Guide Andy Pack of Packs Landing said it's prime time to use live bait for largemouth, and the fishing is excellent right now.
"The water temperature is fairly low and there's extensive cover in the swamp flats and back in the standing cypress tree areas," Pack said. "The water situation in the swamp is ideal right now. The colder water has the bass less aggressive for artificial lures but very willing to take live bait. Not only are the prospects of catching a trophy fish very good with live bait – fish to eight pounds and larger – but so is catching a limit of quality fish."
Pack (803-452-5514) said he is using a simple rig that consists of baitcasting tackle with 17-pound line. He said a 6-inch shiner is a good average size for bait hooked through the lips or just in front of the dorsal fin. He puts a float on the line from a foot down to four or five deep depending on the water depth he's fishing. He adds a small split shot to keep the bait down but not large enough to restrict it from free swimming, and he uses a 1/0 hook, again small enough to allow the live bait to move naturally.
"There are different ways to fish shiners," Pack said. "One of my favorite is to get in the swamp and cast the bait around targets such as trees, stumps and logs. I usually work those that are at the edge of deeper water, especially along the deeper runs in the swap where there is some current. Plus, I fish the open spots or 'lakes' in the swamp as well. Also, the areas where creeks enter the main runs in the swamp are ideal, and I fish the eddy water as well as any stumps or logs that offer target opportunities.
"Always look for bass schooling and fish those places," Pack said. "Bass are schooling right now, and when you see fish schooling, move in quiet and drift-fish that entire area, and you can quickly catch multiple fish. Another favorite technique of mine is to drift over stumpy flats that have lots of woody cover."