Last time we talked about football being out for the most part this year, and bass fishing being in for the whole part. We were talking about fall, though. Right now it’s more like late summer, and that’s a different game. Let’s talk about what that really means.
We’ll start with the obvious: Late summer is a tough time to bass fish. Many of the fish are suspended, and they’re about as hard to catch as it gets. At the same time others are super deep. Still others are shallow. Along with all of that a fair number of bass are relating to structure.
Like I said — tough fishing. But, at the same time that presents us with a wealth of opportunity. It’s a matter of the glass being half full instead of half empty.
When it comes to shallow bass there’s no better way to target them than with a topwater bait. These bass know that it’s getting cooler and that the days are getting shorter. The baitfish are moving shallow, and the bass are following them. My bait choices for this kind of fishing run through just about all the topwater baits you can find.
Buzzbaits, Whopper Ploppers, Zara Spooks, frogs, toads and Pop-Rs will all get their attention. The trick to being successful is to alternate your topwater offerings until you start getting bites. Not every lure will do that. Sometimes they want a little noise, and sometimes they want things soft and subtle. It’s our job to figure that out.
I’m not going to tell you there are any hard and fast rules, but here’s the way I select my baits, at least to start. Buzzbaits are good around light cover. Whopper Ploppers cover bare banks really well and a Zara Spook or a Pop-R can be the deal when you’re targeting weed lines.
Another great bait this time of year — for bass holding at almost any depth — is a crankbait. The key to being successful with them is to make sure there are baitfish around. There is something about the vibration of a crankbait in the fall that gets their attention.
At SPRO we have a complete line of crankbaits that’ll cover most every depth you’ll be fishing. When they aren’t too deep I really like a Little John. It’s a great fall lure, and because the water is clear in most lakes and rivers in the late summer and early fall, they can see it from a ways away as well as feel it.
The last bait — really a technique — I want to mention is a drop shot. Fishing it this year could be especially productive for a couple of reasons. Because of the mess we’re in right now a lot of anglers have had extra time to fish. That means the bass have been pressured all year. They might be a little skittish. A drop shot is about as subtle and natural as you can get.
The other thing is that it can be fished at any depth, depending on how you rig it.
I use spinning tackle for this technique, and I pay special attention to the color of the baitfish. It seems like that matters more with a drop shot than it does with some other lures. It’s critical that you match the hatch. My preference is a bait and color we make here at Missile Baits called the Bomb Shot in Fisholicious. It’s a universal, soft smoke color with a little purple fake mixed into it.
Approach the late summer with a positive attitude, and give these three baits a chance. I’m guessing you’ll be glad you did.