(Author’s note: In last week’s article there was a misprint on the legal number of deer that can be taken by hunters. The correct information should have been a total of twelve.)
If you are a bass fisherman it is a great time of year to catch a live well full of them. Our typical weather patterns for October and part of November will bring on changes that will get the fish going once again after the summer doldrums and you can take full advantage of the bonanza. There are plenty of opportunities to load up on largemouth bass and you can often find them in shallow areas of impoundments and ponds.
At present bass have pretty much changed from their summer haunts and taken up residence in places more suitable for their need to prepare for winter. Falling water temperatures are a signal to the fish to fatten up for the long winter ahead and that’s what they are doing right now. With water temperatures in the lower 70’s in most places the fish are apt to be very active. These bass are grouped up in specific types of places and for a large portion of the day are roaming the shallows gorging themselves on small bream, shad and other types of baitfish. This time of year bass will get to these prime feeding areas earlier than usual and stay later than usual because there are fewer hours of daylight. Here are a few things that may help you find and catch them.
One of the things you will notice is the presence of baitfish in cover along shorelines and over shallow flats where there are submerged grass beds. Because of the lack of rainfall and the resulting lower water levels there are plenty of these types of places that can be easily spotted. Bass will likely be in and around places like this where there is easy access to the food and lots of good ambush cover from which to strike. These places are even more enticing to bass if there is a depth break close by like a creek channel where they can escape to if they feel threatened.
The hottest tactic for me right now in these shallow areas is using soft jerk baits like trick worms or super flukes with no weight. Rig these weedless and you won’t have any trouble with hang ups. I like to throw into places where there is matted grass and let the lure drop down in the close cover. I also like using those same lures over big expanses of submerged weeds and allow the worm or fluke to drift down slowly then use an erratic retrieve over the grass for a few feet before letting it drift down into the cover again. I’ve caught plenty of fish lately during the middle of the day in these shallow areas so don’t shy away from them just because the sun is high overhead. The fish are there and you may even spot a wave or two on these flats as the fish move around.
If the area you have chosen is deeper than about four feet, you may want to add a small amount of lead to your presentation to help get it down to the grass a little faster. Additionally it is safe to say that even though I favor the soft plastics, other baits will work just as well if not better depending on the circumstances. Other favorite lures for this part of the fishing season include top water plugs, buzz baits, big bladed spinner baits and perhaps the most popular of all, small crankbaits.
Discovering which one is right for a particular day is usually a product of experimentation. The most important things are to find bait in areas that are relatively shallow, look to make sure that there is ambush cover either on top or underneath the water and then cover as much ground as you can. Another key thing to remember is that in the fall if you catch a fish there are probably others lurking nearby. Once you catch a fish cut the trolling motor off and work the surrounding area thoroughly. You will probably get some more hook-ups.
Weather changes in the fall can affect the fishing but because most cold fronts this time of year are relatively mild ones, the effects will probably only serve to slow down the bite for a day so don’t let that keep you from heading to the lake. Winter time fronts are often times much more severe and seem to have the effect of shutting down fish appetites for several days until the weather stabilizes again.
I’ve talked a lot about fishing the weedy stuff but if you fish in a lake where there’s not a lot of grass the next best bets are rocky areas or places that have a cluster of underwater stumps. Boat docks can also serve as places for fish to use as ambush points.
Comments, questions and pictures are always welcome.
Articles and columns by Alvin Richardson about hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports appear weekly in the Statesboro Herald. Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.