A graduate of Clemson University with a degree in engineering, Andy Montgomery is one of the most proficient anglers in Major League Fishing history in the “every scorable bass counts” format. He has two tour-level wins and 35 top 10s in his professional career. We caught up with him recently to get his take on how to catch great bass in tough conditions.
1. Outdoor Life: What are your best tips for fishing small ponds?
Andy Montgomery: I grew up fishing small ponds; it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had fishing. It’s best to head out at daybreak or an hour before dark with a buzzbait and only one rod. (Using just one rod forces you to throw it and keep throwing.) If you do that at daybreak or an hour before sunset for a solid hour, you have a high, high percentage that you’re going to catch some fish…some good fish.
2. OL: What would you put in a beginner’s tackle box?
AM: The number one thing for a beginner’s tackle box is a spinnerbait. They can throw and wind and they don’t have to set the hook real hard to catch a fish. That makes the fishing more fun for beginners and helps them naturally learn how to set the hook. Then I would add a small squarebill crankbait. The third thing would be a buzzbait. Again all things that are simple “chuck and wind” type lures.
3. OL: What’s your favorite bed fishing technique?
AM: Patience. Regardless of the lure, I have found that the longer you can leave it in the bed without moving it and have the patience to just leave it there, you will have a lot better luck. If you keep bringing the lure out of the bed, you will let the fish know that is what you eventually will do. But if you can just leave it in the bed, even to the point where you think it’s too long, you will get some bites.
4. OL: What kind of trailer do you use on your chatterbaits? What color?
AM: I use two. About 90 percent of the time, I use a Strike King Blade Minnow in either green pumpkin or a white. The other 10 percent of the time I will use a Strike King Rage Bug. If I’m fishing hard cover, then I will use the Rage Bug but if I’m in open water or grass, I depend on the Blade Minnow.
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5. OL: What’s your go-to jig fishing tactic?
AM: My go-to would be swimming a jig. When you’re fishing cover—docks, floats, or logs—fish will have a tendency to suspend right under the cover; this keeps the jig in the strike zone longer.
And it’s not about speed. Speed depends on how fast you have to move your bait to keep it right under the cover. Control your speed to keep the jig in the strike zone as long as possible.
6. OL: How do you turn on a bite following a cold front?
AM: I mean, just wait until later in the day when it’s warmer (just kidding.)
Typically, the later in the day is better. I don’t know one technique that is better than any other after a cold front. The bass angler handbook says to “slow down, work your bait.” But I do the opposite: speed up to catch him out of a reaction bite. My goal is to catch them out of instinct and reaction vs hunger.
7. OL: How about on especially windy days?
AM: This is a two-prong approach: in the spring, I do not like fishing in the wind. So, I go find a spot that’s out of the wind. There will always be a bank that’s out of the wind. The rest of the year you want to fish in the wind but not so much wind that it hinders your ability to fish efficiently. You can always find different banks, so winds do not hinder your fishing experience no matter what time of year.
8. OL: What’s your favorite topwater bait to fish?
AM: A buzzbait, because I can cover so much water. I even have a buzzbait that I can skip! I can put that buzzbait anywhere and they will bite it.
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9. OL: What’s your approach to fishing muddy water?
AM: My number one thing is fishing really tight to cover. Fish will bite anything, and it doesn’t need to be real bright; just fish as close as you can into or under cover in muddy water.
10. OL: How do I find and catch bigger bass?
AM: For me, the best way to catch a big fish is the law of averages. Do whatever you can do to catch a lot of fish. I’ve caught some really big bass on a 4-inch worm, and I’ve caught them on giant walking topwaters. Whatever is the best to get a lot of bites in that situation and then play the numbers game. Eventually you will catch a big one.