In the early fall, reservoirs in California start being drawn down and bass begin pulling off the banks and chasing shad. They will find a school of shad and then push them into a pocket, lay into them and then back off again. This is when a topwater lure is at its best. If the water is clear, I opt for a Sammy because of its realistic look. If the there is a chop on the water, then break out the Zara Spook. The Spook will make more noise and draw fish from further away. You can get away with that when the water is choppy or stained. Clear water means breaking out the most realistic topwater lures in your arsenal.
There will be times when neither lure will work. That's when you should try throwing a popper type lure. At these times, the poppers may work better because you can pop it a few times and let it sit. You will be surprised how many strikes you'll get while the lure is sitting still. Keep all three types of topwater lures on the deck during the fall. They each have their place and what the fish want may vary from pocket to pocket.
I have noticed on some lakes there will be a lot of dragonflies around in the early fall. The bass seem to really love eating those and I have tried my best to catch these dragonfly eating fish. It's funny though, I have noticed that if there are red dragonflies, the bass will eat those before they eat the blue of green dragonflies. I have seen blue dragonflies by the hundreds and only a few red dragonflies around but the only ones the bass want are red. When this happens, make sure you have some red on any lure you throw.
Later in the fall, the bass will chase huge balls of tiny baitfish. It's really awesome to watch. The bass will run through the school of baitfish, consuming everything in their path. When this happens, it's time to downsize your topwater lure. One of the best small topwaters I have found is the tried-and-true, Tiny Torpedo.
The Tiny Torpedo is still one of the most effective topwater lures made. It can be worked so many ways and it drives bass crazy. Work it slowly at first, breaking up your rhythm. If that doesn't work, try a more timed cadence and vary your speed until you find just exactly what the fish are looking for.
The only changes I make to the Tiny Torpedo are the hooks. I will usually change the hooks out for Gamakatsu round bend hooks. The sharpness of these hooks will catch more fish because many times the bass just slap at the lure. Beacuse of this, you will catch two to three times more bass with the round bend hooks. This happens a lot with spotted bass and can be very frustrating.
Another thing I like to do with all my topwater lures is to put feathers on the back of them. It may just be a confidence thing, but I like feathers with mylar strips in red or blue on the back of my topwaters. I believe that when the lure is sitting still, the motion of the feathers will draw strikes.
When I'm fishing topwater lures I like to use Stren MagnaFlex line. It's a copolymer green line that has just a little stretch. It works very well is a 7-foot, medium action rod. I used to use fiberglass rods but I got away from them because the lines today are better. I use the G.Loomis Crankbait Series rods the CR843 or CR845. The 845 is better for throwing Spooks and the 843 is great for other topwater lures and for rippin', a real dual purpose rod.
I also will use Berkley's FireLine when I have to make long casts. The lack of stretch helps to ensure a solid hookset.
Another great lure I am using more and more is Berkley's Frenzy Walker and Poppers. The Frenzy Walker makes a very wicked gliding presentation. The best color I have found is the Shore Minnow. When using the Berkley Frenzy Popper, I have found that Gray Ghost or Blue Shiner works best.
The fall is a great time to use jigs, how you use them can be a bit different, though. I'm not a biologist, but I believe that as the lake levels fall, crawdads find themselves high and dry. They start heading downhill towards the falling water only to find some big bass lying in wait. Throwing jigs in the fall can be very productive. One of the better ways to use the jig is to cast parallel to the bank, with the jig actually landing on the bank and slowly work it back towards you.
This will also work with plastic worms in crawdad colors. With the worms, again, cast them onto the bank and drag them slowly into the water. Another thing to consider when these fish are chasing crawdads is using small, crawdad colored, crankbaits. Again, parallel the banks with the lure and let it bounce off the rocks and structure.
Working these baits so close to the bank will draw more strikes than you could imagine. The bass will thump you good. Pumpkin or watermelon colored tubes will also get the job done.
Fishing in the fall is great. The lakes are quieter, the weather is cooler, and the bass are more cooperative. Take your time out on the water this fall and keep your eyes open for what the bass are doing. Are they chasing balls of shad? Are they chasing dragon flys or crawdads? Then, match the hatch and you'll have fun catching bass all day long.
Until next time.