Right now between Halloween jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, when many anglers have shelved fishing rods to pursue rut-crazed whitetails, it’s an awesome time to tie on a buzzbait, popper or Sexy Dawg because bass are eating shad and skipjack extremely shallow near the surface.
When the water surface temp is 55 degrees – all the way down to about 49 degrees – that’s one of the very best times to catch big bass real shallow with one of these surface lures. In fact, most all of the biggest bass I catch at this time of year are super shallow in about 1 foot of water.
Ideally, shallow secondary points along the main river channel of your favorite reservoir, the shallow tips of an island, or a shallow gravel bar that runs parallel to the shoreline, are the perfect places to look for these mega-shallow late autumn surface bites.
As far as when I choose one of these lures versus the other – basically, it comes down to the speed at which one lure is more suitable than the other based on falling water temps.
So typically that means I’ll start with a buzzbait and Sexy Dawg, and when the water gets closer to 49, I’ll lean on the little popper more because I can work it slower and keep it in the strike zone longer.
I throw the Sexy Dawg a lot when the water temp is still in the mid to high 50s. And one cool thing about this lure is I can work it really aggressively on days when there’s some mild wave action on the surface, or slow down and be subtler with it on flat calm days. I always tie it to 50-pound braided line for further casts and better hooksets at the end of a long cast.
I choose the buzzbait around visible shoreline habitat like a laydown tree or a shallow dock, and if there’s any lure in your tackle box that’s consistently capable of getting you a bite from a really big bass, it’s a buzzbait.
When the water temp gets down around 50 degrees, I use the popper for a slow, finesse-like topwater presentation for some of the last bass living shallow and looking for a meal on the surface before harsher winter temps roll in.
I throw my popper on 15-pound monofilament because a lot of times bass will just barely nip the rear hook of the popper in that colder water, and the monofilament provides just enough stretch to let them get hooked better.
The other thing I’ve noticed is topwater fishing last longer and is more dependable as water temps cool in the fall, compared to similar cooler water temps in early spring. So tie on a topwater, and take advantage of bass fishing’s most exciting bite before pumpkins are out of season and the snow starts to fall.