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A Day On the Lake Emily Shaffer:
 Postspawn

Updated: May 1, 2008, 7:37 PM ET
By Don Wirth | BASSMASTER Magazine, May 2008
Ever wonder how a top BASS pro would fare on your home lake? That's the premise behind Bassmaster's reality series, "A Day on the Lake." Here we put the superstars of competitive bass fishing on small "mystery" lakes they've never seen before, then give them seven hours to put together a successful pattern while we log everything they do to find and catch bass.

This month Emily Shaffer takes the Bassmaster challenge. The Mt. Juliet, Tenn., Women's Bassmaster Tour (WBT) pro (www.ladybasspro.com) has fished competitively for 16 years and placed sixth in the 2006 WBT standings. Here's how Shaffer fared May 23, 2007, on Lake Y, a 700-acre reservoir.

> 6:39 a.m. We arrive at Lake Y's remote launch ramp. It's 62 degrees, sunny and calm with a high near 90 forecast for later in the day. Shaffer is towing a Stratos bass boat equipped with a 225-hp Evinrude E-Tec H.O. outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor and Lowrance electronics.

> 6:45 a.m. She launches the Stratos. What's her game plan on a lake she's never seen before? "I expect to find bass in a postspawn mode on deep points and sharp dropoffs," she says. "By now they've done their thing and should be moving out to their summer haunts. Deep crankbaits and Carolina rigs should catch 'em."

> 6:55 a.m. Shaffer runs to the lower end of the lake, cuts her engine and pulls several All Star rods rigged with Pflueger reels from storage.

> 6:57 a.m. The pro elects to make her first casts to dam riprap with a 1/4-ounce chartreuse-and-white Strike King buzzbait equipped with a trailer hook. She checks the water temperature: 75.4 degrees.

> 7:04 a.m. Shaffer has fished the buzzer halfway down the length of the dam without a strike. She switches to a parrot (chartreuse/blue/orange) Strike King Series 3, a small crankbait that she'll fish on a spinning outfit spooled with 10-pound fluorocarbon.

> 7:13 a.m. She hangs the crankbait in a rock and shakes it free.

> 7:15 a.m. Shaffer bags her first bass of the day, a 1-pound, 5-ounce largemouth, on the Series 3 crankbait. "I threw right back to where I got hung up and the fish jumped all over it!"

> 7:20 a.m. Having fished the entire length of the dam, Shaffer cranks a nearby point: "That one Bubba bass isn't reason enough to fish all the way back down that dam!"

> 7:22 a.m. She breaks several more rods out of storage: "Gotta be prepared!" Her rod handles are wrapped with colorful Rod Wrap tape: "This is similar to the wrap used on golf clubs. It gives you a much better grip and makes for more comfortable all-day casting. I color-key the wrap to the lures I have tied on; this lets me instantly locate the exact rod I want when I have a bunch of rods in the storage box or spread out on the front deck."

> 7:25 a.m. Shaffer casts a Strike King Series 5 crankbait, shad pattern with red hooks, to the point: "The water's pretty clear in this area and I wanted to try something a little more realistic than that bright parrot color." The boat's sitting in 10 feet of water; she's casting into 3.

> 7:30 a.m. Shaffer has rounded the point and is proceeding uplake along the eastern shore at a fast clip, cranking as she goes.

> 7:34 a.m. She spots a huge submerged stump at the end of a point and pitches a green pumpkin Strike King Flippin' Tube at the cover. It's Texas rigged with a 3/0 EWG Gamakatsu hook and 1/4-ounce sinker. No takers.

> 7:36 a.m. Shaffer slow rolls a white 3/4-ounce Strike King double willow spinnerbait with a trailer hook around the stump. Why such a heavy spinnerbait? "It's what I had tied on."

> 7:41 a.m. She switches to a parrot Strike King Series 6 crankbait on the point: "This is a big, deep running plug that I've caught a lot of hawg bass on."

> 7:43 a.m. Her reel backlashes and she patiently picks out the knots: "Just measuring my line!"

> 7:45 a.m. Shaffer's first hour on Lake Y is up. "I'm gonna run to the other side of the lake; it looks like the channel cuts in close to shore over there."

> 7:47 a.m. She pulls up on a long, slow-tapering point and cranks the structure with the Series 6.

> 7:50 a.m. Shaffer switches to a Carolina rigged watermelon/chartreuse Strike King 3X lizard rigged on a 3/0 round bend Gamakatsu hook. She's using a 1-ounce sinker and a 3-foot leader.

