Outside Chance: Bass Fishing with Kendall Ulsh


by Jack Payne



I was lucky enough to spend some time with one of Michigan’s great bass anglers, Kendall Ulsh. Kendall is from Schoolcraft Michigan and a regular on many of the bass tournament trails. What I wanted to know is how a tournament angler thinks and how that process can translate down to the weekend angler like myself.

“I trust my electronics and I have a basic knowledge of what a bass does during a calendar year”, said Kendall. He relies heavily on side scan and down scan. Kendall explained that on many of our small southern lakes the female bass have completed their spawning ritual. The deeper lakes and the northern lakes will still have spawning bass. What this means to the anglers is that lots of male bass will still be in the area of the beds or nests. The females have moved out slightly to recuperate.

Some anglers enjoy spot fishing the nest but care must be taken because these males are there to protect the nest. This can be the toughest time of the year but within two weeks all will change. What an angler needs to remember is fish the edges right now. The edge of the lily pads, the edge of any type of weeds or the edge of the first breakline or drop-off.  Can be a dock, a stump or a log or a retaining wall. Edges and cover.

“I have two lures or techniques that I love to fish during the post spawn and prior to the peak summer periods,” said Ulsh. “A weightless worm or a jig with a plastic action tail.” A weightless worm can easily be a Bass Stopper Worm. Another favorite is the Charlie Brewer slider worm. Fish the Slider Worm on a Slider Head for best results.

Simply cast it out and let it sink. Watch your line for any movement and be quick on reeling in your slack line and setting the hook. The super sharp small hooks will latch in easily.

The second method Kendall mentioned is my bread and butter approach to fishing of most species. A jig head tipped with an action tail or a twister tail is a killer. I like a long shank wide gap hook for this type of fishing. The Charlie Brewer slider heads and the round ball heads from Old Fart Lures have extended gaps which result in more hooked fish. The Mr. Twister Tails are great and the Bass Grubs or the Crappie Grubs from Charlie Brewer are my best plastics. Start small, perhaps a 2 inch tail and work up to a 3 inch tail. Also, grab a 1/16 ounce jig head and work up from there.

“My approach is a simple cast, count down and then a slow but steady retrieve,” said Ulsh. This is much like the Do Nothin method that Charlie Brewer was famous for. Cast out, count down 2-4 then retrieve. Next cast maybe let it hit bottom and then reel slow while polishing the rocks so to speak.

A third approach that is not used by the tournament anglers is an old crawler harness. One ofmy favorites is the Slow Death Rig from Macks bait with the Smyle Blade. A two mile an hour breeze will move this delicate blade. Bass will pound a crawler rig but please, set the hook ASAP. You do not want the hook swallowed where it cannot be removed safely unless you plan on eating the bass.

“Summer pattern bass will sit on deeper flats,” said Ulsh. Bass like slow tapering points that lead into flats with depths of 15-30 feet. Bass will slide up to feed and down to cooler waters or during a severe barometer drop.

A great and simple technique for deep water bass is the drop shot rig. A drop show rig can be fished vertically or cast out and retrieved. You can use a minnow or a leech on a hook or a jig or a tube bait or a wacky worm. Drop shot rigs are super versatile and a super easy rig to tie and use.

The techniques mentioned are great for all species of fish, just adapt the size of the lure or bait to the species being targeted. Gill anglers, the largest gills will often be in the same deep waters that the bass are using. And if walleyes are in your lake the minnow or leech is a killer combo.