Welcome to Denny Brauer's Bass Class. In this series, we'll talk about tackle, techniques, equipment, bass behavior and other aspects of the sport that will help you become a great angler.
I'd like to start the series by talking about schooling bass in cooler water.
The key to locating schoolers in fall and early winter is finding the baitfish. That's an issue with anglers throughout the year, but it must be a priority in cooler weather to fish where the bait is and to pay attention to the surface activity of that bait.
Many times just finding the bait is a task by itself. You should start searching for bait on main lake flats and the inside bends of main lake channels. I often find the bait concentrated on the flattest side of the bends.
Baitfish tend to roam around. If you miss them on the flats, check main lake points — the flatter, the better. If they've moved from there, start looking in pockets and backs of creeks like in spring. If those options fail, then move to rocky points or riprap.
Somewhere, among that mix of options, you'll find the bait and the bass.
Once you've found the baitfish and they're mixing it up on the surface, there are three baits I've found to be particularly effective:
- A popper such as a Strike King Spit-N-King. This bait style has gone a little out of vogue, but it's great for largemouth and spots, especially in calm water.
- A Strike King Sexy Dog (make sure it's pointed at the snout) in rougher water. Walking-the-dog can really bring vicious strikes.
- A buzzbait such as the Strike King Tour Grade Buzzbait. Believe it or not, my preference is black. For some reason in fall, black is a killer color. It works in calm, rough, dirty or clear water. Use a trailer hook 100 percent of the time.
Now, finding bait and throwing lures won't do much good unless you have the right outfits. I recommend two types of rods for the baits we've discussed.
The first is a 7-foot, 2-inch action rod for the poppers and dog walking. It's longer than most folks use, but it'll give you control and longer casts. I designed a spinnerbait/worm rod for American Rodsmith called the DBWS-WSB7S that works great for some topwaters.
The second rod is a 7-foot, 3-inch frog rod for power buzzbaiting. I prefer the DBWS-FR73. Like the rod mentioned above, it's part of American Rodsmith's Wrecking Stick line.
As far as reels, I believe a 6:3:1 ratio is very important for all three bait types. It'll give you power, control and a quick retrieve. The Ardent XS1000 is a great baitcaster for this application.
Seventeen-pound mono is perfect for all three baits. If you're anticipating hawgs, switch to 20-pound mono for buzzbaits. I'll even go with braid, occasionally.
Thanks for reading the first installment of Denny's Bass Class. I hope the information we cover keeps you coming back for more!