> 8:00 a.m. Shaffer has probed the point out into the 16-foot zone with the Carolina rig: "Come on, fish!"

> 8:03 a.m. Detecting a bite, Shaffer goes on point, then sweeps back her rod, sticking the fish. She swings her second keeper, 2 pounds, 3 ounces, into the boat: "I barely felt that bite! I'd just noticed that the point made a sharp bend to the right, and that's where the bass was sitting. We were sitting in 21 feet of water and the fish hit in 14."

> 8:06 a.m. A light breeze is blowing out of the east. Shaffer swings at a bass, but misses it: "Man, they're hitting light!"

> 8:20 a.m. Shaffer has dragged the lizard all the way out to the end of the point with no more takers. She switches to a 3/4-ounce Strike King Denny Brauer Pro-Model jig, brown and purple, with a watermelon chunk trailer: "I like a heavy jig on deep structure, especially now that the wind's getting up." She's fishing it superslow with a dragging retrieve.

> 8:26 a.m. Shaffer cranks the Evinrude and makes a short run to a nearby tributary arm. She fishes the point at the mouth of the creek with the Carolina rigged lizard.

> 8:29 a.m. She hangs the lizard in a deep stump, shakes it free and switches to the Series 6.

> 8:32 a.m. Shaffer presses deeper into the tributary arm and cranks the Series 6 along a deep channel bank studded with laydown trees: "They oughta be suspending out at the ends of these branches."

> 8:41 a.m. The pro has cranked the entire length of the channel bank without once touching her trolling motor, letting the wind propel her boat instead: "Remote lakes like this usually get so little fishing pressure, you can really spook 'em with your trolling motor if you aren't careful."

> 8:42 a.m. She slings the Carolina rig toward a submerged stump on a nearby point: "There oughta be one there; it drops off quickly into 25 feet of water!" But apparently nobody's home.

> 8:45 a.m. She does a 180 and works slowly back down the channel bank with the jig.

> 9:00 a.m. Nearing the point at the mouth of the tributary, Shaffer moves out 20 feet farther from the bank and pitches the jig into the branches of a deep submerged tree she'd spotted earlier. The sky has become hazy and it's warming up rapidly.

> 9:04 a.m. Shaffer runs straight across to the opposite bank of the tributary, where she cranks the Series 6 on a flat point as she drifts with the wind. Why a big crankbait in postspawn? "They're big fish baits, and they're capable of getting down into the deeper zone where bass often bunch up after spawning."

> 9:13 a.m. She moves a bit shallower on the point and tries the Series 5. Nothing here: "I still think they've moved out onto the main lake."

> 9:25 a.m. A bass pecks the jig; Shaffer swings, but hauls water.

> 9:27 a.m. She hangs the jig in a deep brushpile, then retrieves it using a homemade plug knocker consisting of a heavy catfish sinker with a big snap attached: "Just snap it to your line, let it slide down to your lure and it'll knock it free. Simple, but it works."

> 9:30 a.m. Still dragging the jig on the point: "There's some good-feeling stuff down there, and a big wad of baitfish about 16 feet deep."

> 9:33 a.m. Shaffer tries the Series 6 on the end of the point without success.

> 9:45 a.m. After unsuccessfully fishing the point with the crankbait and jig, Shaffer runs across the lake to try a main lake point with the lizard.

> 10:10 a.m. Shaffer has painstakingly dredged the point with the Carolina rig to no avail.

> 10:12 a.m. She tries the Series 6 on the point. Nothing.

> 10:16 a.m. Shaffer runs uplake a quarter mile to a deep main lake point, which she cranks with a Tennessee Shad color Series 6: "I'm graphing baitfish only on the ends of the points, and they're no shallower than 10 feet.

But the bass sure aren't stacked up on 'em like they're supposed to be."

> 10:22 a.m. Shaffer has spotted a clay point directly across from the one she'd been fishing; she idles over to it and fancasts the Series 6, but can't connect with a bass.

> 10:35 a.m. The pro is considering her next move: "I might try a couple more of these uplake points, but pretty soon I want to go back to the lower end where I caught my two bass earlier." She rejects her Plan A and opts to run back downlake.

> 10:40 a.m. We're back on the channel bank with the laydown trees. Shaffer rigs a blue glimmer/pearl belly Strike King ZToo soft jerkbait on a red 4/0 Gamakatsu EWG hook with a small weight attached and casts it into a submerged tree.

> 10:44 a.m. A nonkeeper grabs the jerkbait, then shakes free: "All right! I'm onto something now!"

