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Carolina Rigs sure-fire trick for big bass

Kevin, Brian and Bill Kolstad show off one of many bass caught last week on Lake George. From now until the ice forms, bass fishing can be phenomenal. A good approach to catch big bass is a Carolina rig. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Water temperatures are gradually, yet steadily declining on area lakes. As the water cools, the stratified layers begin to blend together.

This process, known as turnover, actually takes several weeks. Anglers often talk about the lakes "turning over" in the fall after seeing numerous floating weeds and debris in addition to a decrease in water clarity. Not all lakes turn over at the same time or in the same manner. Some lakes don't display the signs of turnover even though the water temperatures mix.

The lakes haven't "turned over" but they are definitely in the beginning stages of the process.

And from now until the lakes are solid, a fun species to chase is bass.

The final day to legally harvest smallmouth bass is Sunday, Sept. 11. Anglers can continue to fish for smallmouth until the end of the season Feb. 26, 2012, but all smallmouth caught must be immediately released.

Largemouth bass can be harvested until the season closes on Feb. 26, 2012. Yet many anglers fish for bass for the sheer enjoyment of the battle.

Numerous techniques and presentations will fool largemouth bass to bite. Yet one that is often forgotten about is the Carolina rig.

A Carolina rig is essentially the same as a Roach, Lindy or live bait rig. There's a weight, swivel, a length of line used as leader material, a hook and a soft plastic bait.

The way the system works is the sinker stays in contact with the bottom while the soft plastic bait such as an imitation lizard slowly drags across the bottom. Rigging the plastic bait weedless decreases the number of hang-ups.

Brass bullet sinkers are popular with anglers that do a lot of Carolina rigging. The shape of the bullet sinker prevents the rig from getting caught in vegetation. Sinker size ranges from as little as 1/8 ounce to about 1 ounce. The larger weights come in handy for targeting deep water and while fishing during extremely windy days. Personally, I rarely use a bullet weight over ½ ounce while Carolina rigging.

An easy way to create a Carolina rig is with Northland Tackle's Sling Shot weight. It's got a rubber core that allows you to place the weight anywhere on your line without retying.

Carolina rigs work best in and around deep water vegetation. Depths typically vary from about 8 to 20 feet of water. The key element to land largemouth however is weeds, not simply depth. Having confidence in your marine electronics is advantageous in locating the underwater vegetation.

Once you've found your target area, cast the Carolina rig out and let it sink. Bass often hit the offering once it has hit bottom and sat for a few seconds.

It's important to work a Carolina rig slowly. If you think you're going slow enough, slow down even more.

Since you're fishing around deep weeds with a Carolina rig, it's possible to have a fish hit even right beneath the boat. When a fish bites don't hesitate, simply set the hook!