Hunting in October? Hunting for bass, maybe. October is one of the best months to catch a lot of bass, and an excellent time to land one worth bragging about. Cool waters and pleasant weather make bass feed and makes it an enjoyable time to be on the water.
Bass move to the shallows to feed in October and offer you a good chance to find them in easy to locate cover. It is more fun to cast to shallow cover and, if you use the right baits, you can have some amazing catches. Water is usually clear this time of year, making it easy for bass to find your baits but also making it more important to offer them something natural that looks like food since they can get a better look at your bait.
Bass will seek rocks, brush piles, docks and blowdowns in October where they can hide and find the food they like. They feed on baitfish and crawfish, storing up fat for the cold weather to come. Baits that imitate their favorite food improve your odds of catching them.
Soft plastics are a perfect choice for those conditions. You can choose a color that works best in the water you are fishing and a size that the bass will eat. But walk into any bait and tackle store and the choices you have can be overwhelming.
A soft plastic jerk bait like a Zoom Fluke is hard to beat right now. They come in colors that look like the baitfish in your lake and you can fish them in a wide variety of ways. And, like other soft plastics, they are fairly weedless, making it easy to fish them around cover without constantly getting hung up.
The most common way to fish a soft jerk bait is weightless, with a hook Texas rigged in them. Since the baits are fairly bulky a wide gap 4/0 hook is best. You can leave the hook exposed on the tip if fishing rocks or bury it lightly in the back of the bait to come through wood. Tie the hook directly to the line or use a swivel a foot or so ahead of it to add a little weight and reduce line twist.
Cast the bait out and let it sink a foot or so deep, then work it over cover with twitches of your rod tip. Since you can see the bait you can find out how to make it dart from side to side, walking the dog with it, and letting it sink slowly between twitches, imitating a injured or dying baitfish. And it is exciting to see the bass come up and eat it.
Also try the bait on a jig head or with a bullet weight ahead of it. This makes the bait sink to the bottom where you can hop it slowly or crawl it along. Many kinds of baitfish feed on the bottom with their tail up so a jig head makes the bait show this action to the bass. A bullet weight will make the bait lay flatter on the bottom so hopping it will look like a baitfish struggling to swim up and bass love an easy meal.
Fish weighless soft jerkbaits over brush piles and around dock posts where bass hide waiting on a meal. Start with a very slow action, jerking the bait then letting it sink a foot or so. If the bass don’t like this, speed up your retrieve until you find the speed the bass want. Under some conditions you want to fish the bait as fast as you can reel and jerk it, especially on windblown rocky banks.
Work the jig head or bullet weigh rig on rocks and hard bottom banks and points. Bass often eat crayfish on this kind of cover but will not pass up and easy baitfish meal. Go with as light a jig head or weigh as you can fish under the conditions.
A Texas rigged four or five inch finesse type worm is also a good soft plastic to use now. Texas rig a French Fry or straight worm with a 2/0 hook behind a 3/16s ounce sinker and cast it to wood or rock cover. The small bait looks like young baitfish or crayfish that feed on the bottom so choose a dark color like Junebug or green pumpkin.
For some reason there are days, especially in clear water, when the bass want a small bait. And don’t think only small bass will eat a small worm. Big bass will inhale a finesse type worm if they think it is an easy meal.
Try sliding the worm along gravel or other hard bottoms like a crayfish crawling along, then hop it to make it look like the crawfish was startled and tried to get away. The straight worm may not look like much to you, but bass sometimes find them irresistible. Square ends or pointed ends seem not to matter but try both kinds to let the bass choose.
These baits also work well around brush and blowdowns. Very weedless, you can work them through the thickest cover without getting hung up. Crawl them over limbs and branches then let them fall back into the thickest cover. Jiggle the bait on the bottom then pull it over the next limb. It takes some practice to know when a bass is holding the bait rather than a limb, but if you feel mushy resistance set the hook and reel hard to get the fish out of the cover.
