Fall Tactics and Tips

Fall Tactics and Tips

With fall fishing just around the corner most anglers will make a drastic change in presentation. We will move from slow moving baits to power fishing with fast moving baits and aggressive top water lures!

A few of my favorite presentations are crank baits, spinner baits and top water lures over the grass that is eroding away from the change in weather.   As the grass starts to break up exposing open water the bass will be looking up for food; when this happens I’ll start rolling a big spinner bait or True Bass Swim Bait over the grass again. I like to make erratic moves with the rod to attract reaction bites. If you roll the bait just on top of the grass yet under the water, the slightest change in the rod will cause a change in the action of the bait.  The result of the movement will cause the swim bait or spinner bait to pause, drop or flutter giving the lure a more natural presentation.

For many years,  I have fished a dual willow leaf spinner bait in the fall as it gives you more flash and flutters down better than a combination of Colorado blades or one of each; you can also rip it out of the grass easier and cause more reaction with dual willow leaf blades . Colorado blades add more vibration but to me flash attracts more bites during the fall than any of the other combinations of blades.

As the bass move shallow for the fall feeding frenzy, and the grass continues to erode, you will find yourself fishing stump fields on flats and creeks.  Another advantage of dual willow blades is they bounce off of wood much easier than Colorado blades do, you can also rip the blade over stumps and drop them from one side to another around the stumps.

I also like searching with swim baits in the fall. They allow you to follow the same philosophy easily, using big swim baits to find bigger fish and downsizing to find bites. It is also a great presentation to search different depths as swim baits are easily counted down to different depths to find fish that will react while suspending.

Top Water lures are not created equal and if you are looking for just bites it is different than searching for big bites, especially in the fall!  As a general rule, big fish require big search baits, small fish hit on smaller search baits. I also feel strongly that searching for fish in the fall is different than in the summer or even the spring.  One of the most versatile baits ever made is the Zara Spook.  If you’re looking for tournament size fish you can search with super spook or if you’re just fishing for bites you can down size to a spook junior with the same presentation.

Lastly but absolutely not least is crank baits such as a Rapala DT 6 or lipless crankbaits such as a XR-50 or 75.  One key to crank baits is working the proper angles and using the grass edges to create a reaction bite. You should not just work the crank bait and achieve the results by lining up and working your crank bait at a 90 degree angle, I experienced some of the best results come when working crank baits at a  30 to 45 degree angle off the grass edges. There are two reasons for this: first, you should be just ticking the last edge of grass with your crank bait, this allows you to rip it over the last drop-off at the edge and cause a reaction bite. Second, the 45 degree angles gives the bass an opportunity to follow your bait and this, combined with a long cast, will keep the lure in the “Strike Zone”

Jake Mullins from Mississippi with two 5 pound gunterville largemouth caught on a Tightline Big Hooker Jig while fishing with Capt Jake Davis Mid South Bass Guide (713x950)

   Capt. Jake Davis is a USCG Licensed Professional Fishing Guide on Guntersville Lake, Normandy Lake and Tim’s Ford Lake; to reserve your “Day on the Lake,” visit www.midsouthbassguide.com or call/email (615) 613-2382 msbassguide@comcast.net

Guntersville Lake – Frog Fishing 101

Frog Fishing 101 – Guntersville Lake

   With over 35 years of fishing all over the world under my belt, the one thing I have found to be a constant rush is top water fishing with frogs or rats.  Whether it’s in lily pads, duckweed, slimy black moss of winter or the fall grass mats there is nothing like the explosive action of a bass slamming a frog.   While most people think frog fishing is simply a “fall” pattern you can almost always find a top water frog bite someplace on most lakes in the south.Frog time

   Let’s look at Lake Guntersville, over the past 4 years she has been rated between #3 and #6 of the best 100 lakes in the country by Bass Masters for its ability to produce largemouth year round.  More recently, Guntersville has been rated the #1 Bass Fishing Lake in the country by Wired2Fish.com…At just over 67,000 acres, Guntersville has often been referred to as the jewel of the south, especially when it comes to Frog or Rat fishing and the fall is the best!

