As Lamar Arrington slid our canoe into the cool waters of Okatoma Creek, my anticipation of spending a morning catching ravenous spotted bass was about to become a reality. A few minutes and one creek bend later, Arrington pitched a Rapala an inch or so off the steep bank, and an Okatoma bass smashed the lure with a vengeance.

A short time later, I pitched a Rattlin' Rogue near the opposite bank, and another bass crushed my lure as well. We had only traveled a short distance from the landing when we got into the fish.

Lamar Arrington has spent a lifetime canoeing creeks and streams around the state, and is an expert at handling a canoe and at catching the spotted bass that inhabit these smaller waters. On more than one occasion, Arrington cast his lure right to the edge of the bank and drew a ferocious strike.

"I like to fish a bream-colored Devil's Horse once the water cools and the fish get real active," said Arrington. "If they're hitting the topwater baits good, I'll change to a chugger like a Pop-R or Chug Bug."

As the leaves continued raining down, bass continued striking our offerings. Arrington caught bass on a variety of lures, and before long, he had a pattern. The key on this trip wasn't chugger baits or prop baits, though Arrington did draw a few strikes on those. The bass preferred the shallow-running minnow-style jerkbaits that come in a variety of sizes, shapes and brands.

While the accomplished swift-water expert narrowed his lure choice down to a Rapala, my choice was a Rattlin' Rogue. Both lures drew strikes from the ferocious spots as they made bone-jarring hits.

As we floated in range of another creek bend, Arrington cast his Rapala right next to the bank on the inside bend, and another fish slammed right near it, missing by a fraction as he set the hook. The fish thought it had an easy meal, but misjudged the distance, much to Arrington's chagrin.

A couple casts later, I pitched my jerkbait to the same area right at the edge of the bank. I let the lure sit motionless for a moment, and then twitched it a time or two before cranking it hard back toward the boat. Though we were anchored near the middle of the creek, a bass smashed my offering less than 6 feet from the boat and almost tore the rod from my hands. It was all I could do to hold onto the rod and avoid a broken line.

After the initial surge I hit the release and then thumbed the reel each time the bass made another run until l finally wore it down. The bass was lying right near a stump along a drop off, which I didn't see until I had landed it and resumed fishing.

Further downstream, Arrington pitched his Rapala near another bank, and yet another bass slammed into the lure like a torpedo. After a short fight, he subdued this bass also and quickly posed for a photo before resuming fishing.

We also fished a few shoals areas on the lower portion of the float also. Those areas provide excellent opportunities for anglers to catch numbers of bass as the fish will gang up in the eddies below the shoals and feed on any unsuspecting prey.

Try a few of Arrington's favorite areas listed below, and find similar spots on the lower portion of this float as well. By November, the water will be sufficiently cooled, and the bass will usually strike topwaters and jerkbaits with abandon while the water will be mostly devoid of other anglers as hunting season has begun.

 

No. 1: N31 31.200 x W89 28.094: Leave the landing, and start fishing right below the landing. Continue fishing through the first bend.

"I'd cast a topwater or minnow-type bait along the outer bend of the creek," said Arrington.

Anglers should cast as close to the steep banks as possible. When the bass are in a feeding mode, they'll usually smash the lure before an angler has a chance to move it. When they don't hit it as soon as the lure lands, they'll often hit it on the first twitch, which is what happened to us on several occasions. After fishing the first bend, outer side first and then the inside bend, continue fishing the steeper banks, especially on the left side.

Arrington enticed a strike from a bass along the straightway, and also caught his first bass of the day.

 

No. 2: N31 31.147 x W89 27.917: Upon arrival at the next creek bend on the left, work the entire bend thoroughly, concentrating on the outer bend.

"Most of the time, I'll work one side of the creek while my partner works the other side," Arrington said.

While that technique allows anglers the opportunity to cover more territory and water, it also gives them the opportunity to find where the fish are. And sometimes they'll be located on one side of the creek or the other depending upon where the natural flow of the current is. In some places the current flows along one particular bank and that is the side that most of the bass will lie in ambush attacking unsuspecting prey.

Pitching a Rapala-style jerkbait along the opposite side from where Arrington was fishing drew my first strike and subsequently my first spotted bass of the day. The bass was beautiful, and displayed all the characteristics that you would expect to find in a clear-stream spotted bass.

 

No. 3: N31 31.152 x W89 27.791: After leaving stop No. 2, continue fishing to the next GPS stop, and fish the creek bend at this location also.

As we continued working topwaters and jerkbaits, we picked up another bass from this bend, while also missing one. On this day, Arrington was practicing catch and release, though he does keep a few to eat every now and then.

"Every bend in this creek looks good, and is capable of holding several bass," Arrington said.

It's simply a matter of getting out there and putting a lure in front of them and hitting your spots. Sooner or later, you'll find a spot that is chock full of the bass.

 

No. 4: N31 31.036 x W89 27.797: Continue fishing until you get to the first house on the left on top of the next creek bend. Stop just short of the bend, and work the inside bend first. It would be a good idea to put an anchor down and work the area thoroughly, according to Arrington, before moving on as you might just blow past the fish, even if you catch one.

