spinnerbait into the body shape of spinnerbait. Most spinnerbaits are all head. Revenge has a good sized body and is a compact bait. I like gold shiner color!