Junk fishing has nothing to do with the type of fish being targeted; rather, it is the absence of a pattern while targeting a specific species. In fact, some days it can produce a mega bag of bass.
Junk Fishing 101
Junk fishing can occur any time of year but is most prone during late summer and early fall. I believe this is because the abundance of food available has fish spread out. They find food up shallow, deep, and in between. Fish are capitalizing on all forage.
Junk Fishing with Topwater Baits
For me, a typical day of junk fishing begins with topwater baits on a flat or breakline. My goal is to catch fish that are cruising around looking for an easy meal. I believe many of the best fish in a lake become nocturnal late in the summer, and this is the best time to catch them before going dormant for the day. Any topwater bait can work – poppers, buzzbaits, spooks – but I’ve grown attached to the Whopper Plopper. This bait is like a spook and buzzbait hybrid. It has an easy retrieve. Cast as far as possible, then slow and steady back to the boat. It can be worked around structure, weeds, or anywhere in the open. The water color dictates my color selection. Dark water equals black, and clear water equals white.
I always have a follow up bait ready when working topwater. When a fish explodes on my bait but misses, I immediately sling a wacky rigged stickworm. If the primary forage is bluegill, my go-to color is watermelon candy. But if shad is the primary forage, then green pumpkin gets the nod.
Junk Fishing with Lipless Crankbait
If I get some action on topwater in an area, I will toss a lipless crankbait before moving. Sometimes fish are unwilling to explode on the surface but will chase a bait 2 feet under the surface.
As the day progresses, fish will be settling into their preferred places, and I remember their biology: these creatures lack eyelids. Late in the season has got to be hard on their eyes. Bass are a bit like grizzly bears too in that the big ones get the best places, which is usually the best shaded, ambush spots. These are either deep weeds, or shallow cover. In typical junk fishing style, I cover both.
Junk Fishing at the Breaklines
The deep fish seem to set up first, so after exploiting the topwater and lipless crankbait, I back out to the breaklines with the best-looking weeds. Good looking weeds are lush green, and a mix of species intertwined. Working a crankbait parallel to these weeds can be deadly effective. Bass are ambush predators and will be tucked into the weeds waiting for an easy meal to come by. This is why retrieving it parallel is important – it keeps the bait in the strike zone.
If the crankbait fails to produce, or the bite fizzles, I pick up a jig before leaving. I am not making a parallel presentation but will flip the jig into the weeds hoping to drop it right in front of their face and get a reaction bite. Try to match the jig up to the forage, but if you are not sure, a black and blue combination works everywhere in America.
Junk Fishing with Frogs
Once I’ve exhausted the breakline, I move ultra-shallow. If the lake has emergent weeds, I will work a frog among it. Another tip for frog fishing is to use your ears. If you can hear the bullfrogs, bass are lurking close by. If not, don’t waste your time.
Junk Fishing in the Docks
Docks along the shore provide excellent cover for bass. Sometimes the docks in shallow water are best, sometimes the deeper docks produce better. Two baits seem to outproduce others – jigs and soft stickbaits. The jig is heavy and bulky, which prompts a reaction bite. A stickbait sinks slowly and allows a fish to examine it before committing. Both are excellent options.
A typical junk fishing day can see bass caught on topwater, lipless crankbaits, lipped crankbaits, jigs, soft stickbaits, and frogs. The complete opposite of a pattern, but effective and fun. And remember when it comes to junk fishing, you shouldn’t have junk products on your boat. That’s why I only trust the line of Megaware products that you can shop online.