That bass often thrive in tidal waters is fairly common knowledge; but here’s something to bear in mind: they not only rub shoulders with redfish, flounder and other saltwater species—they often eat some of the same things.
In tidal fisheries from the Potomac River to Florida’s St. Johns River, bass often encounter blue crabs and shrimp — both of which they’ll readily gobble.
In the Homosassa River, when Capt. William Toney casts a DOA shrimp at docks and laydowns, he knows the next rod-bender could just as easily be a redfish, snook, or a bass.
In the St. Johns, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Cliff Prince often finds bass schooling on the fall-run shrimp. To capitalize, he’ll tempt these active fish with a Heddon Spook Jr. Also effective: Popping cork rigs like the DOA Deadly Combo.
In Jacksonville, Florida, Capt. Chris Holleman probes docks, sea walls, bridges and piers within the St. Johns with a live shrimp under a Thill cork rig. He’s generally targeting redfish and snook, but reeling in a plump largemouth is no surprise to him.
FLW Tour pro Mike Surman likes mimicking small blue crabs with a ½- to ¾-ounce jig and a Gambler twin tail grub. He finds that blue or green baits with a little touch of red or orange in the skirts do a fine job of impersonating these pinching machines.
Natural movements, Surman said, close the deal.
“Emulate how a crab moves – sometimes they’re swimming on top; sometimes they’re scurrying on the bottom,” he said. “And remember the stronger the tide, the more aggressive the fish will be. But the slower the tide, the slower you’ll need to work your bait.”