The peak action on sandbars happens in late summer. These structures typically form between wing dams and have a shallow point that drops into deep water. The bass push baitfish up onto the sandbar’s point, where they can eat them more easily.
Sandbar bass are suckers for a small popper, such as XCalibur’s Zell Pop, Rook advises. If the bass aren’t willing to come up for a topwater bait, Rook drags a Carolina rigged Zoom Brush Hog over the sandbar. A 3/4-ounce tungsten sinker and a 24- to 30-inch leader work well here.
“You usually catch only one or two bass from a sandbar or wing dam,” Rook says. “But, once you figure out what the bass want, you can run that pattern up and down the whole river.”
When the water chills in autumn, shad suspend near the surface. The bass rise with them. It’s common then to see pods of shad rippling and popping the surface on the main river and in the backwaters.
“The bass spread out at that time of year, so you have to check everything,” Rook says. “The main thing is that baitfish have to be present.”
Crankbaits and poppers continue to produce on the main river in the fall. Rook also adds a 3/8-ounce War Eagle spinnerbait to his arsenal. A white head and skirt with a gold Indiana blade trailing a nickel Colorado blade is a proven combination.
Although Rook has won many tournaments by fishing the river’s wing dams in the fall, he has also scored big in the backwaters. Bass in the backwaters use windfalls, stumps, brush and any other shallow cover as an ambush point.
Rook ambushes the bass by casting a spinnerbait and a square bill crankbait to this cover. Pitching a jig or Texas rigged creature bait nabs bass that aren’t willing to chase.
Rook claims that you can catch winter bass on the Arkansas River by fishing wing dams, creek mouths and revetments. A revetment is a riprap bank that runs parallel to the river. Unlike a wing dam, which is brushed by the current, a revetment usually borders slack water.
A square bill crankbait works well in the winter. If the water is clear, a jerkbait also dupes the bass, Rook says.
Visit Bassmaster.com/Arkansas for more on Arkansas bass fishing.