Pro's Picks For Fall Bassin'
Big Baits Score Big Fall Bass With Kevin VanDam
Big Thumper Spinnerbait:
This is my first choice in many instances because I can fish it at all levels, from waking it near the surface to a couple of feet down, depending upon water depth and the mood of the bass. IÕll fish it along chunk rock banks or around laydowns and grass. I like 1/2- to 3/4-ounce spinnerbaits with big blades; either a big thumper, double Colorado combination or a pair of big willow blades, depending upon the water clarity. If stained, I opt for the Colorado combination and will upsize the rear blade so it moves a lot of water and will dress it with a Strike King Rage Tail Grub to increase the overall profile size. If the water is clear, IÕll use the double willow combination. IÕll throw shad patterns because thatÕs what the fish are keying on Ñ white if the water is clear or chartreuse/white if itÕs stained.
Anytime there are a lot of shallow targets in the water, I will be reaching for the buzzbait. ItÕs a phenomenal choice for fishing over milfoil, hydrilla or lily pads. IÕll even work it over large ledge rocks along the bank. The spinnerbait is a good choice if itÕs windy, but the buzzbait is more effective when the water is slick calm. I fish the buzzbait just fast enough to keep it on the surface. Buzzbait performance isnÕt about speed; itÕs about making a commotion and staying in the strike zone longer. ThatÕs why I fish the lure tight to a rocky bank, on the edge of a grass line, or over the outline of a log. I usually throw a 3/8-ounce KVD model with a gold blade or a Strike King Premier Model with a nickel blade. The key to a good buzzbait is how it squeaks, a feature you can enhance with a couple of minor modifications. First, crimp the rivet right behind the blade so it canÕt spin on the shaft when the bait rubs against it. I also Òrough upÓ the back of the rivet with a file to make it squeak louder as the blade turns against it. I prefer black-skirted buzzbaits during low light periods or if the water is stained. If the water is dark, I will dull up the shine of a blade with a Sharpie pen. It still gives off a little flash, but more importantly, provides a dark silhouette. If the water is clearer and sky is bright, I use a white or chartreuse/white skirt and nickel blade.
If the water is dirty (a foot or less of visibility), I like a KVD 2.5 Square Bill crankbait because it moves a lot of water and deflects well off cover. Dirty water puts fish shallower, and that bait triggers reaction strikes. My favorite color is chartreuse/black back.
This is a niche bait, yet one that will catch giant bass in ultra clear water under windy conditions. In clear water, bass can get too good of a look at the other baits I mentioned, so the swimbait provides a more natural appearance, especially if there is some wind. I will fish a shad-colored Shadalicious in 4 1/2- or 5-inch, depending upon the size of bass in the area. If fishing around a lot of cover, IÕll rig it with a Mustad belly-weighted hook and weedless (Texas style). If IÕm fishing over rocks or where cover is sparse, IÕll put it a 1/4-ounce jighead and leave the hook exposed. I fish the swimbait with a slow steady retrieve, imitating a big shad moving through the strike zone. Other techniques will catch fish this time of year, but these larger fast movers are the ones that appeal to big bass most. WouldnÕt you rather catch a few 4s, 5s, and 6s than a sack of dinks?
Big Bait Score Big Fall Bass November 12, 2012. Bassmaster.com (Kevin VanDam)
Bill Lowen's Fall Lure Selection
Tightlines UV Tube:
Lowen stresses that your baits and presentations should mimic shad, so he Texas rigs a 4-inch UV Tube with a 1/4-ounce Reins tungsten sinker and works it around visible cover such as stumps and laydowns. "The bass are really focused in on that shad migration, so I try to make this look like one by snapping it around rather than dragging it. I'm looking for a reaction bite." Lowen snaps his tube with a 7-6 All Pro APX Elite flipping stick with 17-pound Trilene fluorocarbon.
Ima Square Bill:
Lowen designed this flat-sided crankbait for Ima because he wanted a big profile bait for crashing in and around cover. "The key for this is to crank it faster than you would a normal crankbait," he says. "This makes it run more erratic than it does normally." Lowen sticks with either a chartreuse/black back or bone or citrus shad hues to closely mimic the silvery forage. He throws them with a 7-foot, medium-heavy All Pro APX Elite crankin' stick and 15-pound Trilene fluorocarbon.
D&L Tackle Bill Lowen's Swim Jig:
"This may be the easiest way to catch a bass this time of year. If you can throw a spinnerbait, then you can throw this - and for me, a swim jig catches more fish," he says. "Work it just how you do a spinnerbait: Throw it out and reel it in." Lowen tosses a white or black-and-blue 1/4-ounce model tipped with a Tightlines UV grub on an All Pro Bill Lowen Signature Series Swim Jig rod. Regardless of water clarity, he always uses 30-pound braid.
D&L Baby Advantage jig:
Lowen likes this compact jig for its speedy falling action. He hops it around the same shallow cover as he does the tube. "Once again, this is great at getting a reaction bite." He hangs a Tightlines UV Beaver on for maximum descent speed and appeal. Green pumpkin and white are his go-to colors. "Whatever you're doing this time of year - be it cranking or flipping - it needs to be fast and about the reaction bite," Lowen says.
What Bill Lowen Throws In November November 2012 Bassmaster (David Hunter Jones pg. 27)
Flipping Fall Bass With Todd Faircloth
"In Texas lakes, I'm usually fishing grasslines in 8 to 20 feet of water, and the water color is clear to slightly stained," Faircloth begins. "The grass usually quits growing at the edge of some sort of dropoff - a creek, ditch, underwater point, etc. The fish travel along these contour breaks, and they use the grass as cover. So anglers should look for contour changes with grass growing on them." More specifically, Faircloth looks both visually and electronically for places where a grassline turns or makes a point. "These bends and points are the most likely places for the bass to concentrate," he notes. "They're natural ambush places where they can hide in the cover and watch for forage fish to swim by." He adds, "Sometimes the grass will be matted up on the surface. Other times it'll be growing to within 2 to 3 feet of the surface, but you can still see it [with polarized sunglasses on]. In both cases, you can find the prime spots just by looking. These are the best conditions for fishing this pattern. "But other times when the grass is a little deeper, you have to depend on your graph to see it and to follow the breaks. Still, the same rules apply. You want to work the edges of the grassbeds and focus mainly on those points and turns in the cover."
To do this, Faircloth flips a 1 to 1.5 ounce All-Terrain Tackle Grassmaster jig mated with a Yamamoto Flappin' Hog trailer. His go-to colors are a black/blue jig and a watermelon Hog. He explains, "Bass holding in these deep grasslines in the fall are mainly feeding on bluegill, and this color combination matches this prey species." Faircloth picks his jig size based on water clarity. "The clearer the water, the faster I want my bait to fall, so the heavier the jig I'll use. I'm looking for a reaction bite with this presentation. I don't want the fish to have much time to study the bait. Instead, I want it dropping by them fast so they have to make a split-second decision on whether or not to bite it. I believe this is the best way to trigger strikes in clear water ," Faircloth says.
As he slides along, Faircloth makes a new pitch every 4 to 5 feet, over and over, always just ahead of his boat's bow. When he pitches into the grass, he lets his jig free spool to the bottom. When it hits, he engages his reel, hops it once or twice, then reels it back up quickly and makes the next pitch. He says 90 percent of his bites come on the first drop he makes into a new spot. He calls this technique "speed flipping." He says, "I don't spend a lot of time looking for individual fish. Instead, I'm looking for groups of fish. If I can find a group clustered together in one small area, I can load up in a hurry." Faircloth adds, "It's amazing how much water you can cover fishing like this, and this is what you have to do. You just keep working those grass edges and searching until you hit a place where some bass are holding. You might go a long way without a bite, then you'll hit an area the size of a pickup truck where the bass will be gathered up. This is what you're looking for. This is where you can put together a good limit in just a few minutes." Faircloth continues, "When you hook a fish, you need to land it and get your bait back in the same spot as fast as you can. When you catch one, it's important to keep the bite going. If you're fishing with a partner, he needs to get his bait in there quickly. It's commonplace to get a double in this situation."
