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They Use Winning Tactics to Catch Big Bass

Whether you’d like to do better in bass tournaments or just want to catch bigger fish, take a tip from Capt. Ray Peterson:

“I try to do something different,” Peterson said. “A lot of times I find something just off the wall different.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smoked them dragging a 12-inch worm on the bottom in the middle of the canal.”

As he explained, most anglers fish around the rocks and vegetation in the shallow water along the banks of Everglades canals. But there is plenty of overlooked structure on the bottom of canals where bass wait to ambush baitfish and where they’ll eat a Carolina-rigged plastic worm.

Peterson, of Plantation, Fla., and fellow captain Bill Davis, of Jupiter, who both run private sportfishing boats, used that technique to win a King of the Glades tournament in April.

That qualified them for the King of the Glades Classic in June at the Harold A. Campbell Recreation Area on the Broward-Palm Beach county line. They won South Florida’s most coveted bass tournament title by nearly 21/2 pounds by fishing a Zara Spook and a Spro Frog painfully slowly, another seldom-used tactic because few anglers have the patience to do it.

Peterson and Davis will try to become the first Kings to successfully defend their crowns when the 2014 King of the Glades Team Trail begins Jan. 5. Entry fee for each of the five tournaments — three out of Everglades Holiday Park and two on Lake Okeechobee out of Clewiston — is $75 per boat (visit kingoftheglades.com).

The top three teams at each tournament and the top teams in the point standings qualify for the Classic, which is June 1 at a location that won’t be revealed until the evening before.

Peterson and Davis also are signed up for the inaugural Channing Crowder’s Bass Fishing Tournament Jan. 31 out of Everglades Holiday Park, which features a first prize of $10,000 and an entry fee of $200 per two-angler team (visit ccbasstournament.com).

Their plan for all of the tournaments is to fish places and techniques that might not produce a lot of bites, but the bass they catch will be big.

Peterson demonstrated the effectiveness of that strategy on a recent trip out of Holiday Park. Instead of throwing lures such as a plastic stick worm or hard jerkbait, which have been catching lots of little bass, he used big topwater lures in places where small bass were scarce.

“When the dinks are snapping, you’re in the wrong place,” Peterson said. “I believe that when you’re catching nothing but small bass, there are no big bass around.”

Dinks had not been biting when Peterson saw some vegetation move as he retrieved his lure.

Realizing that the vegetation wasn’t moving because of the wind, Peterson quickly reeled in, switched to an outfit with a Zoom Fluke tied on and cast to the vegetation, where a 7-plus-pound bass slammed the plastic jerkbait.

“That’s a full-grown Everglades bass,” Peterson said after he lifted the fish into his 18-foot flats boat.

Having a Fluke ready to throw was no accident. Peterson and Davis, who have been fishing together since high school, are always ready to follow up each other when a fish tips them off to its presence.

“If I get a follower, I’ll reel in my lure as fast as I can so the fish doesn’t follow it to the boat and spook,” Peterson said, “and Bill will catch that same fish that just boiled on my lure.

“You’ve got to give it something different, like a Fluke or a Senko, because you can twitch it and let it fall. It’s an easy bait to eat.”