"I'd fish both steep walls and also work the middle of this stretch of creek," said Arrington. "And always be on the lookout for areas of the creek that are shallow well out into the creek and then drop off."

These shallow drops also provide an attack point for marauding bass to hide and ambush any baitfish that may swim by above them.

A very nice spotted bass bit my jerkbait almost in the middle of the creek as I ripped the lure back to the boat. I was able to hang on to my rod during the initial strike and surge, and finally wore the fish down and landed it before releasing it.

 

No. 5: N31 30.906 x W89 27.764: After covering stop No. 5, continue to the next GPS point after you come to a long straightway. This location is set just before you get to the bend at the end of the straightway.

Arrington enticed a strike from a fish, and I followed with a cast near the shoreline. Another spotted bass ambushed my lure almost instantly. After a short battle, I landed the fish, and we took a quick photo and released the bass.

Arrington's pattern was holding up, and I had finally settled on fishing a chrome Rattlin' Rogue and got plenty of strikes with only a couple misses. Those misses usually occurred on the strike and initial hookset when they missed the lure on top. We'd set the hook by sight instead of feel and missed them, barely. Many times all it took was to pitch that lure back out there, and twitch it a time or two and they'd hit it again.

 

No. 6: N31 30.720 x W89 27.739: Location 6 is an area where the creek narrows quite a bit and the water runs really swift and into a creek bend with a stream pouring in from the right side. Areas that have swift water or a stream pouring in are good places to try jig-and-pig combos or crawfish-colored Beetle Spins.

Simply cast the lure across the creek just a bit ahead of the boat, and keep a tight line on the lure as the current carries it downstream. Most of the strikes occur as the lure floats downstream near an eddy or where the stream pours into the creek. That makes for a good ambush point for the bass as well.

 

No. 7: N31 30.754 x W89 27.581: After fishing No. 6, continue downstream until you get to a horseshoe bend that actually forms a large S-shaped bend in the creek.

"Areas like this are prime spots for catching spotted bass and lots of them," said Arrington. "When the bass are feeding aggressively, I'll try a Rattlin' Chug Bug or a Devil's Horse right up next to the bank."

While fishing this stretch of creek, we also drew several strikes and caught some as well.

 

No. 8: N31 30.733 x W89 27.519: After leaving No. 7, go around the next bend, and hit the outer bend on the left side. Once again, the key will be correct placement of the bait right next to the bank, under the overhanging limbs, without actually getting hung on a limb or on the bank. Anglers should also target any visible cover such as stumps, logs or laydown trees as any cover may hold a bass or two along the creek. Current breaks such as this allow bass the opportunity to rest behind the cover out of the main water flow and attack any unsuspecting prey with a minimum of effort.

It would also be a good idea to have a black or crawfish-colored jig-and-trailer tied on in order to take advantage of the wood cover. Simply pitch the jig right in front of or beside a piece of structure and let the current carry the jig by the stump. On almost every creek trip, I catch several bass from just such cover, and they tend to be bigger bass.

 

No. 9: N31 30.690 x W89 27.058: Proceed on to the next GPS point after traveling through a long straightaway, and fish the next bend on the right and along the visible cover and brush. Once again, Arrington recommends fishing the same pattern as all of the other points, and that is pitching that topwater or jerkbait right up next to the bank and near any available cover.

Unlike larger bodies of water where fish can be caught on a variety of patterns, once you find a pattern on the creek, the bass rarely vary from it on a given day. If the bass are striking the lures in the outside creek bends, along steep banks or right in the current, it will remain pretty much the same that day barring any unusual weather occurrence such as a localized thunderstorm that might muddy the water significantly and change the pattern.

 

No. 10: N31 30.486 x W89 26.874: Continue on until you get to the next GPS point, which features a creek bend that goes right into a shoals area.

"I'd fish the creek bend first and then the area just in front of the shallow shoals," said Arrington. "After I've covered that area, I'd get through the shoals and fish the downstream area also."

After we floated through the fast current, our canoe drifted to the right side of the creek out of the main water flow. Arrington pitched a Rapala right next to the bank where the current was flowing swiftly. Wham! A bass smashed his lure about the time it hit the water. It must have been looking up to the sky for an easy meal with the swiftness and ferocity of the strike.

After another intense battle with the strong spotted bass, Arrington finally wore him down and put him in the boat.

I quickly followed up with a cast on that side as well, and a bass tore into my bait the instant it hit the water also. After a prolonged battle, I wore my fish down and brought him into the boat.

Anglers should keep in mind that these GPS locations are all on the first half of this float. Once you get to the location where a sizable creek or stream flows in from the east side of the river, you have made it almost halfway. This portion of the float can be fished in four to six hours. However, if you wish to cover the entire float thoroughly without rushing, you'll need about 8 hours this time of year.

The pattern of hitting the creek bends and steep banks will hold out through the rest of the trip as well. Also keep in mind that there are several shoals areas on the lower portion of the float that provide excellent opportunities to catch numbers of bass as they will gang up and feed heavily in those areas.

For more information on floating this section of Okatoma, contact Ronnie Robinson of Okatoma Outdoor Post at 601-722-4297, 888-Okatoma or at www.okatoma.com.