Flipping Isn't Just A Summer Thing Novemeber, 2012 Bass Bassmaster (Wade L. Bourne pg. 64 - 65)
How Gerald Swindle Fishes The Football Season
How to Catch 'Em: "It's spinnerbait time, and there ain't a more fun lure out there at this time of year. After fishing slow and deep all summer long, I finally get to go to the back of a creek and cast a spinnerbait," says Swindle. "I'm throwing a spinnerbait to match the shad they're feeding on, and I'm not expecting to catch a school of 5-pounders, but I know I'm going to catch a bunch of fish, with a few 3 or 4 pounders mixed in. You can catch them from a wide variety of habitat, ranging from laydown trees to riprap." Equipment: 20-pound Sunline shooter spooled on a Quantum SL100SPT 6.3:1 Smoke reel.
How to Catch 'Em: "The bass are transitioning to rocks, because rocks hold heat even during the cooler nights of late fall," says the Warrior, Ala., pro. "This is the time when shallow square-bill crankbaits like the RC 1.5 shine. I may start my day toward the back of the creek, but my main focus will be mid-way toward the front of the creek on all rocky banks and riprap shorelines." Equipment: Swindle makes an interesting note that while he loves the slower 5.3:1 Quantum Cranking Classic reel in the spring and summer, speedier reels like a 6.3:1 Energy PT simply seem to trigger more strikes with shallow crankbaits during football season.
How to Catch 'Em: "The water is getting cold enough that they aren't chasing cranks and spinnerbaits as much as they were earlier in the fall. So instead, the jig comes into play," says, the 2004 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. "I'm going to pitch a 3/8-ounce jig to brush around shallow docks, rip rap or laydowns." Equipment: Swindle says he uses a 3/8-ounce jig 90 percent of the time because it has the right rate of fall, descending just slow enough in colder water.
How to Catch 'Em: "I'm going to look for as many sun-drenched rocky banks on a creek channel swing as I can find," says Swindle with arrow straight focus. "Even in the South, the water will likely be in the high 40s or low 50s, so I'm gonna' drag that same 3/8-ounce Arkie jig from the rocky, sunny shoreline out to 15 or 20 feet deep where the creek channel kisses the bank. I'm just dragging it along the bottom until a bass picks up on it. It's key to maintain constant feel and bottom contact." Equipment: Swindle stresses using a quality rod like the 7-foot, 4-inch Quantum EXO that affords ultra-sensitive feel for bites that are sure to be passive and feather-light in early winter's cold water.
How Swindle Fishes Football Season October 23, 2012 Bassmaster.com (Alan McGuckin)
Jeff Kriet Changes Gears For Fall Bass
Kriet focuses his attentions on the backs of creeks and pockets, flats and windy banks, but what he's really looking for is shad. "The shad could be almost anywhere, but those are the high percentage places to look," he adds. "I like areas that have a channel nearby so the bass have some deep water access, but the bass are going to be near the bait."
"I usually like to fish really slowly," he says, "but fall is the one time that I want to cover a lot of water, and my favorite way to do it is by burning a spinnerbait." That's another departure for the affable eight-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier. Fall is one of few times that he ever ties on a spinnerbait, preferring a lipless or square bill crankbait when bass are in thin water. "A big part of this pattern is the right bait," Kriet says. "My favorite spinnerbait for this tactic is a 1/2-ounce Sebile Pro-Shad Finesse Spinnerbait in Holo Greenie. It's a terrific shad imitation, and the bait performs like no other on the market because it's compact, has a unique blade design and works great in clear water, which we have a lot of at this time of year." The blades on the Sebile spinnerbait have the outline of a baitfish, and they're small enough that they provide little "lift." That keeps the lure under the water even at high retrieve speeds. The compactness of the bait allows Kriet to make long casts and cover lots of water. "It's a very natural looking bait, and that means a lot in clear water," he says. "It's important to match your spinnerbait to the shad, so a natural color is key. I think the blades on the Sebile make a difference, too."
Because he's making long casts (and may have to set the hook from long range) and retrieving very fast (which can result in short strikes), Kriet likes a trailer hook on his fall spinnerbaits. It can dramatically cut down on missed bass. "I'm moving fast and covering lots of water, but I want to keep my bait in the strike zone, so I like to move in close to the bank and make parallel casts that keep me in the productive zone as much of the cast as possible. "I also like to give the bait some added action," Kriet says. "While I'm reeling it in, I'm also twitching and moving my rod tip a lot to throw a little slack in the line and make the bait pause and flutter. Sometimes that makes all the difference." Kriet's fall pattern is not without its caveats. "If the bass aren't cooperating," he says, "I'm going to put that spinnerbait down fast and go to something else. When they're on it, it's fantastic - there's no better way to catch them in the fall. But don't go out there and push it for four hours waiting for something to happen. I don't fish this pattern unless I know it's the deal."
Kriet's Fall Gear:
When burning a spinnerbait, Kriet opts for 15-pound-test Hi-Seas Fluorocarbon line spooled on an Abu Garcia Revo casting reel (7:1 gear ratio) mounted on a Falcon swim jig or Falcon Eakins Jig rod. The jig rods have just the action that Kriet likes for spinnerbaiting.
Jeff Kriet Changes Gears For Fall Bass October 30, 2012 Bassmaster.com (Ken Duke)
Mark Menendez Follows The Bait Come Fall
Before he decides what to throw, Menendez will do a little graphing to find likely fish-holding structure. He likes flats and points that are adjacent to deep water. If he were in a tournament, Menendez would try and fill out a limit of smallmouth and spotted bass at these places, and, when it came time to cull, he would head to the creeks in search of largemouths. Once he's on a likely place, he takes the conditions into account before he makes cast No. 1.
"If it's a blustery fall day and there are waves on the lake, I like to throw a spinnerbait and cover water faster than if it's calm," he says. Strike King's Premier Plus spinnerbait gets the nod for his wire-bait duties. He throws his spinnerbaits on 20-pound-test monofilament to keep them higher in the water column without having to use an ultra-fast retrieve. If the day is calmer and he can see baitfish activity, he reaches for a Strike King Spit-N-Shad, a topwater chugger. As long as Menendez feels he can raise fish, he sticks with the Spit-N-Shad. If the bite stops or the wind picks up, he reaches for a lipless crankbait. "After they're done hitting the topwater or the spinnerbait, I'll run a 1/2-ounce Strike King Red Eye Shad through the same places. They've typically just gone a little deeper," he says. After they quit hitting a lipless crankbait, Menendez really slows things down and gets out the "co-angler special" Ñ the shaky head rig. "I like to drag the shaky head along the bottom to clean up any fish that are still hanging around," he says. He uses a 3/16-ounce shaky head with a Strike King ElazTech Finesse Worm on 8-pound-test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line to pick up stragglers.
Following The Bait In Fall November 1, 2012 Bassmaster.com (David Hunter Jones)
Early Fall Tips With Denny Brauer
If you're on the flat side of the lake, you should be looking for isolated pieces of cover. A stump sitting all by itself on an open flat is a perfect place for a bass to set up a feeding station. The baitfish will be drawn to that stump and will make an easy meal for the bass. That doesn't mean, however, that the stump must be large or imposing. Get that idea out of your head. A tiny stickup - maybe no more than a quarter of an inch in diameter - is often all it takes to make a feeding spot. For a bass, this time of the year is about eating in anticipation of the coming winter. Nothing else matters.
The backs of the coves and creeks are somewhat different. Often heavy cover is the key to a good bite, and for some reason the bass that migrate into these areas are late-day feeders. By that I mean that the bite is almost always better in the afternoon and evening in these places than it is in the early morning. I'm not sure why, but I've found that to be true everywhere I've fished around the country. I've often wondered if it has something to do with the plankton and the algae. Maybe it grows or blows into the shallows with the sun and that draws the baitfish into the area. Or it could be that the water is warmer later in the day and that activates everything. Or it could be something we can't even imagine, like the bass migrating out at night and back in during the day. In the end, the reason for this doesn't matter much to us as anglers. As long as we know where the fish are and when to fish for them, we can catch them if we use the right bait. Why is something to talk about later - like when we're bragging about our great catch over supper at the lodge.
