I have said many times that New Jersey is an underrated big bass State for the Northeast. Not everyone believes me when I say it. For all the doubters, you need to visit the Instagram page of Scott Cassaday @njbassin_21. Scott knows how to catch big New Jersey bass, and he shares his knowledge with us in this interview.
You post a ton of giant Northeast bass on your Instagram. What is your approach to fishing?
I appreciate the compliment on the fish I have posted to Instagram. Fishing has always been a part of my life and I take great excitement from the sport.
My approach to fishing has and will continue to be to learn as much as possible about the sport to become the best angler I can. I would say this desire to continually learn has helped me catch more and bigger fish.
To me, any largemouth weighing 5 pounds or more in NJ is a large fish. These larger fish get this way by being smart and do not come easy. Larger bass will take advantage of any mistake you make.
Although I don’t consider myself a trophy fisherman, there are certain things we can do as fishermen to help stack the odds in our favor of catching this caliber of fish. For me, confidence is most important. Fishing can be such a mental game at times and having confidence and trusting your instincts are essential.
Second, I am always open to learn new techniques so I can have greater confidence in using a variety of baits that can be applied in different situations. Being flexible and adjusting techniques based on what the fish are telling you is key.
Finally, I buy the best equipment and tackle I can afford. This allows me to present baits correctly, and to have confidence in my tackle should I hook into a giant bass!
What are your favorite big bass baits?
Without question, my favorite big bass bait is the jig and pig. I have caught more big fish on a jig and pig than any other bait combined.
I like the versatility that a jig provides. You can fish any level of the water column with a jig. If you are fishing bottom structure you can drag a football jig. They can be flipped and pitched into shallow cover and can be used for sight fishing on beds. I use a swim jig a lot in the fall to mimic bait fish and all presentations have a propensity for a big bite. Some of my biggest fish have come from working a jig on a piece of isolated cover that other anglers may have overlooked.
In terms of a trailer, I try to match the season and activity level. If I am looking for a trailer with a lot of action I prefer Strike King’s Rage Craw and in winter I want a more subtle action from a chunk style trailer.
Another lure that has helped me catch larger fish is a crankbait. I like how I can cover a large amount of water and create reaction bites from otherwise inactive fish. Whether I am throwing a square bill or a deep diving crankbait, I always want the lure to deflect off the cover or the bottom. This is the key to generating more and bigger bites.
Fall is big bass time. Out of the baits you listed above, which get most of your attention during the fall?
In the fall, it is imperative to find the baitfish. Shad are migrating this time of year into the backs of creeks and that is where you will find the bass.
One tip I would suggest is to pay attention to your surroundings, especially the birds. Chances are if you see birds the baitfish will be nearby.
In early Fall I typically will generate big bites with either a crankbait or spinnerbait. As fall progresses I switch over to football jigs and suspending jerkbaits. I will experiment with the jerkbait’s cadence to see what delivery the fish react to.
Finally, one of my favorite big bass lures in the late fall is a buzzbait. I have caught bass in late fall on a buzzbait when the water temperatures were only in the low 50’s!
How about the early spring?
In early spring fishing, I focus on shallow water fishing and target docks, rocky shorelines, back of pockets, etc. I like to start my day with a topwater lure in the spring such as a walking style bait or buzzbait.
As the day progresses, I will typically reach for a spinnerbait or chatterbait especially if its windy or cloudy. Then as the sun comes up I like to slow down and work soft plastics such as a shaky head, texas rigged creature bait or lizard.
One of my favorite ways to catch bass this time of year is when they are on beds. I am gaining confidence in this method but still have plenty to learn. Last year I was on a clear water lake where visibility was at least 6-8 feet. I was surprised to see that bass were bedding in deeper water so don’t assume all bass spawn in shallow water like I did.
What are you favorite New Jersey big bass waters to fish?
My favorite big bass lake to fish in NJ is Manasquan Reservoir. I live in the southern part of the state so I don’t frequent it as often as I would like but Manasquan offers superior smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing.
There are many different ways to catch fish at Manasquan but I have had the most success flipping small jigs along the standing timber as well as fishing jerkbaits, tubes and drop shots near the riprap.
In the summertime, it’s hard to beat dragging a Carolina Rig on the drop offs out deep. Manasquan offers anglers the real opportunity to catch a trophy bass.
My next favorite big bass waters would be the number of small lakes that comprise NJ. I have vivid memories of sitting down at the kitchen table with my dad looking at a map of the state and picking a different lake each weekend to explore as a child. This was a tradition we followed for years.
This gave me the opportunity to fish many different bodies of water and this is when I really fell in love with fishing. I still have my original 8-foot Pond Prowler boat that I use to this day. It is surprising how many big bass frequent these smaller lakes throughout the state. I love getting out on my bigger bass boat, but that smaller boat still sees plenty of action!
You use Dobyns rods. Which of their rods do you use?
When it comes to selecting a fishing rod, I am looking for certain key characteristics. I feel that Dobyns has done an excellent job producing a rod with great sensitivity, strength, weight and balance.
I personally have different rods from several of their series including Champion Extreme, Champion, and Fury. Dobyns also has a great warranty program on their rods that I can personally attest they stand behind. Dobyns has a great selection of models to choose from to help fish a specific bait or technique.
For example, one of my favorite new purchases is Dobyns DX703C with an extra fast action. This rod has helped me excel at skipping jigs. Its extra fast action helps to propel the jig forward but it still has a strong backbone to quickly pull a bass from under a dock or laydown.
What are your favorite reels to fish?
Most reels I use are from Lew’s. What I really prefer about Lew’s reels are they are affordable, light-weight, have a smooth drag, and great distance achieved when casting.
When selecting a reel, I match it to the application I will be using it for. For example, Lew’s offer several high-speed ratio reels if you will be flipping and lower ratio reels for applications like cranking.
My personal favorite reel that I own from Lew’s is their BB1 Pro Speed Spool casting reel. It has a large spool capacity and makes an excellent choice where long distance casts are needed like deep cranking.
What type of line do you prefer for chasing largemouth?
The line I use for most applications is fluorocarbon. I will vary the pound test based on the application I will be fishing. I fish the majority of my texas rigs and jigs on 18-20 pound fluorocarbon and have yet to lose a bass because of line breakage.
If I am crankbait fishing I will vary the diameter based on how deep or shallow I want the crankbait to run. I use monofilament on top-water applications like poppers and walking style baits and use 50-pound braid for frog fishing in heavy slop, pads and grass.
Do you have sponsors or pro staff for anyone?
I do not have sponsors or pro staff. However, I can attest to the quality of the company’s products I have mentioned above!
What is your personal best New Jersey largemouth?
My personal best New Jersey largemouth bass is 7 pounds 8 ounces. It was caught on a black/blue Dirty Jig with a Strike King rage craw trailer. It was caught in the early evening of June 2015.
I pitched the jig next to a dock and when the bass first reached the surface of the water I knew it was a special fish. I could immediately tell it was over six pounds and always carry a scale to verify the exact weight.
It was a special week to the say the least, as I caught my personal best bass early in the week and my son was born three days later! I released the bass back and had a replica bass made to its exact dimensions for lifetime memories!!
Thank you Scott for the great information. I am headed out today as this interview is posted and will keep your advice in mind. Hoping your New Jersey strategies will work a little west in Pennsylvania as well.