Walking into fall


Bassmaster Marshal

It’s already starting to turn a little cool in the northern parts of the country, and it won’t be long before the same thing happens everywhere. That’s nothing but good news for most bass anglers. The fall migration and feed is on the way. It’s one of my most favorite times of the year to bass fish.

One of the really cool things about fall is that it’s the best time for catching high numbers of bass. They move shallow into predictable and easy to find areas and they eat like crazy. But, what a lot of anglers don’t realize is that the fall is a great time to catch giants.

Catching them is not so much about location. That’s the easy part. You’ll find them in the same places the smaller bass are inhabiting. It’s the lure that matters, and that lure is frequently a topwater plug. For some reason the bigger fish like to trap their prey against the surface.

My favorite fall topwater plug, and my first choice most days, is a hard, floating stickbait that’ll walk. There’s something about that back and forth gliding motion that drives bass wild. I personally think that it looks like a baitfish swimming along the surface skimming for food. Other guys think differently, though. They think it doesn’t look like anything to a bass other than an opportunity. Either way, the bass definitely like the presentation.

There are dozens of these baits on the market. Every major lure maker has one and there’s no telling how many handmade ones are out there. Most of them are really good lures. My preference is for the Rapala Skitter V. It’s the right size for my style of bass fishing, and it walks easy.

Easy walking is important but in truth walking the dog isn’t all that tough. I’m not going to tell you how to do it here it because there are a ton of videos on the Internet that can show you how to do it better than I can tell you in words, and they’ll give you super good information about equipment. Make sure the videos are made by Bassmaster Elite Series anglers and are sponsored by reputable companies. Then check a few of them out.

Beyond what you learn from the videos, however, you should remember that how you maneuver the bait is critical. Sometimes they like it slow and quiet. At other times fast and noisy is the ticket. And, less frequently, a stop and go retrieve will get them going. In almost every case, though, a steady and measured cadence is better than an erratic one.

Just because I’ve been talking about walking sticks doesn’t mean they’re the only lures you can walk. You can walk most poppers, prop baits and even floating minnows. They won’t do it as effortlessly and as enticingly as a stick, but they will do it.

If you’re looking for bigger bass this fall, try fishing on top with something that’ll walk.

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website, mikeiaconelli.com.