Sometimes matching the hatch isn’t always the most effective choice. Often, offering a different presentation near a pod of baitfish will more quickly catch a predator’s attention.

Case in point, during the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, Nick LaDart and Brian Eaton of the University of Louisiana-Monroe found Chatuge Reservoir’s abundance of blueback herring as much a challenge as an opportunity. While they certainly found bass relating to the big schools of forage, but lures resembling these baitfish presented a counterintuitive conundrum.

“We were not using any (herring) imitators, we were using finesse worms,” LaDart said. “It’s hard to imitate something that the bass eat so much. You put something down there that stands out in a big school of bait, the fish go after it more because it stands out. When you try to imitate the forage, your bait can blend in too much.”

Dustin Gangel, of California State-Long Beach found a creative way for positioning his drop shot bait above the brush piles he was fishing. A traditional drop shot rig with a 12- to 18-inch leader requires anglers fishing brush to either hold the bait in the water column above the structure or drop into the tangled mass and risk snagging or the inability to retrieve a hooked fish.

Gangel rigged his drop shot on a 9-foot leader and simply dropped his rig next to a brush pile and let his bait hover in the strike zone. This yielded an effective presentation that was easily managed.