Fishing weedless baits in the kelp for calico bass is probably the most exciting aspect of inshore fishing in Southern California.
There’s really nothing like firing your bait down a long lane in the kelp and burning it past multiple ambush points during the retrieve. Even though you’re expecting it, you’re still surprised when that big bass materializes out of the kelp and detonates on your lure. You give it a pause to turn on the bait before swinging hard and the fight is on. The rod loaded to its maximum while the bass lunges side to side in an attempt to escape. Despite the bass’s determination you manage to turn him away from the heavy cover and get him coming to the boat. Just as it looks like you’re in the clear the bass makes one final lunge towards a lone kelp stalk. You pull for all you’re worth but the bass has made it around the corner and the hook is pinned against the stalk. Just as you drop the tip to give the bass the slack it needs to swim out, the big fish shakes it’s head and swims off while you’re left to untangle your hook from the kelp.
That’s never the way you want the story to end, but anyone who’s spent time fishing weedless baits in the kelp knows that it happens more often that we’d like to admit. The good news is that the guy who brought weedless swimbait fishing for calico bass to the mainstream has designed a hook that will help eliminate that problem almost entirely.
Corey Sanden may be best known for designing slugs and weedless swimbaits, but the mastermind behind MC Swimbaits has recently branched out into hook design. Working with Trokar Hooks, Sanden designed a patented secondary barb to keep lip hooked fish from shaking the hook. While this barb will work in every application where bass are fished in heavy cover, the initial hook was designed to fish with the 7″ MC Weedless Swimbait.
The TK 175 “Kelp Trick” hook is based on the 9/0 Trokar 1/2-ounce keel weighted swimbait hook with the addition of the patented second barb. The barb may look prominent and damanging, but it’s far enough back on the shank of the hook that it will not come into play on fish that are hooked inside the mouth.
But if you lip hook a bass, the second barb will slide through the hole created in the skin between the lip and mouth; effectively pinning the bass to the back half of the hook.
With the bass that far back on the hook, it is impossible for it to use a kelp stalk as leverage to shake the hook. This allows the angler to slack off on the line and get the bass to swim free of the kelp without having to worry about it pulling a “kelp trick” and swimming free.
In addition to the 1/2 ounce model, Trokar will be offering a 3/4 ounce model, the TK 176. This added weight will allow the 7″ MC Weedless to be fished as either a surface bait, a pot hole bait (dropped through openings in the kelp) and a bait for fishing boiler rocks or shallow reefs. According to Sanden, the added weigh is enough to give the bait a swimming action on the sink, so the potential applications for this bait are limitless.
Both of the Kelp Trick Series hooks should be available in stores by late summer or early fall.