About five years ago while fishing out of Clewiston, the McMillan clan showed me a new bait called the Skinny Dipper that I have fished with great success in just about every weedy lake in this state.
The McMillans are one of the most successful bass-fishing families to ever came out of the Lake Okeechobee area, and they are men of few words when it comes to their top fishing tactics. I pay close attention to the ways they fish any time I get a chance to go with them.
If you’re planning a bass-fishing trip to Florida, plan on fishing soft-plastic, boot-tailed baits including Reaction Innovation’s Skinny Dipper, D.O.A’s Airhead and Gambler’s Flappin’ Shad. Other effective lures on the market do double duty as a bait that will buzz the top or swim seductively below surface.
First, you need a stout baitcasting rod with a softer tip. I like a 7-foot, 3-inch rod myself. You need a high-speed reel loaded with 30- to 60-pound braided line. Tie direct to a heavy, 5/0 or 6/0 superline hook. You can add a light bullet weight for added casting distance, which is also really helpful when you’re done buzzing the surface and are swimming the bait later in the morning.
The hookset takes some getting used to. Wait until the fish loads up the rod then strike hard. If the fish wakes behind the bait or misses it, just drop and deadstick the lure, nudging it occasionally. Or, keep a spinning rod rigged with a Senko worm to follow up with.
Fish these lures around and through bulrush and spike rush. Buzz them over mats of hydrilla and pepper grass. You won’t believe how hard a largemouth will hit these lures. They’re go-to big-bass baits where it’s thick. You’ll need them on top lakes such Toho near Kissimmee and Istokpoga near Sebring.