The Top Baits For September:
Late Summer into Early Fall
by Bruce Callis Jr
As we hit the end of August and start to think about the approaching fall and big bass. September has been the time when kids return to school and most pleasure boaters are only present on beautiful weekends. It is when we get the lakes back to ourselves for the most part. But what are we looking at for baits this time of year? The bass are starting to really feed up as the weather cools, and we think fishing should be lights out, but it can be a struggle at times.
Now is a time when the oxygen levels in the water are at their lowest. And because of that, bass are moving up in the water column. They will be chasing bait, whatever is the most dominant species in your area. Whether it is shad, blue back herring, perch, or whatever you have, the bass will be chasing them and for the most part, they are feeding up. Up in the water column. That is why you see the birds on the surface or the baitfish busting the surface. And because of that, we need to think like the bass.
This time of year, my first choice is always topwater. And with it comes a lot of choices. My favorite right now is the SPRO Cyclone Prop Jr. It reminds me of those old prop style bait, and to some extent, a Whopper Plopper. But don’t think it is the same. With the metal blade, it has a very unique sound all it’s own. I like to use a 7 foot medium heavy rod and a 6.3:1 gear Quantum reel spooled with 20 or 30 pound Seaguar TACTX Braid. I make long casts to shore or along the shore and use a steady, but slow, retrieve. This keeps the bait moving without twisting and it allows the bass to hone in on it. Don’t get me wrong, if I am not getting any action, I will work it back, giving it quick pulls to make it sputter and stop. Just keep experimenting to see what the bass like the most. Work it over laydowns and around the edges of the lily pads especially. But don’t forget about those points, especially long, tapering points into deeper water.
The next bait may seem a bit different, but I like to burn a big squarebill. I’m not trying to hit the bottom, but offer them something different. I really like to work the around docks and laydowns. For this, I like the SPRO Hunter 65 SB, which dives 3-5 feet or the Fat Papa SB 55 and Fat Papa SB 70, both that run at 3-5 feet, but offers a different size body. If I want to get deeper, I will go with the Fat Papa 55 or Fat Papa 70 or a Little John or Little John MD 50. For cranking, I prefer a 7’2” to 7’4” medium to medium heavy rod with a fast tip. This helps keep me from ripping the bait out of the bass’ mouth when it strikes. I prefer 10-12 lb SEAGUAR Red Label Fluorocarbon on a 7.0:1 or 7.3:1 Quantum reel. I like to work them around docks and laydowns especially.
Number 3 on the list would be a lipless crankbait. This bait can be worked from shallow out to deeper water. I really like the SPRO Aruku Shad in a variety of sizes to match the size of the baitfish, but the 75 is my go to size. And I like the same basic set up as my squarebill, a 7’2”-7’4” medium heavy rod with a 7.0:1 or 7.3:1 reel spooled with 10-12 pound fluorocarbon. I can work it in the shallows and out off the drop offs.
My number 4 on the list is a jerkbait. You can cover a lot of water with a jerkbait. I like the SPRO McStick 95 or 110, depending on the size of the baitfish for the shallow water as it dives to 3-5 feet and suspends there. Making it easier to stop it in the strike zone. I will also go with a floating jerkbait, like the ZERO Minnow 130, as it dives to about a foot more or less, but will rise when stopped. Or the McStick 115 as it is a slow floating and shallow diving jerkbait that dives to a maximum depth of 3 feet.
These are my top 4 baits for this time of year, but you can’t rule out soft plastics around docks and laydowns or a big worm on a Carolina rig. And you can’t rule out a spinnerbait or a chatterbait. And for some, the drop shot never stops working. This can be a challenging time of year, but you just have to keep searching for what is working on any given day. One may work better on one spot on the lake, but another work further up lake or down.
The main thing is to not give up, to not get frustrated. Keep that bait moving and searching. This can be a great time to catch some giant bass. Make sure to wear that life jacket! And remember to take a kid fishing! Make a memory to last a lifetime!