My personal fishing preference is the flat side of the lake. The fish there will bite several Strike King baits. Our Pure Poison swim jig, our top-of-the-line spinnerbaits or our 1.5 and 2.5 squarebill crankbaits are all effective in the fall. I love to pitch one of these baits to isolated pieces of cover and pull them around likely looking spots. It's one of my favorite ways to fish. But let's not kid ourselves. A jig can be a tremendous flipping or pitching option at this time of the year, too. Normally, I'll lighten up in fall with a 3/8-ounce model. I don't know exactly why, but the slightly smaller bait seems to catch more fish. At the same time, however, I'm still going with action trailers. I like the Rage Tail Chunk because it has the movement I need to get the bites I want. Another trailer that is just as effective, if not more so, is the Rage Tail Hawg. It's a big, plastic creature bait that fall bass can't resist. It's absolutely one of the most effective fall bass lures I've ever fished with, and I've fished with a lot of them over the years. Color choice is critical in the fall. My lure colors depend upon the water colors. If the water is dark, I like Texas craw for my jig and black neon for my trailer. If the water's a little clearer - common in many places in the fall - I'll switch my jig to green pumpkin craw and my trailer to watermelon red or green pumpkin. One final thought: Not all bass move at the same time. Sometimes they seem to move in waves, sometimes as singles. Either way, if you find a good spot, it's likely to be good for a while in September and on into the middle of October. Fish it until it stops producing.
Tips Fo Flipping And Pitching In Early Fall September 5, 2012 Bassmaster.com (Denny Brauer)
Fall Crankin' With David Fritts
While there are numerous good crankbaits on the market, Fritts noted that the following baits have played a large role in his success. "The Bagleys DB3 is among the best crankbaits ever built," offered Fritts. "The old Poes 400's were really good as are the Rapala DT series. Color depends on water color and time of the year," said Fritts. During the late summer and fall he relies on charteuse with a green back, a color that crankbait anglers have come to know as "Homer." For lakes with a spotted bass population he recommends chartreuse with a blue back. Fritts calls bone with a brown back a top choice for the fall. One area that novice crankbait anglers often overlook is hook selection. Professional anglers like Fritts do everything possible to increase their catch efficiency. If a bait does not come with the correct hooks, it is important to change them out to a properly sized, premium quality model. Fritts recommends the uniquely designed Sure Set hook that he developed with VMC.
"Successful crankbait anglers know that cranking is much more complex than just "chuckin' and windin'. The feel of the bait's movement is very important," explained Fritts. "Understanding how a bait runs, how it wobbles is key." There are no shortcuts to developing this ability, the only way to learn the nuances of each bait is time spent on the water with a crankbait in hand. Having the proper tackle is essential, without it, the novice angler is simply adding time to the learning curve. Rod selection is very important. A good crankbait rod enables an angler to properly present the bait to the bass, allows the fish to engulf the bait and then keeps it hooked. Rods that are too stiff make it easier for a bass to shake free from a crankbait's treble hooks. Fritts has been a long time proponent of fiberglass crankbait rods. Today his rods are made by Lew's. He likes a 7' MH action rod for its all around versatility. When fishing smaller crankbaits he often chooses a 6'6" model. On the other end of the spectrum, Fritts upsizes to a 7'6" model when fishing deep divers. When it comes to selecting a reel, Fritts does not use reels with infinite anti-reverse when fishing crankbaits. "Reels without infinite anti-reverse allow anglers to feel the bait better, "said Fritts. "The infinite anti-reverse mechanism takes away the pressure created by the crankbait and dampens the feel." Reels without infinite anti-reverse have been difficult to find. This will change soon as Fritts has been busy working with Lew's to develop an updated version of the original Lew's BB1 Speed Spools.
Fall Crankin' Locations:
During the fall, shorter days and dropping water temperatures are sure signals to bass that winter is approaching. As a result active bass are looking to feed up prior to the start of the cold water period. Crankbaits are great search lures for covering water and locating concentrations of fish. Fritts likes to look for fall crankbait fish at the mouths or in the backs of creeks. "Sharp breaks and creek channel bends will often draw large concentrations of bass," says Fritts. "Road beds and stump rows are good as well. A combination of rock and brush is one of the best patterns."
Cranking Up A True Champion Fall, 2012 Bass Angler Magazine (Mark Fong pg. 93 - 94)
Ish Monroe's Fall Lure & Gear Selection
Snag Proof Phat Frog:
"If the water's lookin' froggy, this is what I'm going to start with," said Monroe. "This is one of the best ways to catch a giant on the top in the fall." With his Snag Proof signature series frog, Monroe targets any vegetation that he can find this time of year with his frog whether it's submerged or topped out. The vegetation is the key and more important than bottom depth or water temp to him. On cloudy or overcast days he will start with Papa Midnight, his black Snag Proof Phat Frog, whereas on days where the skies are sunny, he opts for Da Man, his white one. Another of his favorites is Sexy Ish if the bluegill are showing themselves and Chronic or Buck Nasty- the brown-tone frogs, if there are gophers present. He starts with long casts and works it back with a "normal" retrieve. He added, "If they're not eatin' it I will speed it up and if they still don't eat I will then try it slow." His gear for the frog is a Daiwa Steez XBD Frog Rod, a Zillion Type-R 7.3:1 Zillion Type R reel with 70# Samurai braid. "Definitely braid, for no stretch," he commented.
River2Sea Biggie Square Bill Crankbait:
"I use this as a search bait or when I find them it's a great primary bait too," stated Monroe. "This is basically what I'm going to start with in most places, if it doesn't look like frog water. I will key in on all rocky areas, rip rap and wood and look for bait fish." Monroe explained that when fishing this River2Sea square bill that he designed, he will seek out the baitfish that are busting the surface and also find them on his Lowrance HDS Gen 2 electronics. He also commented that his signature Biggie Crank is a multiple depth bait and said he fishes it in anything from 1- to 10-feet. The Biggie comes in two sizes - Poppa which is bigger and Smalls which is obviously smaller. He prefers to start with Poppa. His top fall shade is called "I Know It" with a Sexy Shad type coloring. The 7-time Classic qualifier stated, "This name came from 'I'm Sexy And I Know It'." If the bass are on crawdads, he puts down the shad shade and picks up the Cold Blooded Biggie - a red crawdad color crank. Monroe ties this on a Daiwa Ballistic 7'2" Medium Heavy rod with 12-lb Maxima Fluorocarbon on a Daiwa 6.3:1 reel.
Missile Baits D Bomb:
"The D Bomb - this is what I use for punchin' and flippin'," reported Monroe. "I can cover more water and fish faster with this." The D Bomb has been a mainstay for Monroe on the tour this year and has been credited in several of his season's outstanding finishes, including his wire-to-wire win at the Power-Pole Slam on Lake Okeechobee this March. The dark blue D Bomb "Bruiser Flash" was the championship color at Okeechobee; but he typically chooses Candy Grass with a Paycheck Baits Punch Skirt in the color Cash Money. "Pretty much, I always put a skirt on, it gives it the bigger profile," explained Monroe. "And, I usually start with a 1-1/2oz weight, but if I find I can go lighter, I will go down." He rigs the D Bomb with a River2Sea Trash Bomb tungsten weight on a 5/0 Paycheck Punch Hook with 70-lb Samurai Braid on an 8-ft Daiwa Flippin' Stick with a Zillion Type R 7.3:1 high speed reel. Describing how he employs this technique, Monroe suggested depths of 10-feet or less, finding the thickest mats left at this time of year and going straight to the heart of the mat with it. "Hit the ground hard and give it no more than two pops," he continued. "If they're going to eat, they're going to eat it."
River2Sea Bling Spinnerbait:
"I use this on grass, wood, rock, everything," he reported "It is the most versatile bait there is." Another personal design by the Elite angler, the River2Sea Bling Spinnerbait is Monroe's next choice for a fast moving bait. His top pick is White Powder with nickel blades. Adding that he likes the willow blades because of the increased flash they offer. Explaining what makes his Bling Spinnerbait stand apart from other spinnerbaits Monroe said, "It's the quality components - the welded eye, the hand-tied skirt, the blade material, which is virtually indestructible and the liquid armor paint that can take a beating. I makes long casts and return this with a steady retrieve, sometimes I will snap the rod to get the blades to flicker," said Monroe. The Bling gear is Monroe's usual Daiwa setup with the 6.3:1 with 15-lb Maxima mono for the stretch.