> 10:59 a.m. A fish pecks the jerkbait, but drops it: "Bluegill bite."

> 11:15 a.m. After working down the sloping bank with the jerkbait, she reverses direction and refishes it with the tube.

> 11:21 a.m. Shaffer runs back to the shallow point where she caught her second keeper and drags the Carolina rigged lizard.

> 11:27 a.m. She tries the Series 5 crankbait on the point: "This point's so big, it ought to hold more than one fish!"

> 11:34 a.m. Shaffer breaks off the lizard and leader in a stump and reties: "I'll have this rig ready to go in an hour!"

> 11:41 a.m. She's rotating between the lizard and the Series 5 and 6 crankbaits on the point.

> 11:45 a.m. Shaffer has two hours remaining. She breaks out a couple of more rods and adds them to the arsenal of sticks already crowding her boat's deck.

> 11:48 a.m. She moves to the tributary arm closest to the dam and casts the Series 3 crankbait around shoreline wood cover while moving along rapidly with the trolling motor.

> 11:57 a.m. It's getting hot as Shaffer continues cranking the shoreline.

> Noon. She cuts straight across the mouth of a cove to a big brushpile, where she tries the jerkbait: "I can't believe there's not even a small bass in that stuff!"

> 12:10 p.m. She runs to the next tributary arm uplake and immediately catches a short bass on the Series 3:

"That fish was way off the bank — it hit when I was picking the lure up to make another cast. These fish may be out here just roaming around and not relating to anything."

> 12:16 p.m. Shaffer ties on a Strike King Series 1 square-billed crankbait, brown and chartreuse with red hooks. She casts it to a laydown log and dredges up a wad of snot grass.

> 12:19 p.m. "This is a beautiful lake; it'd be nice if it had some bass in it!" Shaffer grumbles as she cranks the square bill around shallow wood cover.

> 12:26 p.m. She makes a short run to the mouth of a cove and cranks the square bill around a laydown tree.

> 12:29 p.m. "I haven't got enough arms to cast every lure I want into this tree!" Shaffer laughs. She's tried the square bill, jerkbait and jig in the cover with no takers.

> 12:30 p.m. Shaffer presses deeper into the cove and works the square bill around some stumps: "They aren't shallow and they aren't deep, so where are they?"

> 12:37 p.m. She tries the Series 3 on a shallow point to no avail.

> 12:45 p.m. With one hour remaining, Shaffer says, "On a day like today, all you can do is keep searching. I'm gonna spend the rest of my time on the main lake." She runs to the long point where she caught keeper No. 2 and drags the Carolina rig.

> 1:00 p.m. She crawls the jig over the point. The wind is now blowing out of the southeast.

> 1:08 p.m. Shaffer cranks her engine and roars to the dam, where she cranks the Series 5 around the riprap.

> 1:14 p.m. The crankbait dredges up a tangle of fishing line.

> 1:30 p.m. Shaffer has cranked the entire length of the dam. With 15 minutes remaining, she wedges the lure between two deep rocks and retrieves it.

> 1:35 p.m. She zips back to the deep channel bank with laydown trees and works the Series 5 and ZToo around the limbs: "C'mon, 8-pounder, bite!"

> 1:45 p.m. Back to the ramp. Shaffer has had a tough day on Lake Y, boating two keeper bass with a total weight of 3 pounds, 8 ounces.

THE DAY IN PERSPECTIVE

"I wish I could have figured out where the bass were today and what they wanted, but the bite was so slow, it was impossible to get enough feedback to form a pattern," Shaffer told Bassmaster. "There were some baitfish on the deep points, but no bass around them. I tried shallow wood cover on flat banks and deeper sloping banks with wood, but couldn't get on anything there either. Postspawn can be feast or famine — the bass are in a transitional mode from shallow spawning areas to the main lake, and evidently they haven't set up on their summer places yet and don't appear to be relating to cover, structure or baitfish, either. That makes it tough! If I were to fish here tomorrow, I'd start in the back of a spawning cove and work my way out with a variety of lures, trying to get a handle on where the bass are."

Where and When Emily Shaffer Caught Her Keeper Bass

1. 1 pound, 5 ounces; riprap on a dam; parrot Strike King Series 3 crankbaits; 7:15 a.m.

2. 2 pound, 3 ounces; long point; watermelon/chartreuse Strike King 3X lizard with 3/0 Gamakatsu hook (on Carolina rig); 8:03 a.m.

TOTAL: 3 POUNDS, 8 OUNCES

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A Day On the Lake Emily Shaffer:
Postspawn