An angler gets dressed up in a costume -- like a multi-colored laminated shirt with 27 logos and a matching hat -- then goes around to where the bass live and knocks on the door and yells “trick or treat!” Some days you’re tricked and others treated, but one thing’s for certain, both begging children and hopeful bass anglers are proud of a big sack when the day is done.
Smallmouth bass are like coiled springs ready to bounce into the air almost anytime water temperature is above 50 degrees, and there’s no finer sight than a jumping bronzeback against the elegant colors of autumn in the North. It’s even more beautiful if that bass nearly stopped your heart with a shocking topwater strike.
If you’ve ever seen a misdirected grasshopper land in the drink, you know what happens next. The hopper stays motionless for a moment and then scurries frantically across the surface. Most never reach land because bluegills stay on the lookout for swimming land bugs, especially during fall, when grasshoppers abound in shoreline grass and more than a few end up with their feet wet.
Stripers prefer water temperature around 55- to 68-degrees. If the water is too hot, they may feed shallow occasionally, but quickly return to the oxygenated rich, cooler water. Same goes for extremely cold water. But between the two extremes comes your best bet for some of the most exciting fishing freshwater has to offer.
Finding the “X” isn’t just for pirates. Anglers are looking for it, too, that little known and hard to find location that holds the key to consistently catching quality speckled trout at jetty systems on the Gulf Coast. The location of the “X,” from early to mid summer, often is a “washout.” These are the places in granite monoliths where water flows from the channel to the Gulf side and vice versa.
"If it hadn’t been raining 75 years ago, we wouldn't be here today," Bill Baab told a crowd that had assembled beside Montgomery Lake, an unassuming oxbow off Georgia’s Ocmulgee River.
One of the best places for a shallow running crankbait is a flat with plenty of wood cover, and it’s often essential to crash the bait into the wood to get a strike. Remember, you can get a shallow-runner deeper by throwing it on lighter line. The XCalibur Square Lip was designed to ricochet off cover and come through the thick stuff. Make sure you’re hitting it. Likewise, if the area you’re fishing is less than 3 feet deep, heavier line will keep the bait running shallower.
Most anglers night fish during the summer, but the best time to night-fish for really big bass is during the prespawn when bass are at their heaviest. Big-bass expert and lure designer Mitch Looper likes to be on the water by 4 a.m. in early spring when a strong moon phase is at its peak about the time the sun comes up, such as when a full moon hits either horizon at dawn. He uses a lure designed for big bass, too, a Booyah A-Jig if fishing grass or weeds and a Pigskin when working rocks. He likes a YUM F2 Money Craw as the trailer.
Late fall can mean only one thing to a bass fisherman. Feeding Frenzy! This is the time of the year when bass feed heavily before winter. There are several lures and techniques that can be used, but my favorite lure choices are the Heddon Zara Spook and the Rebel Pop-R. During fall, bass come out of the deep water summer pattern and head toward the coves to feed. Shallow timbered coves with a small creek channel running through are good starting places. If you do not have any luck next to the bank, position the boat in the middle of the pocket and fan cast until you find them.
Suspended bass can be some of the most difficult fish to catch — simply because when they’re suspended they’re usually in an inactive mood and don’t want to chase a lure. But if you can keep something appealing in the strike zone long enough, they’re much more apt to bite. Two of the most effective lures I’ve found for this situation is the Smithwick 4 1/2-inch Suspending Rogue and the Bomber Long A. The reasons these baits work so well is they have the ability to deliver an enticing "darting" action and they suspend well in between twitches on or just above the bass’s depth level. This is an unbeatable technique — but naturally you’ll have to experiment with different sizes and colors.