The River2Sea Rover rounds out Monroe's fave five fall baits. "This is a big, loud topwater bait," said Monroe. "It's just super, super loud and something I'm definitely going to pull out when I'm on the lakes. You've got to fish this all day long, but if you're going to target suspended fish on lakes without grass, it's going to get 'em." Putting the boat in 30- to 40-feet of water and calling up suspended bass from 15-feet is a favorite way for Monroe to put the Rover to use. He suggests fishing it on points, rock piles, bluff walls or any spots that he located fish on his HDS unit. He also recommends staying away from dirty water. Monroe chooses the shad or bone colored Rovers, "something with a little more transparency". He uses a 7'4" Daiwa Ballistic and a 6.3:1 reel with 50-lb Samurai brad to make long casts and a walkin' the dog retrieve. "I like to work it fast," stated Monroe. "Try it everywhere. You cannot eliminate anything, until you know it can be eliminated. The place you think won't work can be the place you catch your biggest fish." One last item that Monroe had to mention as a must-have in his boat was his Lithium Ion Smart Batteries. "Aside from them being so much lighter and increasing my speed by 3-mph, they just don't die," he reports. "In fact, I ran two days of a tournament on them without losing power after the hotel I was staying at lost power and we couldn't charge up during the night. There are just no issues with these. They are a definite must."
Fishin' Ish's Fall Favorites Fall, 2012 Bass Angler Magazine (Jody Only pg. 44 - 46)
Umbrella Rigging With Matt Newman
The event was something most anglers never even dream can be accomplished as Elias came to the scales on Day One with seven pounds more than anyone other angler. He bettered his feat on Day Two with a sack that was eight pounds more than any other limit weighed for the day. The field, the fans and the industry watched as he repeated a daily five fish limit at a MINIMUM of 23 pounds every day - with his best topping 29 pounds. Everyone waited to learn what was the secret behind the Elias 102 pound, 8 ounce conquest - as we know now, it was The Alabama Rig. That win landed the 1982 Bassmaster Classic champion as the face of The Alabama Rig and the rig - well that has become the center of a fishing industry frenzy. The umbrella style rig wasn't a new invention and some would say even old hat to saltwater anglers; but to the bass fishermen it was a revolution. The aesthetics were not what the bass anglers were used to and some might even say its similar appearance to the inner workings of an umbrella were off putting to the pros, although not to the bass.
The umbrella style rig features a single head with multiple wire arms that extend from the head. The opposite end of each of the arms holds a clip to attach a lure. The number of arms and rigidity of their movement varies. The weight of the head also fluctuates rig to rig. Able to run as heavy or light as one would like, an umbrella style rig can be fished in any water column and be rigged with any number or type of baits. The possibilities are endless as is the temptation to the bass, the interest of the anglers, the financial prospect to the lure and gear manufacturers and the controversy that ensues.
Umbrella Rig Lure Selection:
With the vast array of umbrella rigs currently on the market, which one to choose? According to Matt Newman, IROD creator and swimabit specialist, the Picasso School-E Rig is the best umbrella rig on the market. Fully handcrafted in the USA, the School-E Rig is constructed from only American-made components, Picasso offers the Finesse, the Jr., the Elementary School and the regular version of their rig. "It's the cleanest rig, I've found out there; it's got the swivel in the front and the strong arms," stated Newman. "The new Picasso heads that I've got with it are the Smart Mouths. They come in sizes all the way down to 1/16 ounce. With these, I can lighten up this rig and fish it slow in two feet of water. These are what we need for light-weight heads and large size hooks." The Finesse and the Jr. rigs are a collaboration of Bassmaster Elite Series pro Freddy "Boom Boom" Roumbanis and FLW Tour pro Brent Ehrler. The smallest in the lineup is the Finesse rig which puts 3 1/2 inch wire to use for an overall length of five inches and a weight of an 1/8 ounce and the ultimate in casting accuracy. The Jr. is also a slimmed down rendering of the original, with five inch wires, an overall length of 6 3/4 inches and a weight of 3/8 ounce. It also boasts ease of more accurate casting when needed around docks and other tighter quarters. Weighing in at less than 3/8 ounce, the Elementary School rig is over eight inches long with six inch wires and a central connection that does not feature the usual fish face. The School-E-Rig is also eight inches long and weighs 1/2 ounce. Weights are without baits attached.
Umbrella Rig Tips & Gear:
If you have to fish dummy baits because it's illegal to fish five hooks on in your state, keep the dummies on top. We've found the majority of fish are going to hit on the bottom ones - maybe one in 40 strikes come on the top baits. To keep them on top, put a lighter head on the top arms. For example in shallower water, I have on three 1/16 ounce Smart Mouth heads on my bottom three arms and then to keep my top two as dummies and my rig legal, I attach regular 4/0 worm hooks and thread my baits on, then snip off the top of the hook so there was no hook left. Keeping the top two dummies lighter and on shorter arms will keep the middle longer arm with a hook in the strike zone, which is important for more hook-ups. Always super glue all of your baits to the heads, cover the hook in glue, even your dummies when threading them on to the worm hooks, before snipping of the hook. Super glue is the key to saving yourself from a ton of problems. Try to stick to 65-lb braid. You don't want to lose your rig. There is a lot of time and money in your rig. The Genesis II iRod 7'10 Bama Rig Special was designed to cast umbrella rigs of any weight and a tip to roll cast. This Genesis II series is 30 percent lighter than before, a key to throwing an umbrella rig all day.
Diggin' Umbrella Riggin' Fall, 2012 Bass Angler Magazine (Jody Only pg. 16 - 19)
Cranking Basics For Late Summer & Fall
During the peak of the summer heat, Snowden vacates deep ledges and river channels and begins to target isolated flats where bass are chasing large schools of baitfish. Often located at the mouth of a river, Snowden will follow the flat until it begins to bottleneck. "The hotter it gets, the further back into a river I like to go - but only until the river really narrows down," he explains. "This time of the year, a shallow running crankbait in these areas will outproduce a spinnerbait. I know anglers who have won a lot of money fishing crankbaits in less than 5 feet of water this time of year," he says. "I really believe in the technique." Snowden's fall crankbait pattern begins once the water reaches the mid to low 70's. Early in the fall, he will still target the same shallow, isolated flats he did in late summer, but, in addition, he will follow them "all the way back to where the creek or river makes its first major swing." During the early fall bite, bottom composition becomes increasingly important for Snowden. "As the water cools, bass start looking for subtle changes in bottom contour," he explains. "It seems that shad this time of the year are moving away from the shallower clay flats onto gravel bottom flats farther up the creek and the bass are following them out."
Snowden says that in mid to late summer, the bass are aggressive and willing to chase down a meal in the shallows. Targeting flats in 1 to 5 feet of water, Snowden will begin fancasting a shallow diving crankbait like a Cotton Cordell Big "O," searching for schools of baitfish. The Big "O" not only moves a great amount of water but also provides a large profile for the bass to key on. When targeting these bass, Snowden fishes a 1/2-ounce Cordell Spot or a Bomber 6A crankbait. The Missouri pro also focuses on making casts around schools or balls of baitfish. When bass are holding in that 4- to 8-foot range, Snowden prefers a gold or silver Cordell Spot depending on water clarity - gold when it's sunny or the water is clear, and silver in stained water or under cloudy conditions.
Cranking Basics For Later Summer And Fall August 22, 2012 Bassmaster.com (Brent Conway)
Cranking Bass In Heavy Cover
"Some crankbaits hang up more than others," said David Fritts, a former Bassmaster Classic champion from Lexington, N.C. "The key to catching fish on a crankbait in heavy cover is learning when the bait is coming into cover and being able to adjust the speed of the bait to get around that cover." Thick weeds create the most imposing obstacle to fishing crankbaits -- and the dominant cover in many bass honeyholes. Crankbaits can't run through thickly matted vegetation or a raft of water hyacinths. Even here, though, crankbaits can entice bass in narrow pockets and channels. "People are amazed at how weedless crankbaits really are when fished properly," said Alton Jones, winner of the 2008 Bassmaster Classic. "People get into trouble when they reel too fast or jerk a bait as it hits hit cover. I throw as close to cover as possible and fish very slowly to feel the lip hit the cover. Pause a second to let the lure float up. Walk it through cover by moving the bait with the rod instead of the reel."
