How Deep Will You Go

Photo and story by Travis Perret What is the deepest you will fish for bass? Many fishermen won’t fish water deeper than, 20 or 30 feet. FLW professional Robbie Dodson wants you to rethink that question. He has been known to catch fish in 80 to 100 feet of water. He has won tournaments catching fish off trees that are 100 feet deep. His secret is to be very, very patient.


If you haven’t heard of Dodson you might think he is a little crazy for fishing in water that deep. However, his tournament stats and wins speak for themselves. He is not the flashiest fisherman on the circuit or the loudest, but he is one of the best. You just don’t know it yet.


Dodson has won 15 boats during his fishing career. That stat alone should impress you but there’s more. He has won three (what are now known as) Rayovac tournaments in 2008, 2011, and 2012. In six years on the FLW circuit he has averaged $53,000 a year in winnings. He has three Forrest Wood Cup Appearances with a 10th place finish in 2013 and a 14th place finish in 2011.


If you ever see Dodson on the water you might not know he is a professional fisherman. In the age of logos plastered on every square inch of a 23 foot wrapped boat and Power Poles awkwardly protruding from the back, Dodson goes unnoticed in his white unwrapped no Power Pole Ranger. Dodson is on the water to impress you with his fishing skills.


Patience and persistency is what has made Dodson a solid fisherman. When the days turn cold and the water temperature drops into the 40s, you’ll see Dodson in his Ranger putting fish in his live well when others are not. He is pulling these fish from some of the deepest water a bass fisherman will ever be in. The secret is finding the right tree and being patient.


Dodson’s lure is not actually dropping to 100 feet. The bases of the trees are rooted 100 feet down but they top out in about 30 feet. He is fishing the tops of the trees but believes the fish are coming out of those deep trees when they see his Luck-E-Strike jerkbait.


Some of Dodson’s fishing spots have been handed down from his father, Robert “Quinn” Dodson and those underwater wooded locations have produced year after year. Dodson recounts, “I remember fishing timber with my dad and he would throw a jerkbait out there, crank it a few times, set the pole down and pour some coffee. He would then drink the cup of coffee, pour a refill, pick up his rod, reel in the slack and make a little flick. The fish would smash it.”


What Dodson and his dad figured out over the years is that if you reeled your bait in too fast, the fish would follow it and never strike the bait. However, if you let it rest and did not move it, the fish would actually sit and stare at it. After 60 seconds or more, a very slight twitch would cause them to strike it.


Dodson says, “ If you jerk the bait, it pulls it too far from them. So you just want to make the bait roll a little on its side. For some reason this causes them to hit it.”


One important factor to remember is when you have a jerkbait sitting in the water for long periods, it is important to have the right tackle. Dodson recommends Maxima Ultragreen monofilament line in 10-pound test. Maxima monofilament will allow the bait to sit in one place in the water column. It won’t cause the bait to sink or rise.


Dodson also recommends Luck-E-Strike jerkbaits. He says, ”They are the best overall jerkbait on the market. The cast ability of a Luck-E-Strike jerkbait is so much better than the old school jerkbaits. The new colors and finishes catch more fish. And they are more affordable than many of the other jerkbaits on the market.”


So, when the water temps are cold like they are now in so many areas of the country, ask yourself this question: “How deep will you go?” Look for those deep trees and once you find one that produces fish, make sure to way point it and year after year you’ll have yourself a spot that can win those winter tournaments.