Fall is slowing creeping in….
For many of us fisherman, Fall waves the warning flag that soon it’s time to winterize the boat, break out that old boat cover, and wait till the daffodils pop up next spring.
Some among us have even traded in their flipping rod for a bow – and won’t lip a fish till next spring. For the rest of us – TIME TO HEAD OUT AND PUT A HURTIN’ ON EM’!
Yes – FALL BASS FISHING is arguably THE best time of year to crush the little green-back zombies!!! Bass sit and wait as the Shad make their last run up the creeks – and I’m talking shad schools that make Ohio State’s student-roster look squeamish. THOUSANDS of these wonderful baitfish head from the main lake up the creeks for one last binge. Speaking of binge – the largemouth pick their ambush spots and wait for the buffet-feeding-line to pass by. Meal ticket time. It’s their last chance to fatten up and prepare for the long winter abyss…
And your bait can easily get on the menu…..
Let’s take a closer look at these crank baits and the best way to utilize them this fall to put fish in your net. Often times when the water temperature approaches 50 degrees the Rat-L-Traps and Red Eye Shads, to name a couple, should be part of your arsenal. When choosing these baits, size and color must be considered to help ensure your success. I see many of our customers choosing the ¼ ounce size, which is my humble opinion, a mistake for this time of year. In our local waters many of the shad that are alive are typically larger than the ¼ ounce profile and these are the shad that the fish are feeding on. Going with a ½ ounce or bigger would be a better first choice to “match the hatch”, as these shad have grown larger over the course of the year. You will also find that using the larger profile crank baits will typically yield better quality fish than their smaller counterparts. However, if you are simply in for the “numbers” game and not necessarily that “kicker” fish then I would leave a ¼ ounce size or two in the tackle box.
If I had to pick one color no matter where I am at in this country, I would have to go with a chrome blue. This color is almost “idiot-proof” and is a must have in every tackle box. Variations on the chrome blue that will work include the chrome black. These are best utilized when the sun is peeking through the clouds and that extra flash draws the fish in. The best time to use these colors is when the sun is out and the water is stained to clear. When the clouds move in, switch to a white or sexy shad variation, moving to something with less flash. When the fall rains make the water dirty you should change to gold, or change to a jig and pig altogether. You will be happy with your results with the chrome blue in clear water, but experiment and come up with your own colors for your particular situation.
Retrieves for the shad pattern are typically not complicated; throw it out and reel it in. It really is that simple. The noise and action of the lure does the work for you and takes the thinking out of it most times. There are those days, however, when a stop and go retrieve can add a fish or two in your net. The most unique retrieve I have had success in the past is what I call “Yo-Yo-ing” which is similar to the standard lift and drop rubber worm technique. Point the rod at noon, keep tension on the line as it falls, drop the rod tip down, and repeat. Small “tic” or “tap” on your rod tip usually means that the fish has inhaled the bait and it is time to set the hook – start smiling and get the net ready.
These are a couple variations on size, color and retrieval of these baits. Please experiment with these and try your own variations, and if you come up with something that works for you let us know. We would love to hear about your successes on our local waters.
TOP WATER WONDERS
You WILL have opportunities often for top water fishing in the fall – DEFINITELY! What feels strange, is you may end up working a popper, or a buzz bait, etc in the middle of the lake, no cover in sight, AND doing better than any warm-weather day you can recall. The schooling bass – “wolf packs” cruise the shad schools to the surface like tuna on sardines. And just like tuna fishing– watch for the birds. If you see them diving to the surface – there likely is a school of bait in their sights, and where there’s bait, there’s bass…
Work the popper with cadence, “pop-pop-pop-pop-pause-pop-pop-pop-pop” – you’ll know when the fish hits…
When working the buzz bait – DO NOT LET IT SINK WHEN IT HITS THE WATER – start reeling immediately. Reel just fast enough to keep the bait on the surface…
Many of the lipless cranks are manufactured with round -bend treble hooks. I would strongly advise to switching to EWG treble hooks. A common complaint with the lipless crank baits is that the fish throw the bait out of their mouths too easily with the manufactured round-bend hooks, so switching to the EWG hooks will improve your catch ratio and not let those big ones get away.
Adding a stinger hook to your buzz bait will definitely add to the catch. Bass that gorge so much on shad, often don’t seem to eat the bait, but smack the bait with the side of their head – or nipping just behind the bait. The trailer hook can help pick up these fish.
I prefer to use the Bass Pro Crankin’ Stick 7’ MH. These Crankin’ Sticks are a slower graphite than our Extreme Bionic blades and the slower rod tips help increase the action of the crank bait and help prevent you from ripping the bait from the fish’s mouth but still affords the sensitivity to feel those “tics and taps” discussed earlier. Match that rod with a Bass Pro Qualifier 6.4:1 reel and you have the ingredients for fish-catching success.
Add 10 – 14 pound monofilament line and you are good to go.
Use these tips as guidelines this fall. You can experiment to come up your best pattern.
USE THE WIND
Nobody really enjoys using the trolling motor constantly – but if you’re not in the wind – you’re on the wrong side of the lake. Wind pushes the little plankton etc that shad eat. Shad look for the plankton, bass look for the shad… circle of life stuff here…
If there is no wind at all – the bite get’s tough. Sometimes the wakes from boat traffic can help edge a bite out. But no wind can be tough for schooling bass… Pick up the bow and head to the tree stand!
Best of luck on the water!