Editor’s Note: When we asked two of the nation’s top bass fishermen, former Bassmaster Classic winners Denny Brauer of Del Rio, Texas, and Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Arkansas, to give our readers the best information on how to catch bass at this time of the year, they somewhat surprised us when they both named the buzzbait, a top-water lure, as their number-one choice for late fall and wintertime bass fishing. They also selected other baits. Many people don’t realize that in the late fall and the early winter, bass still will take top-water lures. We’ve asked these pros why and what lures we should fish, and how to fish those lures. Denny Brauer discusses fall buzzbaiting for bass first.
When I go to a lake, I don’t have any rules for the way I’ll be fishing that day. The only rule I try to follow is not to get stuck using only one type of retrieve. You have to experiment with any bait, every day you’re on the water, and give the lure the chance to work for you. If you don’t experiment with your retrieves, you may as well suck your thumb and say, “Okay, if the bass won’t take this lure on a fast retrieve, I just won’t catch them, and I’ll go home.”
My first lure choice for bass fishing in the late fall will be the Strike King Tour Grade Buzzbait (https://www.strikeking.com/products/38-oz-tour-grade-buzz-bait). At this time of year, as the water cools down, a large number of bass will be moving-up on the flats to feed. They also will be on the creek channels and in the backs of coves. The bass will be concentrated in those places, because they’re following the baitfish that are moving into shallow water. Since the water’s cooling-down from the warm temperatures of the fall in the United States, the bass have become active and are willing to chase bait.
With the buzzbait, you can cover plenty of water and find bass more quickly than you can with slower-moving baits. The buzzbait mimics the shad as well as any-other bait. I prefer the sexy-shad-colored buzzbait, because it more resembles a shad than the standard white-colored buzzbait that most fishermen have fished for years.
Later in the fall, if the weather cools down more, you may consider switching to a black-colored Tour Grade Buzzbait. I’ll take a magic marker and darken the blades and the wire shaft that supports the blade to take the shine off the buzzbait when it comes out of the box. When the water temperature reaches the mid-to-low 50s, the bass seem to really like the black buzzbait. If you take a sexy-shad- and a black-colored Tour Grade Buzzbait with you, you can fish any water, anywhere in the fall. Although I like fishing chartreuse-colored buzzbaits, I only fish them in muddy water, which generally is a rare situation in the fall of the year.
* What Types of Fall Buzzbait Retrieves to Use:
Most people just cast-out the buzzbait and reel it back in to the boat. But to get the most strikes, you have to experiment with different types of retrieves. You don’t want to get into that robotic mode where you just throw-out the bait and reel it back to the boat. The bass may have taken that buzzbait, if you’d reeled it really fast or very slowly, or made it spit water by giving it an occasional quick jerk. Since the speed of retrieve is very important to success when fishing the buzzbait, experiment with your retrieve. Let the bass tell you by the number of strikes you get which type of retrieve they prefer on the day you’re fishing.
A retrieve that works well for me in the fall is to run the buzzbait fairly fast, until I reach a piece of cover. Then I slow-down the bait as I go by the cover and speed-up the bait as I leave the cover. I’m convinced that the secret to catching bass on a buzzbait at this time of year is to fish the buzzbait with a wide variety of retrieves and not to just cast out the bait and use a single retrieve.
* Why You Need a Trailer Hook on a Buzzbait:
The Strike King buzzbait comes with a trailer hook on it. Don’t take off that trailer hook, which is an important piece of the equipment. You’ll get short strikes at this time of year, and the trailer hook drastically will increase the number of bass you hook. You won’t get hung-up any more using a trailer hook than you will if you don’t have a trailer hook. Strike King has added the trailer hook to the bait to help you catch more bass.
* What Equipment Works Best with the Buzzbait:
When fishing the buzzbait, I prefer 17-20 pound-test monofilament line. If you like to fish braided line, you can. However, I’ve found that braided line, since it doesn’t have any stretch, tends to cause me to pull the bait away from the bass more often than monofilament line does. So, if you’ll be fishing with braided line, use a softer-tipped rod. I like to fish the buzzbait on a long rod and a fast-retrieve reel, because it makes buzzbait fishing much easier, without having to turn the handle a number of times.
To learn more about bass fishing, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “How to Bass Fish Like a Pro,” at http://amzn.to/YpoJvD, available in Kindle and print versions, and Click here for the Audible link. You may have to copy and paste this click into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read 10% of the book for free).
Tomorrow: Denny Brauer Likes the Spit-N-King for Fall and Winter Bass