Use these baits now for fall bass fishing
By Sam Rutherford
Choosing lures for fall bass fishing success is easier than you might think. The reason why? Largemouth bass go on feeding frenzies before the onset of winter when their metabolism slows, and so does their movement.
Baitfish, like shad, make up most of the fall diet of bass. Because of this, minnow and shad imitating baits are the best choices. Moving baits are ideal because the baitfish roam throughout the water column, and the bass follow them.
Here are some other top bait choices by Skeeter Boats Pro Team anglers Scott Canterbury, Ray Hanselman, and Wes Logan, all of whom are competing in fall tournaments on the Bassmaster® Elite Series.
Canterbury, from central Alabama, is the reigning Bassmaster® Angler of the Year. His top pick is a swim jig, which is an ideal shad imitator when slowly retrieved through various depths of the water column. In fall, shad roam in open water, and the swim jig fits the bill for the tactic. His choice is a Dirty Jigs 3/8-ounce Swim Jig.
"It's very versatile, and you can fish deep, in the grass, around shallow cover," said Canterbury.
For a reaction bite, and when the bass are more actively feeding and aggressive, Canterbury chooses a Bagley® Balsa B, a squarebill with a short, fat body.
“It comes through cover and really imitates a shad,” he said.
Hanselman is a guide on Lake Amistad in south Texas when not competing on tour. The desert lake has the same layout as many lowland impoundments with creeks and channels that merge with the main river channel. That layout is ideal for patterning schools of baitfish and bass.
For southern impoundments, Hanselman goes through a rotation using a buzz bait and punch rig. The latter setup is basically a Texas-rigged soft plastic lure on a heavy-duty straight-shank or wide gap worm hook, with a heavy sinker weighing up to 1 ounce, depending on the thickness of the vegetation. Hanselman’s lure choice is a Strike King® Rage Punch Bug, ideally named for the presentation used with it.
"The presentation is to make a flip with the bait, so it makes an arc and lands hard on the surface, to punch through the matted surface of the vegetation,” he said.
Seek areas of heavily matted vegetation in creeks.
"As fall progresses, the baitfish eventually move to the backs of creeks, which is good because it concentrates the bait in a smaller area," he said. "It's easier to find the bait than it was out on the main lake."
Another top choice is a buzz bait. Hanselman’s prefers the Strike King® Toad Buzz, a buzz bait with a soft plastic frog impaled through the hook shaft to make it look like a frog fleeing from a bass.
“Fish it over isolated vegetation and dying vegetation that won’t foul the bait,” he said. “Fish become more aggressive as the water cools, so it’s a great bait for triggering strikes.”
Logan, an Elite Series rookie, grew up fishing and honing his skills in central Alabama. The lakes resemble rivers, along with a mix of highland reservoirs like Smith Lake.
Logan begins his search for baitfish and bass in the mid-section of large creeks, working toward the back.
“Start midway and work back, which is the direction the bait and bass will be moving,” he said. “You also have more shoreline cover for the bass to use as ambush points.”
Meaning, the largemouth hide around isolated laydowns and wood extending into the water. When baitfish come by, they ambush them for an easy meal.
Logan favors a Dirty Jigs Scott Canterbury Pro Buzz®, using a Zoom® Lures Z Craw Jr. for a trailer. He makes casts parallel to the shoreline to cover more of the habitat.
For less active bass, he uses a flipping setup that he fishes around the same habitat.
“Sometimes the fish aren’t as aggressive, or following a cold front, and won’t be chasing the bait,” he said.
When that is the case, he rigs up with a Z-Man® Chatterbait®, a bladed jig capable of working deeper into the water column. Making casts to the cover and slowly retrieving the lure back is the best presentation.
For an even slower presentation, Logan gears up with a Dirty Jigs Scott Canterbury Flippin’ Jig, rigged with a Zoom® Big Salty Chunk for a trailer.
Give these tips a try and remember, match the lure to the bait, which in fall are minnow imitators, including buzz baits.
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