I’ve been seriously bass fishing for over 45 years. During that time span I’ve caught bass in every conceivable way and under every kind of condition. I thought that there was nothing new to experience until this October.
About mid-October I was fishing a secondary point on Lake Jacksonville when I spotted Frank Lusk and Mike Smith fishing a main lake point close by. It soon became apparent that they were catching a lot of bass. Lusk waved at me, and I eased over to where they were fishing.
Lusk was fishing a Sammy top water. The Sammy is very similar to a Zara Spook but much slimmer. As I began to talk to them they were steadily catching bass. Catching bass on a top water isn’t that unusual in the fall, but the depth they were fishing over was.
The two were fishing in 35 to 40 feet of water with a top water bait. The bass were in a small area suspended just under the surface. We did see a few bass bust shad on the top occasionally, but there was very little schooling activity.
Frank said that they had been catching over 50 bass per day for the last three days. Evidently the shad and bass were packed on the outside edge of this main lake point and in certain spots out over deep water. Frank was using an Academy H20 bait that resembled a Lucky Strike® Sammy in a Sexy Shad pattern. They caught fish all day long in this area.
A week later Dave Nichols and I returned to the area and immediately started catching bass on the Sammy-type lure on this point. Soon afterwards the wind died and the lake surface became slick. That’s when the bite died on our top waters.
Normally under these conditions it’s harder to get the bass to react. That’s when I switched to a Strike King Shadalicious 3.5” swim bait in a Sexy Shad color. I rigged this bait on a 4/0 hook with a 3/32 belly weight. The secret to fishing this bait was to fish it fast just under the surface. Under calm conditions you can make this bait “wake.” You wake the bait by reeling just fast enough to make the water bulge at the surface. In the fall this is a prime way to catch bass under calm conditions.
We continued fishing the same area over the 35 to 40 foot range. In about four hours we landed about 70 bass. Yes, I said 70 bass.
I told Nichols that no one would believe that you could catch that many bass with a bait skimming just under the surface in 40 feet of water. This was a first for me. The shad remained stacked up in this area and so did the bass.
I’ve caught bass on this Shadalicious bait but mostly around depths less than 10 feet. About three years ago in October I was catching a lot of bass on this bait on the north end of Lake Jacksonville where the water is very shallow.
All the bass are not in the back of creeks. There are always some deep water bass on points this time of year. I try to follow the shad this time of year and so do the bass. Baitfish bunch up this time of year. You have to locate the baitfish. The rest is easy because the bass are feeding heavy now. On some days you can catch bass off and on all day long. I love the fall!
I don’t know how long this deep water pattern will hold up. A few weeks before this incident the bass were stacked up at the dam in shallow water. Each week they migrated further up the west bank going mostly from point to point and schooling heavily. These bass are constantly on the move. They may eventually migrate up a creek. If the surface temperature suddenly drops I imagine they will move deeper. Only time will tell.
Jerry Miller can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org