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 Strike King Spit-N-King (www.strikeking.com), another highly productive top-water bait, especially if the water’s extremely clear, will be hard to beat for bass fishing in the fall and early winter.
In clear water at this time of the year, I catch more bass on the Spit-N-King than I do on the buzzbait. In clear water, you need a bait that’s more subtle than you’ll fish if the water’s stained, and the Spit-N-King is a more-subtle bait than the buzzbait. For my retrieve, I like a three-pop cadence. I pop the bait three times, then stop the bait and give it three more quick pops. Sometimes the bass want the lure retrieved faster than this, so I’ll speed-up the lure and barely stop it between pops. Then the bait will spit all the way back to the boat. But fishing the Spit-N-King is much like fishing the buzzbait. You need to experiment with various kinds of retrieves, instead of fishing the lure one way the entire day.
One of the best tips I can give for fishing the Spit-N-King successfully at this time of year is to fish it around cover, like boat docks, stumps and logs. When the Spit-N-King reaches where you think the strike zone is located on that cover, stop the bait, and give the bass a chance to eat it. I often will stop the bait for 3 or 4 seconds, which may not seem like a long time. But if you’ll keep an eye on your watch for those 3 or 4 seconds, you’ll realize that the time that passes is much longer than most fishermen let their top-water lures sit on the water without moving them. Most of the time a really big bass will eat the bait just as you get ready to move it.
If the bass are feeding aggressively, I’ll speed up my retrieve.
If the day is cloudy or misty, and the bass are feeding aggressively, I’ll speed up my retrieve. If I’m fishing later in the morning or on a bright day, I may slow-down my retrieve. Don’t overlook the weather conditions when you’re trying to determine what type of retrieve to give the Spit-N-King in cool and cold weather.
I like any of the shad-colored Spit-N-Kings, but lately, I’ve really liked the chrome sexy shad Spit-N-King. But gizzard-shad and sexy shad colors also work well at this time of year.
I’ll be fishing the Spit-N-King on 17 pound test monofilament line. I almost exclusively fish that weight and type of line when I’m fishing the Spit-N-King. For this lure, I’ll shorten my rod. I love to fish the Spit-N-King and the buzzbait in cooler weather like we’re now experiencing.
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.
About the Author
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.