In September, often our state is often experiencing very hot weather, as we have this past summer. However, toward the end of the month, we might start getting some relief from the heat.
And to catch largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass at Bay Springs, fish just as the glow of morning lights the sky.
This month, some of the bass will be moving up to shallow water, anticipating cooler weather. Other bass will be schooling and suspending over deep water, with other bass holding in their hot-weather haunts.
I rely heavily on my RayMarine electronics.
I start running the points first — searching for bass and bait balls by using the side-scanning feature to find shallow-water bass and the down-scanning feature for bass in deeper water.
Once I locate fish on my electronics, I move my cursor over to that spot, mark it as a waypoint and drop a marker buoy beside my boat.
Then I’ll know where to put my boat for the most success. The bass might be holding on one small bottom break or underwater rock. So understanding how to line my boat up on that spot is critically important.
I’ll have several rods with different lures tied onto them on my casting deck.
The first lure I’ll fish is the Mann’s Reel’N Shad in the Hartwell color — which has blue metal flakes in it, and looks and swims just like a shad — because the bass have moved into shallow water to feed on shad and other baitfish.
I’ll make long casts to the points and reel the Reel’N Shad really fast just under the surface of the water on 15-pound-test White Peacock fluorocarbon on a 7.3:1 Pinnacle reel with a 7-foot medium-heavy action rod.
I hope to trigger a reaction bite from the bass holding on the point or schooling just off the point.
Spotted bass — of which Bay Springs has plenty — are notorious for following a lure back to the boat and then attacking it when it’s one or two rod lengths away from the boat.
Using this tactic, you also might catch some nice smallmouths, which generally move up on the points at night and hold there during the first hour or two of daylight.
Besides watching your line as you’re retrieving your lure, constantly look at open water because, during September, bass will come up out of water 20 to 30 feet deep and attack baits on the surface.
Once the bass stop schooling on the surface, cast past the spot where you’ve seen the school. Reel the Reel’N Shad up to the spot, stop your retrieve and let the lure free fall to the bottom.
The older, larger bass might be holding just below a school of young, feeding bass that are crashing into the school of shad, killing and injuring as many as possible.
For this reason, those bigger bass will hold at the bottom of the school, waiting on the dead and crippled shad to fall.
E-Z 30+ crankbait
As the sun climbs high, I’ll burn a Mann’s E-Z 30+ crankbait with a blue back, chartreuse sides and a pearl belly on the same line I’ve fished the Reel’N Shad on a 7-foot, 11-inch Pinnacle Cranking rod with a 5.5:1 reel.
Although this large crankbait can dive down to 30 feet, I’ll fish it in water 12 to 20 feet deep and make the bill of the crankbait dig the bottom.
I’ll also be fishing underwater ridges that are 15 feet down and dropping off to 25 feet, and looking for underwater ledges and drop-offs not on the river channel.
At Bay Springs, there also are a number of shelves that come off from the bank and drop to 15 to 25 feet deep, and I’ll run my crankbait on the sides of the shelves.
I’ll set the side-scan feature to see the top of the drop-off and the down-scan to see the edge of the drop-off in the deep water.
When I’m fishing ledges, I use the same tactic with my electronics as I do when I’m fishing points: marking the schools of fish and then returning to cast.
As soon as I get a bite, I drop a marker buoy to keep my boat positioned so I can fish that same location with every cast I make.
If I don’t get a bite, I’ll burn the crankbait down to dig the bottom, and then stop the crankbait and fast-retrieve again.
The Stone Jig
If I can’t get the bass to bite these baits, I’ll start casting the ½-ounce Mann’s Stone Jig in the green pumpkin color with a green pumpkin crawfish trailer on 40-pound-test White Peacock fluorocarbon line on a 7-foot, 6-inch Pinnacle rod with a 7.3:1 reel.
On my first two casts, I’ll slowly drag my jig across the bottom. But if I don’t get a bite, I’ll drag the bait and jerk my rod up hard to make the jig jump off the bottom and fall back.
The bass generally will take the jig as it falls back to the bottom.
Last but not least, I’ll fish a drop shot worm — a 4- to 5-inch straight-tail worm or a 6-inch Mann’s Jelly Worm — by nose hooking the plastic with a very sharp No. 1/0 drop-shot hook.
To successfully drop-shot, don’t set the hook when you feel pressure on the line. Instead start reeling, and then pull back.
I’ll use 14-pound-test braided line on the reel with a 10- to 12-foot leader of 12-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon line.
Before I make casts, I’ll reel the leader all the way in and onto the spool of my rod. I just shake my rod tip and drag my weight along the bottom.
Any day I fish Bay Springs, I’ll have a rod rigged up with all these lures.
I know that these tactics should produce a mixed bag of 12 to 15 September smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass.