By Billy “Hawkeye” Decoteau
The month of October has a seductive way of enticing Bass Anglers to trade in their flipping sticks for shotguns, winterize their bass rigs and start tracking through the open corn fields in search of game birds, testing their reaction time against their feathered friends.
Savvy Bass Anglers on the other hand spend their time scanning their fall fishing logs from previous years, reviewing areas with deep water close to shallow flats that were productive on previous fall outings, as the life cycle of our favorite finned quarry rotates into another fall feeding frenzy.
“I concentrate on two very important factors this time of year,” advises Massachusetts Megabass Man Danny Corriea. (www.megabass.com) “Bass are cold blooded creatures, so consistently cooling water temperatures will telegraph the change in seasons. The second factor is that bass are creatures of habit, similar to deer, with both creatures traveling the same migration routes year after year.” Corriea’s fishing logs record bass school up herding baitfish onto adjacent flats or submerged humps and ridges.
As the change in transitional season’s progresses, (www.marineusainc.com) Marine USA Nitro Pro Staff Captain Mike Mantha utilizes his Lowrance GPS sonar unit (www.lowrance.com) searching the deeper side of submerged weed lines. Running his trolling motor on high Mantha maneuvers his Nitro Z-9 bass boat (www.Nitro.com) along weedy contour lines concentrating in water depths ranging from eight-twelve feet. “This time of year the aquatic vegetation begins to die however there are always greener healthy sections and this is where I’ll slow down and start flipping a jig and pig.”
While flipping a Bass Stalker Black/blue jig paired with a matching Zoom Super Chunk, on an ALL STAR medium-heavy to heavy flipping stick, Mantha always has one eye on his Lowrance sonar. “I’m looking for areas that have a combination of rocks and green vegetation, once I locate an area, I log it into my Lowrance GPS, and then start flipping it from every angle,” suggest the Webster Lake Champion. (www.allstarrods.com)
In the northeast the cooling trend from summer to fall patterns begins to take place in mid-September covering the entire month of October, and Jasper Missouri’s FLW Professional Angler Randy Blaukat says this transitional period occurs every year across the USA. “I agree with Danny, bass anglers need to pay particular attention to cooling water temperatures and especially cooler consistent nighttime temperature trends marking the beginning of the transitional period.” Blaukat also cautions anglers that the beginning of the transition requires savvy anglers to be flexible realizing that not all bass on a body of water, especially large impoundments such as Lake Champlain, will be busting the surface at once!
“Bass migrate to shallow water areas this time of year for the same reasons they do in early spring. These shallow water areas will be the first areas to warm up after the cooler nighttime temperatures,” suggest NASCAR Pro Angler Pete Gluszek. Adding, “Bass tend to snuggle up to wood and rock cover, but if shallow green grass beds can be found, anglers might come across a mother load of bass. The green grass supplies the bass with ample oxygen, causing bass to use this prime cover as a staging and ambush area for baitfish.” Gluszek utilized this pattern to win the FLW Lake Champlain tournament which was held in late September.
Yamaha Outboards Danny Corriea prefers water temperatures ranging between 55-65 degrees. “These temperatures seem to be the most productive, and the best part of the Fall Feeding Frenzy is that the bass become extremely aggressive!”
When the bass are aggressive or schooling both Megabass Pros Blaukat and Corriea suggest bass anglers equip themselves with fast moving baits. “Such as large spinnerbaits burned under the surface or Dog-X topwaters for explosive surface strikes, suggest Corriea. Blaukat adds, “If the bass are following your baits but refusing to engulf it, switch to either a Vision or ‘X’ series minnow bait, and don’t hesitate to follow up with a Cyclone or Griffon crankbait.”
“Spinnerbaits can be absolutely tremendous when retrieved with high speed gear ratio reels. Be sure to run your spinnerbait just under the surface or over submerged grass beds,” says Massachusetts’s Danny Corriea! “But, always attach a trailer hook, for short strikes. This will increase your hook-up percent and at times you just might end up with a double,”
When it comes to color choice for spinnerbaits when targeting smallmouth bass, Correia has just one suggestion, “Chartreuse with Chartreuse blades!” Due to their low stretch characteristics, Danny Corriea, spools either Seaguar Fluorocarbon line or Power Pro braided line (www.powerpro.com) to his high speed Shimano reels, and then attaches his Fleck chartreuse spinnerbait with double large Colorado chartreuse blades.
Corriea adds, “Anglers need to make long cast, so it’s advisable that they equip themselves with a long spinnerbait or crankbait rod!” Working rock shoals, humps, sunken islands, or windy shorelines, Corriea launches his spinnerbaits via a MegaBass Destroyer rod. “Once the bait hits the water, start reeling as fast as you can, if those smallmouths are in the area they will hammer your spinnerbait within the first 10-15 feet of the retrieve.”
“It’s important for anglers to keep on-the-water daily logs; including water temperatures, aggressiveness of the bass, cover bass were relating to, water depth most bass came from, productive baits, and weather conditions,” says Vertical Jigs (www.verticallures.com) Pete Gluszek. “This will help anglers stay in tune with what’s happening in the underwater world of the bass. As the bite slows down, anglers need to adjust with changes in their presentations.”
“Pete is right on target, as anglers move from faster baits like spinnerbaits or crankbaits to slower presentations with worms and jigs flipped tight to wood and rock cover, water temperature will be the key to their success,” claims two-time reigning International World Bass Champion Danny Corriea.
When a slower more precise presentation is required Marine USA, Inc. Nitro Pro Angler Mike Mantha (www.mercurymarine.com) rigs up an ALL STAR Carolina rod and starts dragging ledges of contour lines indicating rocky transitions with a Zoom 6-8” lizard to keep his Nitro livewells flowing. New Jersey’s Pete Gluszek positions his NASCAR Ranger Bass boat along channel edges and deeper outside weed lines while monitoring his Garmin sonar.(www.garmin.com) “My Garmin color unit is extremely accurate at helping me locate isolated patches of deep grass, wood or rock piles. These are the first and last places bass will migrate to when they begin to school up and go on their annual Fall Feeding Frenzy,” suggests Gluszek. Gluszek will drag and hop a variety of Vertical Lures X-jigs until he finds the size and color the bass prefer. Danny Corriea and Randy Blaukat, turn to rigging a Megabass Destroyer rod with Seaguar Fluorocarbon line (www.Seaguar.com) when they can’t find an aggressive bite turning to more vertical deeper presentations. “My go to drop-shot bait is a Zoom Finesse worm usually in green pumpkin set at six-eight inches up from the bottom weight,” says Corriea, who by the way utilized this technique to win an early season cooler water Bassmaster tournament on Lake Martin, AL.
As the water temperature settles into the low 50 degree range the aggressiveness of the bass will also slow down signaling the transitional movement towards colder wintertime deep water lethargic staging areas. This is when all four Pro Anglers turn to vertical jigging spoon techniques. With his patented Marlbourgh, Massachusetts smiling grin Danny Corriea laughed, “This is when I turn to my Deer Hunting Patterns!!!”
God Bless and Best Bass’n