Match the fall hatch

Let me say right up front that there are a lot of lures that'll catch bass in the fall. Spinnerbaits, jigs and plastics all have their place when the leaves start to turn. But for me there's no better bass lure at this time of the year than a plug.

Hard baits — crankbaits, jerkbaits, and topwater lures — have been around forever. There's a reason for that. They catch fish. What hasn't been around forever is the LaserLure concept. It's relatively new, at least in the sportfishing arena. The idea is to have a laser beam or pulse (red) flash from the bait to cause a predator response in bass.

Understand that the laser is not designed to draw fish from 100 yards away. It won't do that, and no one with any credibility has ever said that it did. It's just one more factor in a bait's performance. At one time all you had was vibration, roll, sound, color and smell in a plug. Now you have a laser pulse.

It works. You can take that from Ike.

Add to that the fact that LaserLure baits come in several sizes and running depths as well as a huge number of colors, and you can see why they're my favorite hard baits. I can match the local hatch anywhere in the country with one of them.

I start by choosing a lure that'll run at the right depth. If you're not where the fish are, you're wasting your time. As you know from previous blogs, I like baits that run just a little deeper than the water I'm fishing. I want them banging off stuff down there, always changing directions.

Next is color. Forage is an everchanging thing. In some lakes, it'll be shad, but in others it might be perch, alewives or hitch. Match the local colors. It's different in almost every lake. Get the idea of a best — or favorite — color out of your mind. It's always different.

Next is size. Try to throw a lure that is pretty close to the available forage in size. Sometimes that'll make a big difference.

Last is sound and smell. Sometimes you'll want a rattle, and sometimes you won't. LaserLure has plenty of each.

As far as smell is concerned, you'll have to make your own decision about whether or not to smear one of the fish attractants on your hard bait. In my opinion, the jury is still out on that issue. (I suspect the better quality ones work to some extent, but there's also a lot of junk out there. Be careful with your money.)

Once you've selected the right bait, throw it until you think your arm is going to fall off. Crank and bang, and then bang and crank. You'll get on them at some point if you read last week's blog and are fishing in the right places.

Next week we'll talk about the late fall transition.