I was bass fishing recently with my 19-year-old son, Elliott, and he informed me that the water temperature was 83 degrees. Hot! — especially for early summer in Minnesota.
As predicted, we found a few small- and medium-sized largemouth bass waiting in ambush under the shade of lily pads. Thankfully we found bigger fish resting at the base of the weedline, which in this small, shallow off-colored lake meant 6 to 8 feet. (Maximum lake depth of 25 feet.)
In the 2.5 hours before sunset, we caught a dozen bass, with the biggest measuring 20 inches and weighing 4 pounds, 2 ounces. A couple of our other fish weighed 3 to 3.5 pounds, so it was an excellent outing on a tiny local lake.
During the 15-minute drive home, our conversation turned to targeting big bass, those fish weighing 5 pounds or more, which in our home state of Minnesota is seen as the benchmark. As I drove, Elliott scrolled through hundreds of fishing pics on his phone, then said, “You know, not sure why, but a couple years ago I threw a 10-inch worm a lot more than I do now, and maybe it’s coincidence, but I used to catch more 5 pounders. I catch more bass up to 4 pounds on smaller worms and other lures, like frogs in the pads, but a high percentage of my biggest bass have been caught on big worms. Think I need to go back to that strategy.”
Several companies offer magnum-sized worms. A few to consider include the 10-inch Bass Pro Shops Ribbontail Worm, 10- or 12-inch Culprit Original Worm, 12-inch Mann’s HN Jelly Worm (HN means hardnose), 10- or 12-inch Berkley Power Worm, 10.5-inch Zoom Ol’ Monster and the 12-inch Zoom Magnum Ol’ Monster..
Check out the YouTube video below from veteran bass pro Randy Blaukat as he discusses his favorite big worm for summer bass, the 12-inch Zoom Magnum Ol’ Monster. He also gives tips on worm color choice and proper rigging.
Regarding hooks for these big worms: Believe it or not, you don’t have to go “crazy big” in size. Sure, you could use a 7/0, but you’ll hook just as many fish (in my experience) with a 5/0. My favorite is the 5/0 Eagle Claw L18 Light Wire Finesse Worm Hook. Because these 10- and 12-inch worms are thick, the thinner wire of the L18 penetrates the plastic and into a fish’s mouth quicker and easier than a heavier hook such as the Eagle Claw TK135 Monster Flippin Hook. If your baitcaster is spooled with 50- or 65-pound braid, then a heavier hook is fine, but I typically fish these magnum worms with 20-pound-test Berkley Big Game mono. (Why I choose mono over fluorocarbon for worm fishing is the topic for a future article.)