Location & Presentation:
Many weeds grow just beneath the surface. With practice, anglers might work the water between submerged weeds and the surface. Let a crankbait dance over the weed tops, just ticking down enough to make contact to draw lunkers from the salad. "When fishing around weeds or grass, fish a bait that tilts a lot," Fritts said. "Try to barely touch the grass by controlling the depth of the bait. Hold the rod up and use bigger line. Bigger line doesn't cut through water as well, so it stays higher. Once while fishing heavy grass, I changed from 10-pound to 14-pound line and held my rod high. I moved the bait two feet higher with the line and two feet with the rod." Wood comprises another dominant cover and a major obstacle to crankbaiting. Standing timber, fallen trees, old logs, brush piles and stumps require slightly different tactics to probe ambush points. With long lips partially protecting dangling hooks, most crankbaits move surprisingly well through woody cover. "In brush, logs or other visible cover, I choose a crankbait with a really wide wobble so bass can feel it coming," Jones said. "Sometimes they hide under logs and feel the lure vibrating. When they do, bass come out to investigate. Often bass in shallow water want a big crankbait. I might take a crankbait that dives 12 feet deep and fish it on 30-pound line in five feet of water." Around sunken logs or brush piles, pick the way through snags very carefully. Allow crankbait lips to bump into logs or branches, bouncing the lure backward. That reverberation alerts bass to look in that direction. Pause the retrieve after hitting an object, allowing the lure to rise over the snag. Sometimes, bass can't resist a crankbait if it looks like a shad or bream that smashed into a log and stunned itself.
"In heavy cover, use baits with a lot of float, not suspending baits," Fritts said. "One of my favorite baits is a No. 9 Risto Rap. It's a wooden bait with good floating properties. In woody cover or around rocks, a Wiggle Wart is pretty effective because it is really erratic with a wide action. The nose hangs down and it slips through cover pretty well." Similar to woody structure, rock or concrete riprap provides shady nooks that attract bass, usually with good access to both deep and shallow water. Just like around wood, crank lures fast until they hit something and them work them slowly. Allow them to ping and pause off rocks and probe every cranny. A slight hesitation may provide too much temptation for a bucketmouth to refuse.
Finding Cranky Bass In Thick Cover Fall, 2012 Bass Angler Magazine (John N. Felsher)
Cranking Through Fall
Find The Bait:
First and foremost in the Fall, you have to find the baitfish, stressed Lowen, a top-ranked pro from Indiana. In the Fall there's always a major shad migration into the backs of the pockets and side creeks in both lakes and rivers. Not an isolated situation, this happens all over the country on whatever body of water shad may inhabit. Their autumn migration is so pervasive that if Lowen doesn't spot schools of shad, he won't fish that area. He knows the presence of bait is such a big key to cranking this time of year. Lowen looks for the shad to be stacked in little bays and inlets off the main lake or river, back in creek arms and similar places. "Once the baitfish are found, you're going to want to concentrate on whatever cover is cloesest to deep water, such as a creek or ditch that may be running through a pocket," Lowen said.
Lowen favors shallow crankbaits, like the Ima Squarebill, which can be crashed through cover to get aggressive bass to pounce. He may choose realistic, flashy baitfish colors if the water has good clarity to it. If the water has any stain at all, he leans more toward those with dark backs and chartreuse sides. If the water's extremely dirty, he'll toss an all-black crankbait. "Not many people throw one, but a solid black crankbait is like throwing a black/blue jig, except you can cover more wate with it," he said. As the water cools in late Fall, Lowen transitions to a flat-sided crankbait with a tighter wiggle, such as the Ima Shaker, and he fishes it a lot slower. Instead of crashing it into limbs, as he does with the squarebill, "you're just pulling and easing it through the cover, taking your time with it, when the water gets colder," instructed Lowen.
Lane, of Alabama, reaffirms Lowen's premise that the big key this time of year is finding concentrations of baitfish, namely shad. There's almost always an incoming river arm in just about any type of lake, often on the opposite end of the lake from the dam. Lane likes to go up the river or lake until the landscape transforms into a narrow, winding, riverine section. He journeys beyond the transition point where there's no longer a lake environment, to a typical river channel extending from one side to the other. He seeks a place where the river channel brushes against the bank, swings across and touches the other side. "You'll have a deep channel swing on one side and a flat expanse on the other side. Most of those flat banks will either be gravel or sand combined with shallow stumps, laydowns, washed down trees, current tangles or some other type of wood cover," Lane explained. "If there are shad in the body of water, and you've reached the proper area of the river environment, there will be shad on those flat banks - it's almost automatic," he declared. The only reason shad might be hard to find in those spots, he cautioned, is if it's still too early in the year.
Lane favors crankbaits, like the Spro Fat Papa 55 or Spro Fat John Squarebill, that get down several feet to deflect off scattered stumps, laydowns and other wood cover on the flats. Use monofilament line in this pattern, he advised. It minimizes hanging up. Mono tends to pull crankbaits over, instead of into the wood. He uses 12 to 15 or even 20 pound Sunline monofilament with an Abu Garcia Revo Winch 5:1 reel on a Carrot Stix 7' Wild medium action cranking stick.
Hunt The Grass:
Lane loves cranking in grass lakes in autumn too. While everyone else is flipping mats and throwing frogs, jigs and plastics around vegetation, Lane takes a different approach. Instead of going upriver, he looks for big grass flats in the middle or lower reaches of the lake. He tries to find where the hydrilla or milfoil beds taper off and stop growing, preferably where the grass tops out at 5 or 6 feet below the surface on average.
The same crankbaits serve for cranking over grassbeds. Using the same rod and line, he switches to an Abu Garcia Revo Premier 6.4:1 high speed reel. Again he favors monofilament because it floats and drags a crankbait up and ocer the grass instead of plowing into it. Lane holds his rod tip high while reeling, letting his bait wobble and runs its natural course. All the while, he's "hunting" the grass.
Cranking Through Fall September, 2012 Bass Times (Russ Bassdozer pg. 6 - 7)
Fall Post Frontal Conditions With Randall Tharp
Since his strength is fishing shallow, Tharp will stick with his strength when a fall cold front occurs. "As the water starts to cool, a lot of the bait likes to get shallow and the bass like to follow them," says Tharp, who usually finds reservoir fish in the backs of creeks and major tributaries. "Regardless of a front coming through, that's not going to change where I'm fishing." Post-frontal conditions will cause Tharp to alter his tactics and presentations since he knows bass become moody. "The fish will bury down tighter to cover and won't be chasing bait as much," he says. "If you were on a reaction-type bite with a crankbait or spinnerbait, you might have to flip or just fish really slow." Finding shallow cover becomes the key to catching bass after a fall cold front. "If I'm on a body of water full of grass, then that's what I'm going to key on because that's one of my strengths," says Tharp. "But if I'm on Lake Norman or some other place that's full of boat docks or on a lake with wood cover that's shallow in the back of a creek, that's what I'm going to key on."
Tharp's favorite lure for fishing after a fall front is a 1/2-ounce flipping jig (black or brown) tipped with a Zoom Big Salty Chunk or Super Chunk (black/blue flake, blue sapphire or green pumpkin). The Alabama pro pitches his jig-and-chunk to shallow targets and saturates each piece of cover with multiple presentations. "If the fish are really lethargic, I'll let the jig sit there and shake it a couple of times and maybe hop it a couple of times," says Tharp. In late fall, Tharp sometimes lets his jig sit in one spot for 10 to 15 seconds.
Tackling post-frontal bass fishing conditions October 15, 2012 Bassmaster.com (John Neporadny Jr.)
Pro's Pointers On Fall Bass
Ott DeFoe took the Bassmaster Elite Series by storm in 2011. He not only captured Rookie of the Year honors, he picked up his first top tour level win at the Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship on the Alabama River in Montgomery and qualified for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic where he bagged a fifth place finish. For DeFoe, fall means walking a topwater plug on the surface to draw strikes from hungry largemouth.
Lure Selection & Gear:
"When it comes to fall fishing topwater is the first thing that comes to my mind," DeFoe says. "I love throwing topwater in the fall when these bass are schooling and feeding heavily. Finding schools of bait is the key to getting the bass to bite topwater. Sometimes the bass will be chasing and busting the surface and sometimes not, but if there is baitfish present, a surface lure will usually catch them in the fall." The bait of choice for the Knoxville, TN native is a size 11 Rapala X-Rap Walk. He throws this on a 6-feet, 6-inch medium action CarbonLite rod topped with a Revo MGX baitcasting reel with a 7.1:1 gear ratio, and spooled with 20-pound-test braided line. If he is fishing in clear water, he will attach a 3 to 4 foot leader of 17-pound-test monofilament line to avoid spooking fish but the braided line is critical for DeFoe."Using braid is a really simple choice for me in this situation," he explains. "You can sling that bait really far and the braid helps you work the bait easier and when you get a bite on the end of a long cast, it will help you on the hook set."
