The standard rig should have two hooks – a treble hook through the lip of the shiner and a trailing single or treble in the tail of the shiner or held alongside with a rubber band. A bobber big enough to keep the shiner from dragging it underwater should be placed three to four feet above the bait. When a big bass hits that shiner and pulls the bobber underwater, count to 10 slowly and then reel in until your line is taut, and only then lift your rod. The bass will hook itself.
I’m telling you this upfront because big shiners may be the best way to catch trophy-size bass. But if you want more consistent action on bass, let me tell you about my favorite bass bait, and it’s not big shiners.
First, I have to tell you about Mud Turtle.
For many decades, my three fishing buddies and I would travel every spring or fall to Mud Turtle, a small lake in Canada. The lake is only accessible by a farm tractor. Even if I could tell you the exact location of Mud Turtle, I won’t because my buddies would likely have me whacked. A farmer would haul us to the lake on a flatbed hooked to his tractor. The trip was several miles. Two heavy steel boats were waiting for us when we reached Mud Turtle. We loaded our gear and motored up the lake to a couple of small cabins where we would stay and fish for three or four days. We always had a ton of tackle and lures, as well as a bucket of nightcrawlers that we’d bought at the 1000 Island Bait Shop at the border crossing into Canada.
But it wasn’t all those lures and worms that got us so anxious to fish Mud Turtle. We already knew we had the best bass bait; we just had to catch them. The frogs were the most consistent live bass bait I have ever fished.