Swimbaits – Available in hard-body and soft-body models, swimbaits are highly imitative of specific preyfish. Developed on the west coast originally as large lures for large fish, today swimbaits are available in sizes as small as three inches and in shapes that imitate shad, shiners, bluegills, gobies, perch, trout and any other species which bass are fond of eating. Personally, I find soft swimbaits more versatile in terms of coming through shallow cover. However, hardbody swimbaits are equally effective in catching bass. Storm Lures offers a wide range of species specific soft swimbaits. Sebile has outstanding series of both jointed soft and hard Swimmers with impressive imprint patterns, while Strike King offers a paddle tail Shadalicious in a 3.5-inch model that bass everywhere find hard to turn down. The secret to a swimbait is not to over fish it. Simply cast it out, count it down to a desired depth and begin a slow, steady retrieve – and hold tightly to the rod!
Crankbaits – Over the summer, some bass anglers literally wear themselves out cranking big-bill hard baits as deep as possible – in some cases trying to get the lure down to 20 feet or more. It’s a lot of work. But in early fall as more bass are feeding on shad and shiners in shallower water – sometimes only a few feet deep – crankbaiting becomes fun again. Three different crankbaits are the workhorses during early fall: square lip; wake bait; and lipless rattle bait.
Square-lip models come through brush and wood cover with fewer hang-ups because of their greater deflection ability than a rounded-bill crank. Described as a non-diving crankbait, wake baits represent a shad swimming right on the surface. Most lipless rattle baits are sinking models, thereby enabling the angler to adjust running depth based on the speed of retrieve; the bait’s distinctive sound chamber attracts the attention of bass. Strike King, Bomber, XCalibur, Bandit and Rapala are among the firms offering all three of the above crankbait styles.
It is a given that largemouth bass in the early fall are on the trail of schooling preyfish in the majority of reservoirs and natural lakes. But, as also noted previously, there are exceptions. On some waterways the thick mats of vegetation along shore will continue to hold largemouth bass, and the most effective lure to draw them out is a hollow-body frog bait. These frog-shaped lures glide across the surface without gathering strands of weeds. The simple surface disturbance generated by the bait is what the bass keys in on. Frog baits are available from River2Sea, Spro, Southern Lure, Snag Proof and Optimum Baits.
Many anglers think frog lure fishing is a summer-only presentation, but in select waters the technique is effective well into early fall. Some northern anglers point to the annual fall frog migration when amphibians move from wetlands into the muck bottom in a lake’s shallows to hibernate. I’m not arguing one way or the other on the issue, but simply pointing out an exception to the schooling preyfish fishing patterns that most anglers focus on.
You are now primed for fall largemouth bass fishing – go catch ‘em!
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