By Jeff Samsel

“Some days, a Spook is all I throw,” Patrick Bone said as he fired a Super Spook Jr. toward what looked like nothing water.

But he was actually over a Lake Lanier hump. The boat sat over the slope in about 50 feet of water. The top of the hump, less than a cast’s distance away, was in 35 feet. The depth behind the boat approached 100 feet.

A tournament pro from Cleveland, Georgia, and past Bassmaster Classic qualifier, Bone was after Lanier’s famously fat spotted bass. Through much of the year, a large portion of Lanier’s spotted bass population stays in or near deep water, feeding primarily on plentiful blueback herring. Through summer and fall, those bass use brush on main-lake humps and points that are near the deep water as ambush points for feasting on the herring when the schools swim over the structure.

Bone, who considers Lanier as his home water, knows dozens of structure spots and generally will fish them in run-and-gun fashion. If the spots are home and willing to feed, they normally let him know pretty quickly by crashing to the surface.

“It’s a definite timing thing,” he said. “If they don’t hit right away, it’s usually best to keep moving and return to that spot later.”

Spook No. 1

Bone has found nothing more consistent or more fun than the topwater approach, and his topwater lure of choice is a Heddon Spook. The specific Spook he chooses varies by situation and the mood of the fish, but it’s always a Spook of some kind. He’s tried plenty of other lures, but when spotted bass are feeding on herring, he’s found nothing that does a better job of drawing strikes than a Spook.

The Spooks Bone uses the most for offshore fishing are the Super Spook, Super Spook Jr. and Chug’n Spook. To a degree, he chooses “Super Spook vs. Super Spook Jr.” based on the size of herring he sees. Mostly it’s a matter of experimentation. Some days they want the big one. Some days they want the little one. Simple as that.

The Chug’n Spook comes into play when wind or boat traffic creates significant chop on the surface and Bone wants his lure to make more commotion.

“When Heddon added the Chug’n Spook, that really completed the line,” he said.

Bone has a box filled with Spooks of many different colors, but he mostly uses three in the open water, and in truth many of his Spook colors are variations of the same three. He likes Nickel for most sunny days, Bone for most cloudy days, and Clear for those times when the fish are extra cautious, like when fishing pressure is extra high or when the lake is glass calm and the sky is blue from horizon to horizon.

Alternative Approaches

On those days when the bass won’t come up, Bone will go down after them, using a few different approaches. He also might turn to a subsurface lure after the fish quit hitting a Spook over any given structure, and sometimes he can pick up another fish or two before moving to the next spot.

Two of his most productive subsurface offerings include a ½-ounce Booyah Hard Knocker in Flashy Mama and an Ox Blood/Red Flake YUM Sharp Shooter fished on a dropshot rig. Other good bets include a deep-diving crankbait like a Bomber Fat Free Shad and a jigging spoon.

“The Hard Knocker gets especially good in the fall” Bone said. “I like it because it’s really versatile. I can swim it just beneath the surface, work it along the bottom with lifts and drops and even vertical jig it like a spoon.”

Bone admitted that drop-shotting is sort of a last resort for him. It’s hugely effective with the Sharp Shooter, and he’ll pick it up when the bass just won’t cooperate or when he hopes to pull a couple more fish off a particular spot. It just isn’t the way he likes to fish, and he’ll more often opt to move to another structure and keep throwing his Spook!