In October, I'll head to Lake Ferguson, an oxbow off the Mississippi River near Greenville. I know I chose Ferguson for some of the best September fishing. But the bass fishing is very good there in October also.

The Mississippi River has been high for several months, but is receding. When the oxbows flood, the water inundates new ground, and runs into the willow trees. The bass follow the water, and feed heavily during those flooding conditions.

As the river recedes, the bass pull back and hold in the oxbows. Those annual floods seem to regenerate the lakes with more and bigger bass. In October, the water will be cooler, the bass will be bigger, and the bait should be abundant.

I'll concentrate on fishing cover like barges, docks and rocky banks - all in shallow water. Plenty of bluegills and shad will be running the edges of the barges and their shady sides and around the docks and the rocks in October.

Although you won't locate a lot of barges to fish in Ferguson in October, I prefer these isolated barges, which will cause the bass to concentrate. If you're coming out of the bank and moving toward the main river, you'll see about a 1/2-mile stretch with barges. Fish them. Some of these barges have been in the same locations for several years, and others are either being loaded or moved into the region.

You won't experience much fishing pressure on Ferguson in October since football and bow seasons are starting.

This month, I'll be fishing square-billed crankbaits like Mann's C4, buzz baits or walking baits, such as Zara Spooks, and/or spinnerbaits - old standards for river fishing. Also, plenty of new lures on the market and new tactics for catching bass will work.


I like the Mann's C4 or any type of square-billed crankbait that produces vibration. River fish, like the ones you'll find at Lake Ferguson, really prefer a wide-wobbling crankbait in October. The bass in this oxbow will act and react the same way river fish will.

My favorite-colored crankbait is blue/black with a chartreuse belly, always productive for me, especially in a square-billed crankbait. The square-billed crankbait puts out more vibration, and runs somewhat more shallow than a round crankbait does. It also deflects better off cover.

I'll be fast-retrieving the Mann's C4 crankbait on 15-pound-test Berkley fluorocarbon line using a Quantum 6.3:1 baitcasting reel on a medium-action 6-1/2-foot Quantum rod.

When you're fishing a shallow-running crankbait in shallow water in October when the bass are active, the faster you reel it, the more strikes you'll have and the more fish you'll actually hook and land.

I'll throw a crankbait as close to the barges, the rocks and the docks as possible, trying to bounce off them and crashing the bait into the structure during the retrieve. I'll also use a stop-and-go retrieve. I'll reel the crankbait fast, stop it and reel it fast again. Usually if the bass don't attack the bait when it stops, the fish will jump on the bait once it begins running again.

These bass will weigh 2 to 6 pounds each, really good sized river fish. On a good day, I'll catch 12 to 15 nice-sized bass.

Topwater lures

In October, you can fish topwater lures successfully for bass all day. If I can't get the bass to bite the crankbait, a white buzz bait will be my first choice to get the actively feeding fish to attack. Next, I'll fish a walking bait, like a Zara Spook. When fishing a walking bait around barges, I prefer a clear belly with a shad-colored back to resemble a shad.

Everyone knows you fish a buzz bait fairly fast this time of year, but I'll also fish the Zara Spook or other walking baits fast. I want that walking bait to appear to be hopping from one side to the other to elicit a reaction strike from the bass. I don't want to give the bass time to look at the bait and decide whether or not it wants to hit the lure.

Many times I catch more bass on topwater lures on bright, sunny days than I do on overcast or rainy days. If you'll observe the shad, you'll notice they're more active and will be on the surface more often on a sunny day than on a cloudy day.

Bluegills will float up close to the surface on a bright, sunny day and hold in the shade. Bass are accustomed to seeing their baits either on or near the surface during October, regardless of the sky conditions.


My third selection for October bassing at Ferguson is a spinnerbait. During the fall, in almost any river you fish in Mississippi, a spinnerbait needs to be in your arsenal. I prefer a 1/2-ounce spinnerbait with a chartreuse/white skirt with a No. 4 willowleaf blade on the end of the spinnerbait and a small Colorado blade on the end of the willowleaf. I'll be fishing that spinnerbait in the same places I've fished crankbaits and topwater baits.

These bread-and-butter lures and tactics consistently pay off with river fish in October, whether you're fishing the main river or the back waters like Lake Ferguson. Although you can try the shaky-head worm, pitchin' and flippin' and other techniques, you won't beat the lures I've named at this time of year.