It’s hockey, football and punchin’ season


Alan McGuckin

October is awesome. The temps are mild, the leaves are changing colors, and for me, it’s the start of hockey season for my Pittsburgh Penguins, and the heart of football season for my home state Ohio State Buckeyes. Plus, as a fisherman …. I love that it’s peak season for punchin’ bass in the grass.

Now look, I’m not talking about pullin’ a Floyd Mayweather on a 5-pound largemouth. I’m talking about using a really heavy worm weight, Texas rigged to a soft plastic lure to “punch” through thick matted vegetation. And there’s no better time of year than October to take advantage of this big bass producing pattern.

When I say use a heavy weight, I’m talking about a bullet-shaped worm weight that weighs 1 to 2 ounces, with a stout hook tied to 65-pound braided line, and a 7-foot, 6-inch heavy action baitcasting rod. I guess you could say this is kind of the “big and nasty nose guard” pattern. It’s beefy fishing tackle and hand-to-hand combat down in the grassy trenches with big bass.

The reason it’s a great pattern in October is because the aquatic vegetation is as full-grown and tall as it will be all year. In fact, it’s starting to die back just a little, and that creates a matted canopy for the bass to hide under, whether it’s in 2 feet or 20 feet of water, it’s a place where big bass love to live.

The key is to always look for holes in the top of the grass canopy to make short pitches into. Make sure you’re using a fairly small plastic lure like a green pumpkin or black/blue Tube-X from Vertical Lures like the one I’m holding in the photo. Larger lures with lots of appendages tend to snag way more on the vegetation. Your lure, line and overall tackle are fairly simply when “punching.” There’s no need to experiment with tons of different lures, and most of the time, when they bite your “punch rig” it’s a reaction bite as your bait falls through the hole in the vegetation – so be ready.

Another huge key to success is patience. You may pitch a line of vegetation that’s 100 yards long without a bite, and then all of the sudden catch a good fish. That’s when you have to slow down and fish even more thoroughly. Because once you catch that first good keeper, there are probably two or three more good fish in that same little spot. So be patient, and pick apart the area where you get your first good bite, in search of another quality bite or two.

Truth is, there are a bunch of bass fishing patterns that work well in October. But punching is my favorite. It’s right there on my list of October favorites with Sidney Crosby and the Penguins, or Dwayne Haskins and the Buckeyes making a run at their ninth National Championship. But no mater who you cheer for, trust me, if you’re not watching the game, you need be on the water trying to “punch” vegetation for fat largemouth at this time of year.