DeFoe likes to target major, shallow flats, preferably with isolated cover such as a rare stump or brush pile, preferring the isolated cover over stump-filled flats. He will focus on flats from 8 feet deep and as shallow as 3 feet. He will fish the topwater plug all fall until the water temperature drops down to 50 degrees but it is best when the temperature reaches 58- to 60-degrees.
For five-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier Mark Menendez, nothing beats a spinnerbait fished at warp speed to draw vicious strikes from hungry bass. "Make no mistake about it, topwater fishing is fun, but burning a spinnerbait in the fall is absolutely the most wicked bite of any strike in my opinion. It is just awesome," Menendez says.
Lure Selection & Gear:
He has a precise tackle system he uses for this method. He employs a 7-foot medium action Lew's Tournament SL rod topped with a Lew's Tournament Pro baitcasting reel with a 7.1:1 gear ratio, and spooled with 20-pound-test monofilament line. His lure of choice is a Strike King Burner spinnerbait which has narrow, thin blades that put out a lot of flash. He prefers natural colors when the primary target is largemouth and bolder colors if targeting smallmouth or spotted bass. He uses painted blades that match the colors of the lure's skirt. He also adds a trailer hook because he is moving the bait at a high rate of speed and this often causes short strikes. He burns the bait in areas where fish are resting, while journeying to shallower fall haunts.
"The kinds of places I like to burn a spinnerbait are what I call 'contact points'," says Menendez. "These are place fish will stop as they are traveling through. The down current side of a point, subtle drops on flats, anything that a bass can stop on and use as an ambush area is ideal. It could be a place with a stump or small piece of brush. Anywhere that a spinnerbait can come by at Mach speed and trigger a fish to bite is an ideal area to burn a spinnerbait."
For Pierre Part, Louisiana's Cliff Crochet, a surface plug is his go to fall bassin' lure and the 2010 Bassmaster Classic qualifier favors a Yellow Magic, a Japanese made topwater bait, and it has been effective for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic qualifier.
Lure Selection & Gear:
Crochet throws the Yellow Magic in shallow water in the backs of pockets and around the secondary points. He will fish this on a 7-foot Falcon no. 4 medium action rod topped with an Ardent XS 1000 reel wound with 12-pound-test monofilament. He prefers a slow, steady retrieving motion on the surface lure. He says fishing the bait slow and steady, combined with the smaller profile and the distinct sound, makes this lure more effective for him. "It really has a distinct sound compared to other topwater baits," Crochet explains. "I think it is something they are not conditioned to seeing and hearing, and it draws strikes where other lures might not. When you give it a slow, steady cadence, it really gets the fish's attention and they come to check it out."
For 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year Bradley Roy, fall also means fish are on the move and actively feeding.
Lure Selection & Gear:
According to Roy, when you find woody areas you will find the shad moving around in schools, and the bass will lie next to cover and ambush those schools of bait as they pass through. The bass normally opt to let the shad come to them. His lure of choice in this situation is a Berkley Powerbait Jerk Shad. His prefers a 7-foot, medium-heavy Abu Garcia Veritas rod topped with a 7.1:1 Abu Garcia Revo reel. He fishes the soft plastic jerkbait on 15-pound test Berkley 100% fluorocarbon line, using a 4/0 extra-wide gap hook. The fluorocarbon is crucial because it allows the bait to sink quicker.
Location & Presentation:
"Once the water temperature gets below 70 degrees the fish are moving," the Lancaster, KY native says. "The shad migrate to the backs of the creeks and the bass follow. I like to look for the last few channel swings. The channel doesn't really have to hold that much water. Look on the flats near the channel for wood cover or rock. The rock can hold fish, but I have found that wood usually holds more fish. Look for stumps, laydowns, any type of wood sticking out of the water." Another key for Roy is to stay back from the cover and make long cast because he believes the fish are a little spookier in the fall. He cast the Jerk Shad beyond the piece of cover he is targeting and works it beside or over top of the cover. "I like to use a fast retrieve to create a frightened shad effect," Roy explains. "When it comes over the side or top I like to stop the retrieve and let it sink. This gives the impression of a dying shad and triggers a lot of bites. That is also why I use the faster gear ratio on my reel. You will have some slack in the line when you pause and the faster reel allows you to take up the slack quicker."
Attack Fall Bass Like A Pro Fall, 2012 Bass Angler Magazine (Tim Tipton pg. 90 - 92)
Searching for Autumn Smallmouth High & Low
For tournament pro and Kentucky Lake guide Scott Patton, finding areas on lowland reservoirs where the bank has washed down to rock and gravel is a key to locating smallmouth on these types of lakes. "The first thing I am going to look for are main lake points and secondary points in the mouths of the larger creeks, especially when I can find pea gravel," says Patton. "On a lowland, river-run reservoir like Kentucky Lake there are a lot of gravel bars and a lot of areas where the bank has washed down to gravel over the years. These are the types of areas where you are going to find your smallmouth most of the time."
Lure Selection & Presentation:
Patton believes firmly in a quality topwater bite in the fall under the right conditions. His go-to topwater bait is a Rebel Pop-R and he varies the retrieve until he figures out what the fish are wanting. He favors a seven-foot, six-inch fiberglass rod for his topwater fishing. He tops this with a 7.1:1 high speed reel spooled with 14-pound-test monofilament. Patton will also throw a buzzbait, something that many anglers shy away from when targeting bronzebacks. He fishes it on the same tackle set-up that he uses for the Pop-R, with the exception of his line, which he increases up to 17- or 20-pound-test. He says anglers need to open their mind to the opportunities this bait presents. "I started throwing a buzzbait for smallmouth because I kept catching them on it while fishing for largemouth all over the country," says Patton. "We have always been taught that a buzzbait is a largemouth lure, but it really catches smallmouth as well. It is actually more of a mindset that anglers have, but if you try a buzzbait, the smallmouth will eat it as well as largemouth will."
If Patton is seeing bait near the surface, but can't get bit on the topwater baits, he will burn a spinnerbait in these areas. When burning a spinnerbait you are downsizing the bait and using a faster retrieve speed to get the fish to react. When burning a spinnerbait Patton will stick with the glass rod and the same high speed reel, and he will fish the lure, either a 1/2 or 5/8 ounce bait, on 14-pound-test monofilament and he always adds a trailer hook. One other tactic that Patton employs during the fall is a drop shot rig. His drop shot rig consists of a 1/2 ounce sinker, eight-pound-test fluorocarbon line on a seven-foot medium action spinning rod and reel combo. He chooses between to different baits, either a Zoom Super Fluke in a shad color, or a five-inch Zoom Finesse Worm in a Morning Dawn or California 420 color.
For Dale Hollow guide Bobby Gentry, fall means dropping water levels and vegetation. As the water levels drop, the vegetation becomes shallower and this typically moves smallmouth to the edge of the grass line. Gentry likes to locate channel bends near the edge of flats. These flats will typically be holding grass. Another area he searches are main lake points and secondary points in the creeks. He wants these points to gradually slope to the channel."The shad have moved back into the creeks and the bass are going to follow" Gentry says. "I look for areas where the bass can hide and feed on the shad. The fish are going to be shallower and I like to go back in some of the creek arms and find a long, narrow point that has grass next to it. If you find points with a mixture of gravel and clay they will usually have bass nearby. These are my go-to areas in the fall." Fishing points is significant to bass angling success most of the year, and it is especially important for Gentry in the fall. "I like the long, sloping points," he explains. "These fish are often hanging right at the end of the point near the deeper water. This gives them some safety while the water is being pulled down. They will sometimes move up shallow near the bank to feed, but most of the time your better quality fish are going to be out near that deeper water."
