John’s Note: When we asked two of the nation’s top bass fishermen, Denny Brauer of Camdenton, Missouri, 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, although 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 the pros why, what lures we should fish, and how to fish those lures. Although Denny Brauer, one of the most-successful tournament bass fishermen in the world, is now retired, his fishing prowess is renowned from fishing the Bassmaster and other tournament circuits.
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 (www.strikeking.com). 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 good 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.
To learn more about bass fishing, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks and some print books, “How to Bass Fish Like a Pro,” “How to Win a Bass Tournament,” “Catch the Most and Biggest Bass in Any Lake: 18 Pro Fishermen’s Best Tactics, “Hot Weather Bass Tactics” and “How to Become A Tournament Bass Fisherman.” Click here to get these books.
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors.