This has been one of the best years of my career, and with Fall bass fishing fast approaching I plan to continue the momentum I have had going thus far right through to the end of the year. This is by far my favorite season because the bass get real aggressive, and it suits my style of fishing very well. The key to the big fish is that they want to eat one BIG meal, and they don’t want to work hard to get it. With that said, here are some tips that will help you decide where to target those fish, and details on what baits to throw, how to throw them, and when, so that you too can have the kind of dream season that people live for!
1. Strike King Tour Grade Spinnerbait
As the temperatures cool all bass move in from deeper waters. That means the bigger fish that have summered in the deeper waters near the thermocline will start coming in to pack on the pounds before winter, and they’ll be following the shad to do it. You’ll want to focus on secondary points, creek mouths, and rocky wind-blown banks, and there’s no better bait to throw in these areas than the Strike King Tour Grade Spinnerbait. My personal favorite is a 3/4oz Sexy Shad, tandem blade (gold Colorado, silver willow), with a trailer hook. It has a big profile, and you can really slow roll it in any scenario. I never go out on the water in September, October, or November without this bait on the deck. It’s rugged enough to handle the biggest smallmouth the Great Lakes has to offer. And if it can handle those fish, it can handle anything. This is a great anytime bait so keep it handy, definitely throw it anytime you see schooling fish busting bait at the surface.
2. Yellow Hammer Rig
By now there aren’t too many people who haven’t thrown some sort of umbrella rig. The only one I’ve ever thrown is a Yellow Hammer rig because it’s made in America with heavy wires that will stand up to musky, smallmouth, largemouth, northern pike, walleye, and even giant drum. On windy days this has been one of my go to baits because it’s heavier than other rigs and when I add 5 inch swimbaits with jig heads from Elite Tungsten, it allows me to get that bait down in 4 foot waves to where the fish are, while other rigs would be stuck near the surface. The blades add vibration, light, and displace water to make the bait more attractive to fish. My personal favorite is the Hammertime Shad. I’ve fished several tournaments in the last two years where this bait put every fish in the boat and was the sole reason why I cashed checks on more than one occasion. This is best thrown on cloudy, windy days from late morning to early evening near points, and along the weed edge.
3. The Floating Slop Frog
Frogs hibernate in the winter. So like other animals that sleep for months, they need to pack on weight to sustain themselves. This makes them more active, which has the bass targeting them more often. A floating Slop Frog is a great bait to use because it’s heavier than a hollow-bodied frog, which allows you to skip it a lot better under docks and laydowns, and it sits in the water like a floating jig. While the complaint about frog fishing for years has been how hard it can be to get good hooksets, the hook design of the Slop Frog eliminates that entirely and drive the bait through the top of the mouth every time, just like a jig. You’ll love feeling like you’re power fishing on the surface with the added confidence you get from knowing you won’t lose the fish that blows up on your bait! Unlike the summer, when you concentrate on areas that have really thick, dense mats; shift your focus to those areas that have smaller groups of lilipads or grass beds. Fish are cruising this time of year, rather than sheltering from the sun. So they’re looking for areas that can deliver an easy meal. This can be thrown all day, especially if it’s calm, or if you’re in areas that are shielded from the wind. These fish were all caught within a 100 yard stretch of shoreline targeting blowdowns and stumps with a black slop frog.
3. Jerk Jerk Pause
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had this bait for about a year now, and while I’ve caught fish all year on the Echo 1.75 from Rat-L-Trap, the fall is when this bait really does deliver a lot of value. It’s louder, has some crazy action, and comes in the absolute best fall colors there are including my personal favorite, Texas Craw. This color is just deadly in the fall. With this bait, I don’t have to target any particular area, I just chuck and wind. I’ll position myself inside that outer weedline and throw it out and bring it in towards shore, around docks, between patches of grass and lilipads, down shorelines, across points. I particularly like to get up inside a creek, face the main lake, throw it out, and then work it back in like a baitfish moving into the creek, especially if there’s any ambush points for big bass near that mouth. Don’t be afraid to bounce this bait off a stump or laydown. This is a reaction bait, so it’s great all day, in any condition. This fish was caught in a snowstorm, on the Texas Craw color.
There are so many great baits to throw this time of year, that narrowing it down to my 5 favorites has been really tough. But I tried to give you some examples that have delivered my biggest fish over the years, so that you can try to get some giants yourself. Remember, anyone who likes my Facebook page can send me a private message and get any waypoint from any lake I’ve ever fished. Good luck!