Lure Selection & Presentation:
For Gentry, cooling water temperatures and the overcast days that often accompany autumn means topwater action. Two of his more popular topwater baits are a Spro Grass Frog and a Rebel Pop-R. He is especially fond of the Pop-R because of its ability to draw strikes consistently during the autumn months. "It's hard to beat the Pop-R on any body of water in the fall," he observes. "There are other topwater baits that are effective at times. A Zara Spook or a Devil's Horse will both catch fish at times and a buzzbait will work under the right conditions, but there is something about that Pop-R that these fish just can't resist on a day-to-day basis." Gentry fishes all of his topwater baits on an All-Pro Rods seven-foot, heavy-action baitcasting rod, topped with a Lew's reel in 7.1:1 gear ratio, and spooled with 12-to 14-pound-test monofilament line. This set-up gives him the ability to get a fish out of the heavy vegetation quickly.
He casts toward his target, allows the bait to settle on the water and slowly takes up slack. Once the line is tight he gives the bait a brisk pop followed by a couple of light twitches. He then pauses for approximately 10 to 15 seconds before repeating the movement. At other times he will keep the bait moving across the surface in a faster retrieve with fewer pauses. Vary your retrieve until you find what the fish prefer. "I like to have a topwater presentation available all day," Gentry says. "Sometimes it is only effective in the early mornings to midday, but if it is an overcast day it can be effective all day long. In the fall, I am going to keep a topwater bait or two rigged up and available. "While topwater action maybe the most exciting fall bite, it is not always the most productive.
For Gentry, a jig is an important fall smallmouth bait. He primarily sticks with two styles of jig, both made by nearby Punisher Lures. Often he opts for a Punisher Hair Jig because the natural hair tends to entice smallmouths to bite aggressively. Other times he will choose a football head. He has had much of his recent success with a football head that less resembles a jig, but is more versatile, the Hail Mary by Punisher. The Hail Mary is a spinoff of an ordinary football head and the Biffle Bug. What sets it apart is the lure is simply the head itself, with a split ring attached and the angler can attach whatever hook size he wants, which enables him to choose between a variety of plastics. One other lure that is a mainstay on one of his rods is a crankbait, namely a Bandit 200 Series in a shad pattern. He fishes it on 10-pound-test monofilament because he likes to have some stretch in his line. The key, regardless of the lure for Gentry, is to experiment not only with different baits, but also with different retrieves.
Searching for Autumn Smallmouth High & Low Fall, 2012 Bass Angler Magazine (Tim Tipton pg. 76 - 78)
Targeting Early Fall Bass With David Walker
"The shad are the common denominator," he says. "There are several other variables that come into play this time of year, but you can always rely on the old saying, 'Find the shad, find the bass.' In early fall, this is the main thing to key on. Where shad are the primary forage, bass will be hanging close to these baitfish, and anglers should do likewise to find and catch the former." Still, Walker, from Sevierville, Tenn., concedes that September and October are two tough months for bass fishing. This is a time of transition. The big summer schools of bass are breaking up. Now these fish are scattered from deep water to shallow. Cover a lot of water. Be persistent, and fight off mental lapses. This is what it takes to continue boating bass while other anglers are scratching their heads and wondering where the fish have gone. "When those first few cool nights hit, I'll change to shallow water fishing. I'll leave the channels and deep structure areas, and I'll start working the coves. There are usually enough bass there to consistently catch some back in these shallows.
"Also, shad become my number one focus," he continues. "They are what keys me to stay put and work out an area or to move on. If I don't see baitfish flicking on the surface or swirling in the shallows, I won't stick around. I'll go to the next cove and check it out. It's amazing how one creek arm can be totally dead, and the next one will be alive with bait and predator fish feeding on the minnows. So you just have to keep looking until you find the food chain. "Then, when you do, you have to slow down and cover a lot of water and cast to a lot of targets. You just have to hammer those bites out, one here and one there. You have to realize you're not going to get many bites, and you're probably not going to catch two bass in the same place. Instead, the goal is to pick up a loner off a log or a brushpile and then move on to the next place." Walker's typical day in early fall starts by running to "flat water" in the back of a creek. He prospects for a channel with even the slightest depth change. Sometimes as he idles in, he churns up mud in water only a couple of feet deep. "This is where I watch for shad, and if I see some, then I start looking around for cover objects where bass may be hiding. If there's any object with a foot or more of water around it, I'm going to cast to it. Some of the least significant places will hold a fish this time of year." Walker hits stumps, logs, treetops, rocks, brushpiles, stake beds, boat dock pilings, pole timber, marinas, pontoon boats pulled up on the bank, old tires, etc. "I don't rule anything out," he stresses.
In doing so, he uses a small menu of shallow water baits, all in shad colors. "I'll cast spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, topwater prop baits, swimming jigs and lipless crankbaits," he continues. "I'll have all these baits rigged on different rods and ready to go on my boat's deck. Then if I want to fish a particular spot with a specific presentation, I'm ready to do this." Walker casts a spinnerbait, buzzbait or swimming jig tight to solitary objects: a stump, stickup, rock, etc. He also uses these same lures around horizontal cover: a log, treetop, etc.
Walker is a stickler for making multiple casts to one piece of cover. "I keep my boat a fair distance from the target, and I'll circle it and cast to it several times. I'll hit it from all sides and angles. A lot of times a fish will ignore the first few casts, but finally it'll get irritated, or I'll put the bait right on its nose, and it'll strike it. Whichever, this is one pattern where repeat casts really pay off." Walker will also hit a choice target with multiple baits. "I'm very thorough with the good spots. Sometimes I'll work them with the full menu. They may pass up the spinnerbait and the buzzbait, but then they'll crush the swimming jig. Fishing several baits on the same spot is a good way to figure out which bait will be most effective that day." While the lures above are Walker's choices for "fishing tight," he says the lipless crankbait is his "search lure." He explains, "This is my go-to bait for casting along channels and over flats where shad are working but no visible cover is in view." Specifically, he uses a LiveTarget lipless rattlebait in golden shiner color. Under normal conditions he casts a 1/2 ounce size, but if the shad are small and/or the water is ultrashallow, he opts for a 1/4 ounce size.
Hunt And Peck For Early Fall Bass September/October 2012 Bassmaster (Wade L. Bourne pg. 60 - 63)
Terry Scroggins Fall Lure Selection
XCalibur Zell Pop:
Scroggins says that he always has one of these poppers rigged up in case the fish start schooling on the surface. "There's a lot of schooling activity in the fall, and this is one of the best ways to catch 'em on top," he said. "The fish move in and out with the shad, so they're always near the bait and this is a good baitfish imitator." Scroggins advises anglers stick to shad colors.
"I like this to cover lots of water, mainly by making long casts down the channel of creeks and pockets," he says. "This is a really easy way to catch those suspended fish as you're moving in and out of a lot of different areas, which you'd be wise to do." He uses a stop-and-go retrieve with a foxy shad model.
Scroggins says that a jig is the most versatile bait this time of year. He keeps weights ranging from 3/8 ounce to a full ounce on deck, depending on where he is in the country. When in the shallow pockets and creeks, he pitches a 3/8-ounce model with a Yum Money Craw to visible cover, and when punching through thick vegetation, he bombs a 1-ounce model with the same trailer. In clear water, he likes brown or green pumpkin, and in stained water, he goes for black-and-blue.
"This is, without a doubt, the best way to catch bass in the fall; nothing competes with it," Scroggins says. "I like either 1/2- or 1/4-ounce jigheads with Yum Money Minnows, or the lighter jigheads and grubs. Sometimes it doesn't matter what's on there, they just hammer it." Scroggins uses this around deep structure, such as bridge pilings or grasslines. He also throws it in the deeper channels of pockets and creeks.
What Terry Scroggins Throws In The Early Fall September/October 2012 Bassmaster (David Hunter Jones pg. 24)
Burning The Flats With Kevin VanDam
"Because temperatures are cooling, the bait moves shallower, so the smallmouth follow them. I try to find where the wind is pushing up against some kind of depth change on the flat, whether it is the edge of the break or on top of it," VanDam explains. He also looks for any irregularities along the flat, such as scattered vegetation, wood or rockpiles in 5 to 12 feet of water.