Carolina rig a small worm behind a heavy sinker for fishing in the wind or when you want to move the bait faster. For fishing wood cover a short leader a foot or so long is best but you can use longer leaders when fishing more open bottoms. The lead will stir up the bottom and make noise, attracting the bass, and the following soft plastic worm looks like an easy meal.
Putting the small worm on a jig head and fishing it on light line is a great choice in clear water. This type of finesse fishing often results in bites when all else fails, and you can leave the hook exposed for easier hookups or bury it in the worm for fishing cover. Throw the jig head worm around any kind of cover that holds bass and you will get bit.
On the opposite end of the size spectrum, try a big worm like a Zoom Old Monster. A 10 or 11 inch worm will look like a filling meal to a bass, and many baitfish have grown big during the summer so there is a lot of food that is fairly big this time of year. Texas rig the big worm on a light bullet sinker for fishing brush and blowdowns or go heavier to get down into them on windy days.
Many big worms had ribbon tails that swim with movement, looking like fins of baitfish. As you bring the worm over a limb and let it fall it looks like food trying to get into thick cover. Swimming it along rocks and other hard bottoms looks like a cruising baitfish. Try a steady swimming action right on the bottom or hop it and let it fall back.
For faster fishing try a Carolina rigged monster worm. Shorter leaders up to 18 inches long make it easier to cast. You can fish the bait faster, covering more water to find feeding fish. And separating the worm and the lead sometimes makes the bass more willing to hit it.
Some colors that work well look nothing like a baitfish to us, but bass seem to like them. Reds and purples with green or blue flakes to give flash can be the best colors to use this time of year. The clear water lets the flakes flash and attract bass. Adding a little chartreuse to the tail will also look like the tips of baitfish tails and fins as they reflect sunlight.
A jig is just a jig until you add a soft plastic trailer, making a jig and pig that is a great big bass bait. And few baits look as much like a crawfish as a jig and pig, and big bass love crayfish. You can fish a jig and pig around any kind of cover and catch all sizes of bass, but you improve your odds of hooking the biggest bass in the area.
Trailers for jigs come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. From straight tail chunks to those with swimming tails, all work well. You can even get trailers that look exactly like a crawfish. And baits like the Big Bite Flying Squirrel have tails that float up from the jig, imitating the pinchers of a crawfish waving in the water in the defensive posture bass often see from a crawfish just before they eat it.
Rig the trailer on either a plain jig head or one dressed with a skirt and hop it along the bottom. Let the bait sit between hops. Crawfish often move in spurts then pause before moving again. When you hit any kind of cover, from wood to rocks, let the bait sit and temp any bass hiding there.
Put the Flying Squirrel on a straight jig head and hop it along the bottom. When you pause it between hops the tails will float up and wave in the water, and action bass love. Pick a dark color with lighter patches on the tails or dye the tips of the tails with a bright color that will attract attention.
You can use any color trailer on a jig but browns in clear water and either black or blue in stained water are the usual choices. Match the plastic trailer to the color of the jig or contrast with it, putting a brown or blue trailer on a black jig or black trailer on a brown jig. The colors seem to be more important to the fisherman than the bass.
Choose a soft plastic bait in the fall and you will be fishing a bait that the bass will love. Rig one kind and fish it all day, or have a variety of different shapes and sizes of baits on several rods to find out which one the bass prefer on the day you are fishing. Without soft plastics in the fall you are limiting your options and lowering your chances of catching bass.
A Zoom Fluke is very versatile bait that is hard to beat in the fall. They come in just about any color you want to fish and in several sizes to match the size of the baitfish bass are eating. And they are fun to fish since you can work them just under the surface and see bass come up and inhale them.
When a bass takes a Fluke don’t set the hook immediately. It is hard not to jerk back when you see the fish hit, but pause and drop your rod tip, then set the hook. The pause makes sure the bait is in the fishes mouth deep enough so you will get a good hookset.
Fish the Fluke on 10 to 12 pound test fluorocarbon line. The invisible line improves your chances of getting bit and the lack of stretch helps setting the hook.