  First and foremost is the proper equipment.  I use and supply my client with 7’ to 7’6” Heavy to Extra Heavy Duckett Micro Magic Rods, weight of the rods depends on the cover.  LEW’s Speed Spool Reels 7.1-1 or 6.4-1 at a minimum and lined with 50-65 pound test Vicious Braid.  Don’t know how to use a bait casting reel, not an issue, a professional bass guide can teach you in about 15 minutes. My choice of “Frogs” is PRO-Z Hollow Body Frogs. In various colors but with White (Leopard, Green Tree Frog, Brown or Black Yellow being the most predominate.

  Second, finding the proper area that will afford the angler the best opportunity, in other words where the bluegills, shad and other bass forage are.  Some things to look for as you travel the lake include blackbirds or herons in reeds, lily pads or along the shore.  Dragonflies are another good indicator as they are food for other bass forage.  In the spring listen for the live frogs in the backs of coves.  In the late summer thru fall look for those little black or white flies (gnats) that normally relate to grass mats.  As you are fishing an area listen for bait fish such as bluegill or shad plucking insects off the bottom of the grass or lily pads.  This will sound like a bowl of “Rice Krispies” with milk for breakfast…when you hear this there is most likely bass in the area!

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  Third, is grass!  In the early spring look for new growth of duckweed and lily pads in the back of creeks and coves.  These areas are used as nurseries for frogs and bluegill.  Some of the best areas will have last year’s milfoil floating or caught on old lily pad stems.  Perfect hiding places for Ms Bucketmouth to ambush unsuspecting prey. Over the summer months, I focus most of my time on lily pads that are flowering out.  The rich smell of nectar attracts flies and other insects which in turn attracts bluegill, small birds and shad all of which are perfect food of bass. Starting at the end of July till Mid November the most well known time for frog fishing, some of the best areas are yellow or brown slime over milfoil.  This will resemble burnt cheese as if you over cooked it in a skillet.  In this situation look for what we call blow holes, areas where bass have come through the grass to eat.  This can be critical as bass will usually stay in a general location as long as there is food.  This pattern will only improve as the water temperatures drop in the fall sometimes as little as 5 or 10 degrees. Winter time, look for that black slimy hair like stuff that collects next to the banks.  This slime will warm fast in sunlight drawing bait fish, which in turn you guessed it the bass follow.   

  The “retrieve” before you make that first cast, check your drag!  It should tightened down almost all the way.  Second, trim the legs of the frog to about 1 inch and place a rattle inside the frog.  While there are several types of retrieves, I use two primary retrieves to locate and catch fish under heavy cover.  To locate and cover vast amounts of grass I use a steady pull and stop retrieve.  (Keep in mind I normally have clients with me and my primary mission is not to hook up a fish but rather get the fish to show themselves)  Now, the preferred way in which most of the fish are caught is to work the frog with short pops or jerks or the rod tip down for about 12 to 18 inches, stop for a second and repeat.  If you get your frog next to or in a blowhole stop and simply twitch the lure.  Using this retrieve you are imitating a shad or frog hung up on the surface of the grass.   

  The hook set, I always explain to my clients to say the following phrase to themselves “one, two, set the hook” or as soon as you feel the fish.  All the while you are looking for the frog.  If the frog is still on the water leave it for a second and simply twitch the frog, the beast should return for a snack. Again, it is important to keep your rod tip low to the water.  By doing this your line recovery with the swing of the rod upward increases three fold.  Thus, turning the fish and bringing him to the surface of the grass.  If you miss the hook set, throw back in the same location and hang on, normally the fish will return.  

  Try these simple techniques on your next trip.  If you’re still having issues, you can learn a lot on the day on the lake with a Professional USCG Licensed Guide. Capt Jake Davis, Lake Guntersville, Mid South Bass Guide, www.midsouthbassguide.com or call me on my cell at (615) 613-2382