Pat Golden is on the verge of a breakthrough. In four seasons as an Elite Series pro, he's improved each and every year, climbing from 91st in 2008 to 53rd in 2009 to 44th in 2010 and most recently to 39th in 2011. There's only one explanation for his success: Golden is catching 'em, and here's one of his favorite ways to do it in the fall.
Water temperature: 65-75 degrees
Water color: Off-colored water is best. In clear water they can be spooky and will tend to school more, which will attract other anglers and add fishing pressure to the area.
Wind/current: Not much of a factor with this pattern.
Structure: Creek channels and ditches.
Cover: Isolated cover of any kind, from overhanging willows to bushes to blowdowns, stickups or rocks.
Depth: 6 inches to 3 feet.
Lures: (1) 3/8-ounce Dave's Tournament Tackle Tiger Shad or Bull's Eye spinnerbait with a number 5 or 6 Colorado or Indiana blade on the back of the tandem spin; (2) 1/8- or 1/4-ounce Dave's Tournament Tackle buzzbait or (3) 1/8-ounce Terminator buzzbait ("It has a high-pitched squeal that bass can't seem to resist," Golden says). His preferred color for each of these baits is white since he's trying to mimic shad.
Rod: Cashion 6-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy action casting rod. With this pattern, Golden may find himself in heavy cover with lots of overhanging trees. He's making short, precise casts and a longer rod could get in the way.
Reel: Abu Garcia Revo STX (6.4:1).
Line: Sufix Performance Braid (36- or 51-pound-test) for the buzzbaits; Berkley Trilene Big Game (15- or 17-pound test) for the spinnerbait — a little stretch can be good here.
Cast/Flip/Pitch: Short casts to isolated cover. Most of Golden's casts with this pattern are only about 20 feet in length. He wants short, extremely accurate casts that land quietly and get the lure moving right away
Retrieve: As soon as the lure hits the water, Golden lifts his rod tip to get it moving. He keeps the spinnerbait bulging just under the surface and lets water temperature and bass activity levels dictate his buzzbait retrieve. If the water's still pretty warm, he'll start by burning the buzzbait. If it's cooler, he'll crawl it across the surface. Ultimately, he lets the bass tell him what they want.
Keys to Success
When fishing this shallow, Golden has one big watchword: stealth. He keeps his trolling motor on low and avoids "pushing" water onto the cover he's fishing with his boat. Another key is bait. Golden scouts potential hotspots by running all over the lake and looking in likely pockets. If he doesn't see balls of shad within just a few seconds, he moves on. Finally, if you're in an area (or fishing a piece of cover) that you believe holds bass but can't get them to hit the spinnerbait or buzzbait, try flipping a jig on key cover. It might get you the best fish of the day.