Nation preview: Consistency in the backwaters

HARTFORD, Conn. — The arrival of autumn will expand the playing field during the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Divisional on the Connecticut River, Sept. 16-18.

“The Connecticut River is a pretty diverse fishery,” said Bassmaster Elite Series competitor Paul Mueller.

“If we get a cold snap, it will really put fish into a fall pattern and you will see some smallmouth come into play in the main river. If you find them, you can do really well.

“The backwaters will come into play no matter what the weather, but the backwaters will definitely be stronger with warm, stable weather,” Mueller added. “The river is pretty dynamic. For a multi-day tournament, I don’t think an angler can win off of one area. I think he will have to have multiple areas and will have to fish the tide.”

The Connecticut pro favors throwing a walking-style topwater bait and shallow- or medium-diving crankbaits for the smallmouth on the main river. He also likes throwing plastic frogs or Chatterbaits in the main river grass for brown bass.

If the weather remains warm during the divisional, some smallmouth can be taken dragging tubes in deep water eddies. “They are a very hard fish to target then because they are constantly moving with the forage,” he said.

Largemouth bass in the backwaters will provide the most consistent action if the weather remains stable. Mueller opts for swim jigs, Chatterbaits, Senkos and shaky head plastic worms, which he throws around marina docks, rocks and wood cover.

River facts

River length — 410 miles

Forage base — American and hickory shad, golden shiners, yellow perch and bluegill

Expected water clarity — 2 to 3 feet in the main river and 4 feet in the backwaters

Dominant structure/cover — milfoil, lily pads, wood, eelgrass, rocks, gravel bars

Predicted winning weight  31 pounds