Even in the heat of summer, Stacey King uses big plastic worms to catch big bass.
By Brent Frazee
Stacey King looks at the 7-inch plastic worms many fishermen use as mere appetizers.
When he targets big bass in the heat of summer, he often serves them a whole meal – a worm from 12- to 13-inches long.
King, a longtime pro fisherman who has competed on both the BASS and FLW circuits, is known for his ability to get trophy largemouths to bite a magnum plastic worm at a time of the year when bass often are finicky.
“A quality bass wants a quality meal,” said King, 70, who lives in Reeds Spring, Mo. “They aren’t feeding as actively as they do in the spring, but they will still bite.
“They’re not swimming around to eat everything in sight. But they’ll take a big meal, something they can get without expending much energy.”
King has seen that at work many times at Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri, where he guides.
He has caught and released many bass 5 pounds and larger in the dog days of summer when other fishermen are complaining about how poor the fishing is.
His secret got out in the summer of 2011 when he won a Professional Anglers Association tournament on his home lake with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 58.52 pounds. He used a 12-inch Bass Pro Shops Squirmin’ Worm and a 13-inch Go-To straight-tailed worm to catch every one of those bass.
King targeted the gravel flats off long points, not far from deep channel swings. His reasoning? The bass would move out of the deep water to feed on shad on the flats, then drop back to the channel and suspend. Timing was key – finding the few times of the day the big bass would move up to actively feed.
Once he found a spot where the timing was in his favor, it wasn’t a matter of catching a big one here and there. The bass were grouped up.
In the final day of that summer tournament, he caught 23 pounds of bass in 90 minutes on a flat along a bluff point that tapered off into the lake 300 yards.
King looks back on that tournament as perhaps his finest moment with super-sized plastic worms. But that success hardly was unprecedented.
Once the bass move into their post-spawn phase, King will always have a big plastic worm tied on one of his rods. He likes to fish long, tapering points, but he will also fish ledges, dropoffs, timber, and humps.
Many of his bass are caught in 10 to 20 feet of water. He fishes the big plastic worms on 7-foot heavy-action rods, 17-pound test fluorocarbon line, a one-half-ounce weight, and a 5/0 hook.
He Texas rigs the big plastic worms and lets them sink, then he slowly swims them just above the bottom. He finds his most success on the Bass Pro Shops 12-inch Squirmin’ Worm and the 10-inch Zoom Ribbontail worm.
He has caught bass up to 8 pounds and “lots of 4- to 5-pounders” on that method, he said.
The heat of summer that so many bass fishermen dread? No problem, King said.
“The hotter, the better,” he said. “A lot of times, their patterns will get predictable in the middle of summer.”
As for the common belief that only big bass will bite a super-sized plastic worm, King answers, “I’ve caught bass not much longer than the worm itself.”
Lest fishermen have any doubts about a bass’ willingness to hit a plastic worm that is a foot or more long, King relates one last story.
“A friend of mine caught a nice-sized bass on a Whopper Plopper (topwater lure),” King said. “He got it in, and that fish still had a live snake in its mouth. And it wasn’t a real small one.”
(h/t Great American Wildlife)