Hard Baits for Fry Guarders

If your local lake looks like someone spilled a canister of black pepper on the surface, that signifies a prime time opportunity – the young of year bass fry are out and the bass guarding them can be easy pickings.

For Michael Murphy, this is a fun time to chase bass. He sometimes does it with a prototype floating Flit jerkbait, but most of the time his primary tool is an IMA Roumba, the finest wake bait on the market.

“You want to look for fry in calm water,” he said. “The fish corral them out of the current. If you see empty beds and know that only a week or two prior they were on them, they can’t be far off.”

Because flat water is so critical, he pursues this pattern in spawning coves protected from the elements. In particular, he likes pockets which twist around a corner or dogleg in the back. In other words, places completely protected from the wind. If you can see all the way to the back of it from the main lake, that’s less than perfect.

While he sometimes targets balls of fry he can see, he admitted that as a general matter “if you can see them, the fish guarding the fry knows you’re there, so it’s important to just go fishing. A lot of times you’ll blind cast and see fry jumping out of the path of your Roumba.”

He retrieves the Roumba as slowly as possible while still achieving its signature wide wobble. He likened it to “nails across a chalkboard” for protective bass, and favors patterns that imitate a bluegill or baby bass, anything to trigger the territorial instincts.

Typically, the strikes are vicious and the hookups are solid, but if he gets a short strike, he’ll fire back in with a dropshotted soft plastic or a Zappu Wacky Jig Head. If he didn’t snare ‘em the first time, this is almost a surefire way to put bass in the boat. He recognizes that just because some fish are guarding fry doesn’t mean that all of them have finished the spawning ritual, so even if he’s still looking for active beds, aggressive casts with the Roumba will often turn up late spawners, especially from deeper beds that most anglers miss.