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Shad Time


See surface dimples, scattered splashes or water that appears dark in areas from hordes of baitfish swimming just beneath the surface? You could be close to tapping into excellent autumn fishing action.

Late in the summer, shad congregate in massive schools, and as summer begins giving way to autumn, those schools begin moving predictably into tributary arms of reservoirs and eventually onto shallow flats well up creek and river arms.

Not surprisingly, where thousands of shad gather, feeding bass are typically nearby. Although some fish will continue to relate to crawfish, bluegills or other forage and can be caught various ways, there is no more dependable way to find and catch bass this time of year than to locate shad schools and use lures that “match the hatch.”

Because the shad play such an important part during fall, it is prudent to spend time searching out the biggest baitfish concentrations before making a cast. A reservoir’s largest creek arms typically attract the biggest schools, which show up first near creek mouths and work their way back as the season progresses. Sometimes you need electronics to find the bait. Often, you will spot little rings on top when the shad roll or will see the shad themselves if they are high in the water column and the water is reasonably clear. Other times, bass pushing shad on the surface will give away the bait and the bass.



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New from Norman Lures - Speed N

Norman Lures Introduces Speed N

Norman lures’ newest crankbait, the Speed N, began proving its worth before it was even released, when limited-production samples produced top 5 finishes at the 2020 Bassmaster Classic for Stetson Blaylock and Micah Frazier.

Designed primarily for cold-water fishing, with a tight wiggle and unique “pitch and roll” action that triggers strikes and sheds vegetation as it swims through developing weed beds, the Speed N proved perfect for the pre-spawn set-up at the Classic, which was held in early March on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville.

This crankbait isn’t only for cold water, though.

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late summer largemouth bass

Late Summer Crankbait Strategies

Late summer offers definite challenges for bass fishermen because the bass don’t like the heat any more than most fishermen do, so they tend to lay low. Fish still must eat, though, and they certainly can be caught.

Long-time Tennessee guide Jim Duckworth, who has techniques to work well for every season and virtually every situation, likes a couple of specific crankbait approaches for bass fishing through the dog days. Maybe we should say, “dog mornings.” Duckworth gets on the water while it’s still dark this time of year to be set up in a high-percentage spot at daylight, and he seldom fishes past mid-morning in order to maximize productive time on the water.

Duckworth has learned that late in the summer quality bass tend to stack up on deep, main-lake points that are at the mouths of significant coves or creeks. He works these points with Bandit 200s and 300s fished on 8-pound test for maximized depth reach and vibration.

Duckworth will crank a point very thoroughly from the tip of the point to about 50 yards away on each side. “Work both sides twice, just in case you have to aggravate the fish into biting,” he said.

Duckworth also finds a lot of late summer bass over the second drop out from banks, with depths in the 10-to 15-foot range. For these fish, he uses an aggressive stop-and-go presentation. He cranks the lure quickly to max depth before pausing, and each pause is just long enough to allow the bait to start rising.

“Then I crank it into high gear for about five second, stop it again and repeat,” he said.

Both cranking strategies can work under any condition, but Duckworth finds the best late summer success under overcast skies and with stable water conditions.

Jim Duckworth suggests trying these dog days strategies to #LandItWithBandit.

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