By Steve Graf
Get ready! It’s the time of year that all anglers look forward to… the fall-feeding frenzy…where bass gorge themselves to the point that it looks like they ate a football! It’s official, the bass buffet is now open for all bass, large and small. October in the south is probably one of the best months of the year to go out and catch a lot of bass as they migrate up the creeks chasing shad. This fiesta occurs each year as the days get shorter, triggering largemouth bass to start fattening up for the long winter months.
Probably the first question: What baits should be thrown in order to give yourself the best opportunity to catch these hungry bass? Well, that’s a million-dollar question, but today you’ll get an angler’s perspective on the best baits that will put the odds in your favor. First, you have to understand the prey you’re trying to mimic because bass can be a little finicky this time of year. Baitfish, also known as shad, is the main thing they are looking for as the bass head up the creeks. They will travel in small wolf packs rounding up and forcing balls of shad (bait fish) into shallow water where they will ambush them with force. Remember, they won’t bite just any old bait, it must be something that looks similar to what they are eating.
One of the best baits for this style of fishing is a crankbait. Several come to mind like a Bandit 100 or 200 series in a shad pattern they call pearl/black back. Strike King also makes a great crankbait in what is called the KVD Series (designed by pro angler Kevin Van Dam). Their best colors are a green gizzard shad or what they call sexy shad. Both are great shad imitators and will get the job done. Remember, it’s not complicated, just try to throw something that looks like bait fish or shad. The next great choice would be a spinnerbait, as nothing mimics shad better than a skirted spinnerbait with either double willow blades or a three-bladed spinnerbait. The three-bladed baits are very popular and productive this time of year.
Now let’s look at two great baits for topwater action. A Heddon Zara Spook or the Zara Puppy in a clear or shad color should be your first choice when it comes to walking-style bait. This is bait that literally walks side to side when being retrieved. It mimics bait fish running across the top of the water and bass just can’t stand it; they have to eat it! The next bait of choice for topwater is a buzz bait. This is a bait that looks similar to a spinner bait but is fished as a topwater with a big propeller-type blade. Most will come with a skirt just like a spinnerbait, but this time of year it’s better if you take the skirt off and replace it with some type of white wide tail grub, a twin tail grub, or a Zoom Horney Toad. Again, you’re just trying to mimic shad or bait fish scurrying across the water in order to trigger bass into biting.
I hope these suggestions will help you this fall as you head for your favorite body of water looking to take advantage of this awesome time of year. Another great thing about fall fishing is the fact that many of our lakes and waterways are bare of anglers since many of them are headed for the woods looking to put meat in their freezer with a deer or two, or maybe a few bushy tails. Some days, you’ll literally have the lake all to yourself; that’s when the fun begins! Till next time, good luck, good fishing, and don’t forget your sunscreen. Take it from this angler, Melanoma is not something you want to deal with.