The Hunt is On!
Late Fall Fishing
by Bruce Callis Jr
Winter is coming! And some believe in the amount of black on a wolly bear in the fall determines the severity of the coming winter. The wider the black band, the longer, colder, and snowier the winter will be. We may be in for a very cold, snowy winter. The banded Wolly Bear is the larval form of the Isabella Tiger Moth. Better get ready for it, just to be safe. But for now, we have plenty of fishing to do!
With the cold fronts coming through, the nights are getting colder, with freeze and frost warning hitting everywhere, and the water temperatures are dropping. The lakes and ponds are getting less pressure because a lot of the anglers are opting to go hunting. I’m not against hunting, but I love my fishing more. And yes, I will go hunting for meat and bass fishing. I was raised that way. Now is a great time to explore while there is less traffic. Be surprised at what you can find for next year.
As we hit the end of October and start to enter November, the bass are chasing baitfish. And they are very hungry, trying to fill up for the winter ahead. Winter, the hawg hunting season I love. But it’s still fall and we need to find them. The old find the baitfish and you will find bass is true. But they are going to be scattered everywhere. From shallow shore lines, the backs of pockets, the feeder creeks and coves, to still deep, the baitfish can be found. Bass will be everywhere too.
Covering the Surface
The first bait I am going to be have tied on all day long is a topwater. Besides throwing it in the early morning and late evening, it will work all day long. There are two main ones I will have on, a walking style bait, like a Zara Spook Jr or a SPRO Fat PAPA Walker 120. Both are great and you can cover a lot of water with them. The second bait is a popper. Here I have either a SPRO E POP 80 tied on or a smaller popper on a spinning rod. When the bass have the baitfish busting the surface, you have two choices that are proven bass catchers. I will work them all day up in the shallows, around laydowns and out over the points and spawning flats.
To Jerk or Not
Right now, the jerkbait is a must have. A lot of people don’t like throwing it all day, but if you have it paired up with the right rod and reel, it isn’t difficult or as tiring. I prefer the SPRO McStick 110 or 95. The 95 is smaller and is about the size of most of the baitfish, but the 110 will get you bigger bass at times as it stands out for a easier big meal. They can be worked from the shallows to the drop offs. Since they dive to 3-5 feet, I start in the shallows with an upward jerking of the rod until it gets a little bit off the shore. Work the main lake points and secondary points with them as well. Work down the sides of the points and then come across them from both sides. And don’t overlook working the mouths of the pockets and creeks with them.
Covering the Depths
If you don’t already know it, the lipless crankbait is by far my most dependable bait year round. There is just something about a SPRO Aruku Shad that just produces. And chrome blue back has been my most productive all year long. I prefer the 75 size, but don’t be afraid to drop down the 60 series. They both cover water and produce big bites. From shallow to the deeper channels and drop offs. They can be worked from shallow out to the boat or parallel to the shore at any depth. Retrieved with a steady, slow speed can catch big ones, as also speeding them up will. Truly, the only wrong way to use them is by leaving them in your tackle box.
Shallow running crankbaits are always a great way to catch bass this time of year as well. The SPRO lineup has everything you need covered. Whether you want a silent running crankbait or a rattling style, they have them both. The Fat John 60 has been a spring and fall favorite for me and the Little John with it. But don’t overlook the Little John Micro DD 45 right now. Most of the baits that run 8-10 feet are much bigger, but the 45 is a more finesse style crankbait. Or a squarebill like the Fat Pappa SB 55 or the Hunter Crank 65 SB are great choices as well. If you are working rocks, the Rk Crawler is deadly at coming through them.
The old time spinnerbait is a bait I always have tied on. It has been a proved bass catching machine since it was introduced. It has been the mainstay of anglers for years, with even a Classic victory to it’s credit. I prefer a 1/2 ounce spinnerbait with a willow leaf and a small Colorado blade combination. This will give off the flash of a baitfish and allow the bait to run shallower. Some prefer to use a heavier lure so they can burn it under the surface. Both work great at covering water and drawing in bass. I prefer to have a white colored skirt, but not a solid bright white. And a chatterbait is preferred by others, and I do like them, but right now, the spinnerbait just seems to work that much better.
As much as we love to cover water, sometimes we need to slow down and work the laydowns and other structure. The jig has been one of those baits that just seems to always work. But it is also that you need to learn to use. Yes, anyone can throw one and catch a bass, but learning to feel the bottom, to know what is a stick or a clump of grass on the bottom and when a fish has picked it up, takes time and experience. And the only way to it is by using it. I know I had to do the same thing, and I am still learning. As to what type of line to use, people will always disagree. Some prefer nothing but braid, and I can understand why, but by using fluorocarbon, the fish cannot see the line as easily. And what size works best? If I am using braid, mostly for stained or dirty water, I want 40 or 50 pound test. When using fluorocarbon, I prefer 20 pound test as it allows me set the hook better. The size of the jig matters too. A heavier jig, like 1/2-3/4 ounce falls very fast and a 1/4-3/8 ounce falls slower. And the style trailer also effects the fall rate. A streamlined bait, like a worm will not effect the fall rate, but a bigger bait with a lot of moving appendages will actually slow the fall. There are plenty of great trailers to choose from. The Missile Baits Twin Turbo, the Mini D Chunk, D Bomb and the PowerTeam Lures 3.5 inch Craw D’oeuvre and the 4.5 inch grub are all great. Jigs are proven big bass catches, but it is also something you need to learn to use effectively.
A Texas rigged worm or creature bait is a great way to fish laydowns, grass and lily pads. Bass will chase baitfish into them and they are great ambush points for bass to attack baitfish swimming by. There a lot of great choices here. The Power Team Lures 3.8 inch Mauler and the 3.5 inch Craw D’oeuvre are great choices. I also like the Missile Baits D Bomb, Baby D Bomb, Baby Destroyer, and Destroyer for flipping and pitching. And the the weight effects the fall rate. I also like the Baby Destroyer on a Carolina rig worked shallow and deep.
Fall, and especially now, can be a very difficult time for fishing, but it can also be very rewarding. By keeping our weapons handy and covering as much water as possible, we increase our opportunities to land some big bass. Every chance we have on the water is also an opportunity to learn. The bite may be slower, but we are learning to look in key areas. So put on those good sunglasses and watch the water. Be ready to change, be it baits or just the color. If they are hitting your bait, but not taking it into their mouth, the bait is right, but a color change could be the ticket to more bass. Now go out and put the knowledge to work and catch a new personal best.