In September, we’ll go to Bay Springs Lake, which is a clear, deep lake with good-sized largemouths and spotted bass. And since it’s not a very-big lake, it’s much easier to pattern.
September is a difficult time to pattern bass in most lakes because the fish are transitioning from their summer deepwater pattern to their fall pattern.
But I’ve found several ways to catch bass this time of the year at Bay Springs by fishing shallow and deep water rather than choosing one pattern over the other.
Fish topwater and walking lures early
September is one of my favorite months to fish topwater lures. I like to fish two white 3/8-ounce buzz baits: one that runs to the left and the other to the right.
On each buzz bait, I’ll attach a trailer hook because the bass often will strike short and miss the bait without an O’Shaughnessy No. 2 trailer hook. I’ll attach a white 3-inch grub.
Using this type of rig, the trailer hook doesn’t get tangled with the grub like it will if you put the grub on the main hook of the buzz bait.
Although spotted bass are notorious for striking short on a buzz bait, with that trailer hook and grub, my catch rate increases.
I like a Seeker spinnerbait rod with a 7.3:1 Pinnacle reel and 17-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100 percent fluorocarbon line.
I’ll also use a walking bait, like a Zara Spook, with a Seeker fiberglass topwater rod with a 7.3:1 gear ratio and a Pinnacle reel with a 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100 percent fluorocarbon line.
Early in the morning — at first light — I’ll fish the dam area around the lock, the walls of the dam and the barge tie-ups for both largemouths and spotted bass while fishing shallow.
I’ll sometimes catch a smallmouth, but they’re not as plentiful.
On the Zara Spook and the buzz bait, I’ll use a fast retrieve. I’ll have two buzz baits tied onto two rods, and when I get to the right side of the barge tie-up, I’ll fish the buzz bait that runs to the left into that barge tie-up to bounce-off for several retrieves. Then I’ll fish the left-hand side of the tie-up with the buzz bait that runs to the right.
These big-diameter barge tie-ups are made of metal. When that buzzbait hits one, noise and vibrations go deep into the water, causing the bass to come up and attack the lure.
I also target the walls of the lock by casting my Zara Spook close and walking that bait back to the boat with a fast retrieve.
This early-morning bite might last until 8 a.m. Whenever the topwater bite stops, I’ll move to deep water.
Bet on the ledges later in the morning
I’ll move out into the main channel, and fish points and ledges with two different deep-diving crankbaits tied onto two rods.
On one rod, I’ll have the Mann’s Jointed Stretch 20+ crankbait in the shad color, and a Mann’s Jointed Stretch 30+ crankbait also in the shad color on the other rod.
I’m looking for bass out on the ends of points in water 16 to 25 feet deep. These fish still will be on their summer pattern in that deep water. I’m searching for ledges 15 to 18 feet deep on top that might drop off into 20 or 30 feet in the main river channel.
Most of the main-lake points will have that depth of water on their ends, and at first, I’ll fish every point on the lake with a 7-foot-11-inch Seeker fiberglass cranking rod with a 5.5:1 ratio Pinnacle reel and 10-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100 percent fluorocarbon line.
If those two baits don’t produce fish, I’ll have a rod with a ¾-ounce football-head jig tied onto it and drag that jig in 25-foot water or deeper.
To find the bass, I’ll cast perpendicular as well as parallel to the point, and attack that point from every direction until I pinpoint the bass and learn from which direction they want the jig to come.
Sometimes in the middle of the day, especially in hot weather, the bass will move out of the channel, away from the lip of the break, and be in 15 feet of water instead of 25 feet because the shad have moved up. Then, after they’ve fed in that 15-foot-deep water, they’ll back off into the 25-foot-deep water.
I like to use the peanut-butter-and-jelly-colored football-head jig and a twin-tail grub that’s green pumpkin in color as a trailer. I’ll use a Seeker 7-foot-8-inch medium-heavy graphite rod with a 6.4:1 Pinnacle reel and 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100 percent fluorocarbon line.
Do it with a drop shot
If you can see the bass on your depth finder on the deep ends of those points, and they won’t take the crankbaits or the jigs, rig up a drop-shot rig with a ¼-ounce drop-shot weight. Tie the hook about 10 inches above the weight with a wacky worm hook tied to the line. I’ll also use a Mann’s 6-inch green-pumpkin or watermelon-red HardNose Finesse worm and hook it wacky style (in the middle of the worm).
I’ll make a short pitch out to the top of the ledge, let the weight go to the bottom and hop the weight two or three times. If I don’t get a bite, I’ll reel the wacky worm up and pitch it out again, fishing right on the edge of the ledge so the wacky worm will drop over the lip of the break into the channel.
My main line will be 14-pound-test Stren Sonic braid with 4 feet of 18-pound-test Berkley Trilene fluorocarbon line tied to the braid with a uni-knot. I’ll fish the drop-shot rig on a Pinnacle Optimus 40 reel and a Seeker 7 foot, 2 inch medium/heavy graphite spinning rod.
I expect to catch 12 to 15 bass from 1 pound to possibly a 7 or an 8 pounder in a day at Bay Springs. You’ll catch plenty of hefty largemouths and strong-fighting spotted bass.