Mike McClelland is one of bass fishing's greatest talents. He's won six B.A.S.S. events in his career, including three Elite Series tournaments. In 2008, he ranked third in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race and he's fished eight Bassmaster Classics, finishing fourth in 2009. Here's one of his favorite patterns for fall bass.
Water temperature: This is not critical as long as it's dropped enough from summertime highs that the shad or other baitfish are moving up into the creeks, onto the flats or are otherwise moving into the shallows.
Water color: 1 1/2 to 2 feet of visibility is ideal, but it can vary from that and still be productive.
Wind/current: Both can be huge. Current can help to position the bass, and wind will break up the surface and cause the fish to be more aggressive.
Structure: Backs of creeks, flats, boat docks or shallows with cover generally.
Cover: Anything that creates a good ambush point for a bass.
Depth: Can vary, but the fish should be holding shallow, even over very deep water.
Lure: 1/2-ounce Screaming Eagle spinnerbait with tandem willowleaf blades. McClelland's favorite color is one he calls "mouse." It's sort of a charcoal gray and does a great job of mimicking shad and a variety of other baitfish.
Rod: 7-foot, 2-inch Falcon Mike McClelland Swim Jig rod (Model MMC-5F-172). It has a medium action and soft tip that gives a little to allows bass to suck the bait in before McClelland sets the hook.
Reel: Quantum Smoke with a 6.6:1 gear ratio or a Quantum XO at 7:1. McClelland is working the spinnerbait fast, and the high gear ratios make that job easier.
Line: Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon in 16- to 20-pound test.
Cast/Flip/Pitch: Precise short to medium casts to cover.
Retrieve: McClelland varies his retrieve with his pattern, but it's always erratic, and he keeps the spinnerbait bouncing off cover whenever possible. He also likes to jerk and twitch the bait during the retrieve, much like when fishing a jerkbait.
Keys to Success
The spinnerbait is not an idiot bait, especially the way McClelland likes to fish it at this time of year. You can't just cast it out and wind it in and expect to have a lot of success. You really need to work it and maximize its action and features as a reaction bait.