When I think of Mississippi lakes I like to fish in October, Bay Springs Lake comes to mind. A 9-mile-long reservoir on the Tenn-Tom Waterway northeast of Tupelo, Bay Springs has populations of all three species of black bass: largemouth, smallmouth and spotted.
October can be a tough bassing month, since most Mississippi lakes are transitioning from summer to fall fishing patterns. Bass can be in several places, including cool, shallow water in the early morning, then deep water later in the day. Since they can be caught by anglers using different techniques, I’ll have five rods with various lures tied on to primarily fish two areas.
Early a.m. — dawn to 9
I’ll run my boat to the back ends of pockets and then work my way from there to creeks out to the main river points — the opposite of how most bass anglers fish. The water temperature is changing from warm to cool, and the coolest water is in the very backs of creeks or their pockets. You need to find shad this month to locate bass.
To get that early morning, topwater bite in the backs of coves and pockets, I’ll start fishing a 3/8-ounce white/chartreuse buzzbait around every target I see, including submerged grass, grass above the surface, stumps, laydowns and any other visible structure. I’ll also have a Zara Spook and a 3/8-ounce Mann’s Classic spinnerbait tied on.
If I see the baitfish in a pocket and the bass won’t take the buzzbait, I’ll follow up with a more subtle topwater Zara Spook that doesn’t make as much noise and slowly darts from side to side. If those two lures fail to draw a strike, then I’ll go with a subsurface bait like a spinnerbait.
Since bass are in a transition mode most of the day, I’ll fish multiple lures at the same targets and in the same regions to aggravate bass into biting. I’ll make several casts to the same places each lure. I’m attempting to fish the most water as fast and as thoroughly as possible.
I fish buzzbaits with a 7-foot-3, medium-heavy Team Lew’s rod matched with a Team Lew’s 7.5:1 reel spooled with 20-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon line. I’ll fish a Zara Spook on a 6½-foot medium-action rod, a 8.3:1 reel and 30-pound braid. I fish the spinnerbait on the same rod with a 6.4:1 baitcasting reel and 25-pound fluorocarbon.
I’ll fish one more pattern all-day long; I call it a pattern of opportunity. Anytime I see bass schooling on the surface, I’ll go to that school and throw the Zara Spook first, then the buzzbait and finally the spinnerbait.
Rest of the day pattern
I’ll have two more rods on my deck that I’ll fish the rest of the day — one a 7-foot, medium-heavy spinning outfit with a 6-inch, green pumpkin shaky head or finesse worm on a 1/8-ounce leadhead. I’ll throw it first past stumps, logs and grass patches in pockets and coves in creeks and on the main-river channel and shake my rod tip every time.
Next, I’ll keep my boat in deep water and fish main-lake points with the shaky head worm. I’ll also fish the ½-ounce blue/ black Stone Jig on a 7-foot-6 medium-heavy rod with a 7.5:1 gear ratio reel and 30-pound braid. I’ll search for points with rocks, stumps or grass, while also looking for baitfish with my depth finder and watching for schooling bass.
Your October catch
On the main-lake points at Bay Springs, you’ll catch all three species of bass. However, I’ll expect to catch more spotted and smallmouth bass while fishing the points, since those two types of bass prefer smaller baits. Successful fishing this month is all about making multiple casts to the same target with different lures — once again, to aggravate them into biting.
October on Bay Springs is like October on many other lakes. Generally, you’ll have a boom or a bust day. On a good day, you’ll catch 20 to 40 bass. If you’re having a bad day, you may only catch six to 10. However, by fishing for the three kinds of bass at Bay Springs, I believe I’m more likely to have a boom day rather than a bust day.