Lure Selection & Presentation:
VanDam throws a 1/2oz Strike King KVD Scorcher Spinnerbait to cover water quickly. He opts for a chartreuse and white and silver and gold blades. "it is important to have good polarized glasses so you can find dropoffs or other irregularities, like rocks, wood and anything darker ot lighter than its surroundings," said VanDam. He keeps his boat positioned along the deeper outside edge of the flat and makes long casts to any targets he finds along the structure. Once the baits hits the water, VanDam keeps his rod tip high so it will stay close to the surface. As he winds in the lure, he continues to drop his rod tip to keep his blade bait riding just below the surface. He always makes his retreive erratic, starting and stopping constantly. "I will burn it, kill it, burn it, stop it, start it and jerk it a lot." If he sees smallmouth just following or bumping his spinnerbait, VanDam switches to a Strike King Red Eye Shad lipless crankbait to trigger strikes. He varies his retreive, even yo-yoing if off the bottom if necessary.
Burning The Flats September, 2012 Bass Times (John Neporadny Jr. pg. 15)
Crankbait Or Spinnerbait In The Fall With Edwin Evers
"During fall in Oklahoma, I'm usually targeting shallow water in the backs of pockets and creeks with stained or dirty water.
Lure Selection & Presentation:
"A square-billed crankbait, like a Bomber BB5, is an awesome bait because it's so erratic. I can burn the bait down a log and it will hit the wood and deflect off to the side and trigger a bite." If he is able to generate some strikes on a crankbait, Evers will experiment with different sizes to find the best possible option. Often, he'll increase the size of the offering to entice a bigger bite and match the prevalent forage. "I like a bigger bait in the fall because the shad have had all year to feed," says Evers. Recently, Evers has had success throwing XCalibur's new Xcs300 Square Lip crankbait, which is 3 inches in length and creates a bulky profile in the shallow water.
While Evers favors a crankbait in the fall, he points out that there are times when a spinnerbait is the most productive option. "At times, the fish want something that's a little more subtle and moving slowly through the area," he says. "That's when I'll go with a big spinnerbait and reel it down a log or past a stump. Evers uses speed and deflection to generate strikes with a crankbait in the fall but takes the opposite approach when slinging a spinnerbait. "I'll use a slower gear ratio reel for my spinnerbaits," he says. "It helps me slow the bait down and let the big blade thump. My goal isn't to burn the bait back to the boat - I want a slow, throbbing action." When it comes to spinnerbait blades, Evers favors a large No. 7 willow leaf. The size of the blade mimics the larger baitfish and also allows for a slow and steady retrieve.
Crankbait Or Spinnerbait In The Fall Bassmaster.com September 3, 2012 (Matt Pangrac)
Fishing Grass With Chris Lane
Location & Approach:
When I approach a grassbed, I break it down into specific parts. The first thing I do is note what kind of grass it is. That helps me analyze why the fish are there and what the fish might be doing. That requires experience. There are no shortcuts. You have to study the various types of grass that grow in your waters, and you have to spend time out there fishing. I start my search at the corners, move along the edges and finally throw into the center of the bed. Then I'll start fishing turns, points and holes. While I'm doing that I'll pay attention to exactly where those things are. For instance , are those places upstream or downstream from the current? Are they on the outside edge, in the center, or on the backside? And what about the shade, the wind, the boat traffic or anything else that might make a difference? When I've caught all the bass I think I can from that bed, I'll move along to another one that's as close in features to the first one as I can find. But, I'll fish it differently. I'll only fish those types of areas that produced at the first weedbed.
If you see baitfish in grass, and you almost always will, fish it. Grass provides the baitfish with cover and food. It does exactly the same thing for bass. Don't just look at the baitfish, though. Pay attention to where they're at and what they're doing. That'll give you a clue as to where to start fishing and whether to toss a frog or a Texas rigged plastic. Think about grass like you would any other structure or cover. What I mean when I say that is, bass won't be everywhere. You should target specific areas, spots or formations. Think about this like you would think about a creek channel. Once you develop a pattern, you don't fish every inch of the channel. You pick bends, stumps, shellbeds, rock or somewhere that's different - somewhere that's like where you caught them before - and then you target it over and over as you work your way around the lake. Grass is no different.
Grass fishing is about the grass, not your tackle. You don't need a lot of fancy or expensive tackle to fish a weedbed. That's one of the really nice things about it. You can be successful on a tight budget. Use a rod, reel and line combo that's heavy enough to handle bass and whatever's in your lake or river. Rig three baits on them, and you can fish anywhere. First, you'll need two or three Snag Proof Guntersville Frogs in whatever colors you have confidence in. It's the best grass frog ever made. You'll use your frog when the grass is too thick to punch through and when the bass are holding up, high on the grass. Second, you'll need a few packs of Luck "E" Strike Fast Lane Tubes. Again, go with a color you think they'll bite. Usually, you'll throw your Fast Lane Tube with a lighter weight into cattails, willow weed, thin or scattered grass and any other place a light weight is appropriate. Finally, grab a handful of Gambler BB Crickets. This one gets Texas rigged with a heavier weight. It's perfect for thick, dense vegetation and mats when you need to get under them with something. If you're not catching them in the grass with one of these three combinations, it's not your lure that's the problem. You need to look at something else.
5 Grass Techniques You Must Know September/October 2012 Bassmaster (By Chris Lane as told to Ed Harp pg. 38 - 39)
Thinking Shallow For Fall Big Bass
When fishing skinny water, as I like to call it, some key things to look for are depth changes, isolated cover and current. Even subtle changes can attract bass like when a bank goes from two feet to 2 1/2 feet, chances are that slight depth change is going to attract a bass. Depth changes can sometimes be shown by vegetation or weed edges in the water. Slight ripples on the water are also a sign that there is a bottom change present. An isolated piece of cover such as a lay down or a small group of lily pads is a perfect place for bass to feed. In the fall, when you find fish on an isolated piece of cover, chances are that you are going to catch a number of bass there, because they will all be holding that one piece of cover. In a tournament a few years ago, I found a submerged tree on a mud bank in less than two feet of water where I caught four nice bass in 15 minutes. I filled my limit on that tree and went on to have a great tournament. Being that the Mississippi River is my home body of water, much of my fishing revolves around current. So when I'm fishing shallow water, I always am reading the water to see what the current is doing. It may be going in the opposite direction, or all of a sudden there maybe current, when there previously hadn't been any. Current is not just present on river systems either. When fishing a lake the depending on the wind direction and speed, sometimes this will create current, which will turn the bass on and position them to feed.
Lure Selection & Gear:
Some of my favorite methods for locating shallow water bass include both reaction baits and slower presentations. When I'm on search mode, two lures that I rely on to target isolated cover are a shallow diving crankbait and an RC Swim Jig. I'm sure most of you just cringed when I said crankbait in the same sentence as cover and shallow water. Some of my favorite shallow crankbaits that I'll bounce off of shallow water cover include Spro's Fat John, Rapala's DT Fats and Strike King's 1.5. Now, I'm not saying that I don't get snagged or lose a lure, but the benefits of throwing a bait like this in shallow water are high. A bass will chase down a crankbait from a distance based on two things. One, it resembles food, whether that is a crawfish or a shad and second it catches their attention because it's bouncing off the bottom and the cover. When I am fishing crankbaits, I switch out the hooks to Trokar Wide Gap Treble Hooks. My equipment for shallow cranking is the Wright & McGill S-Glass Crankin' Rod and the Victory baitcast reel spooled with 14 to 20lb Seaguar TATSU. For me this is the perfect set up giving me the confidence that I can land whatever bites.
Another presentation that works well to cover a lot of water quickly and also can be put into areas where there is very little water is swimming a jig. A 1/4 ounce RC Swim Jig is perfect when there is vegetation present. You can change your retrieve up depending on what kind of mood the bass are in. If they are chasing shad or bluegills, then you'll want to be swimming it with some twitching and if the bass are more sluggish and feeding on crayfish, then letting your jig sink and bouncing it can entice those bass into biting. Once you have pinpointed the bass, flip soft plastic tubes and creature baits. The water clarity plays a huge roll in what color bait you should throw, as does confidence in that bait. For me a green pumpkin tube rigged on a Trokar Tube hook and a 1/4 ounce Lazer tungsten weight is my go-to lure. It is important though to change things up, if you go down a bank once with a tube, don't be afraid to fish it again with a creature bait, such as a beaver.
Thinking Shallow For Big Bass Fall, 2012 Bass Angler Magazine (Glenn Walker pg. 89)