This month I'll be heading to 500-acre Calling Panther Lake in Crystal Springs. Calling Panther is a fairly new lake, and it's starting to produce some really big bass.

In October, the shad and other baitfish will be moving into shallow water. This is one of my favorite times of year to fish topwater. Fishermen enjoy seeing a big bass blow up on a topwater bait. October is the month, and Calling Panther is the place where this fun fishing is most likely to happen.

You'll get a number of bites and catch plenty of bass in October. The bass will be holding right up against the bank, or they'll be suspended shallow over deep water in standing timber.

In October, the 1/4-ounce buzz bait is my lure of choice because the baitfish are about that same size. The bass are keying in on those smaller shad. At this time of year, the shad will start moving back into the pockets, and that little buzz bait looks like an injured shad. I prefer a white buzz bait on bright days and a black one on rainy or overcast days.

I'll be fishing the buzz bait on 17-pound-test Berkley fluorocarbon line on a 7.3:1 gear-ratio Pinnacle Optimus XLT Tournament Class reel and a Pinnacle 7 1/2-foot rod, using a medium-steady retrieve. This lake still has a lot of timber in it, so I'll be casting to any visible cover I can see.

At some spots in the lake, being able to cast to the bank will be difficult, so to catch these bass, stay on your trolling motor, and cover a lot of water until you locate the bass.

Calling Panther has a number of pockets in it, about 10 to 12 on the right side of the lake, if you're standing on the dam and looking out on the lake. On the left-hand side of the lake, you'll see bigger pockets. I prefer to fish the small pockets first, because there's less area where the bass can hold. If I can get the bass to start biting in those short pockets or coves, I'll stay with them all day.

I'll go to the big pockets on the other side of the lake only if the little pockets aren't producing bass.

 

Two buzz bait bites

The bass generally take the buzz baits two different ways during the fall. The one I like better is the one you don't see - when the bass just comes up behind and under the buzz bait and sucks it into its mouth. By the time you set the hook, the bass has the buzz bait well in its mouth, and most of the time you'll land the bass.

Although the second bite is much-more dramatic, it results in far fewer hook-ups. When the bass comes to the bait and blows up on it, breaking the water and trying to kill the bait before it eats it, you know it isn't hungry but just mad at the bait. The bass wants to kill the bait and get it out of its territory.

These bass are the easiest to miss when you try to set the hook. That's why I keep a back-up bait on a back-up rod to cast to the same place where the bass missed the buzz bait.

 

Frogs for October

My back-up bait will be a rubber frog like a Mann's Super Frog. I'll throw it right to the spot where the bass has blown-up on the buzz bait and missed it. When the Super Frog hits the water, I'll let it sit still and then twitch it, causing the bait to quiver or shake.

When you pick up that frog, think about weight. You've just finished striking a bass that's blown up on a buzz bait, but you've got to tell yourself that if the bass blows up on the frog or sucks it in, you'll wait to make sure the bass has the frog in its mouth before you set the hook.

This task isn't easy, because you're excited, you know the bass is there and you've seen it strike at your buzz bait. Give the bass time to get the frog well into its mouth, and then set the hook. I prefer a white frog when I've fished a white buzz bait and a black frog when I've been fishing a black buzz bait.

I'll have the frog tied to 30-pound-test Stren Sonic Braid line. With the frog, I'll be fishing a Pinnacle 7-foot, 11-inch rod with a 6.4:1 gear-ratio Pinnacle Optimus XLT Tournament Class reel.

 

Deep and shallow

If for some reason you can't catch the bass in those shallow pockets, move out to the standing timber. The bass will suspend at this time of year in the timber, but they'll be holding high in the water with the baitfish. Fish the timber just like you have the pockets, using the same rods, reels, lines and a frog as a back-up bait.

You also can run a Mann's Classic spinnerbait really fast, just under the surface, so that it leaves a wake. Even though you're fishing high in the water, and the spinnerbait is underwater, you still want it to wake on the surface. Then the bass can track it. I've found in October, when the bass won't eat the buzz bait in the timber, they often will eat the spinnerbait.

I'll be using a 3/8-ounce spinnerbait with a No. 4 1/2 willowleaf blade and a No. 3 Colorado blade in front of the willowleaf blade. This time of year, I prefer chartreuse/white spinnerbaits with Mann's white spinner-bait trailers.

This month, you should catch a number of small bass because Calling Panther is a fairly new lake. But you also may catch a 10- to 12-pounder at any time, since those big bass will be active. On an average day, you'll catch 25 to 30 bass, if you fish topwater baits all day, or at least you'll get that many bites. I can't guarantee you'll catch every bass that bites.

I prefer to fish Calling Panther Lake this month, since I'll enjoy a lot of action, get plenty of strikes and even may catch a really big bass. If you land 15 bass, you'll probably have a 2 1/2- to 3-pound average, and you very easily may have three bass weighing 6 pounds plus on your stringer.