September is a really good month to catch bass in private ponds and lakes, even in sub-developments and state and municipal parks, with a 1/2-ounce Mann's Stone jig and a big spinnerbait.

Most people aren't fishing big-bass lures like these, but rather are using plastic worms and lizards and top-water lures. But the biggest bass in a small lake or a pond will come to the largest lures.

I'll have a big trailer like a Mann's Mosquito Hawk on my black/blue or green/pumpkin jig. I like the same color for my trailer and a big spinnerbait.

Best bets

Lakes Ferguson and Whittaker, small oxbow lakes off the Mississippi River, are my two favorite public September waters because they're loaded with bass. The water's usually low in these lakes then, so the bass have to move to deep-water structure.

You can spend two days in each of these lakes, and fish every drop-off, point, rock pile and hidden, underwater sandbar. You'll catch plenty of 3- to 5-pound bass there, and generally catch and release 20 bass a day.

Identify cover on ledges, points, drop-offs and underwater sandbars, and then fish the first drop-off away from the bank on invisible cover. The depth finder is my key tool to finding the breaks and the drop-offs, and pinpointing the cover and the bass, which will be holding in 8 to 12 feet of water.

Lake Ferguson

The Mann's 20+ crankbait will reach down to about 18 feet and catch bass at Lake Ferguson, which is close to Greenville. I primarily use two colors - brown/black/chartreuse with an orange belly and citrus shad with silvery sides, a blue/back and an orange belly.

I'll be fishing these crankbaits on 10- and 12-pound-test line with a Quantum Energy PT E750 5.1:1 gear-ratio reel and a Quantum cranking rod.

I dig the bottom with the crankbait to feel bottom structure like rocks or limbs, where a bass may be holding. When the crankbait hits the structure, I'll hesitate it a few seconds and let it rise up and over the cover. Then I speed up my retrieve to make the crankbait look like it's running away from a bass to cause the bass to instantly attack.

I also fish a Mann's 1/2-ounce Stone jig at Lake Ferguson. I like the shape of this jig's head because it comes through the cover really well, without hanging-up. When it's on the bottom, it stands upright. I'll fish the jig on 17-pound-test Vanish fluorocarbon line with a Quantum Energy PT E770 7.0:1 gear-ratio and a Quantum Greg Hackney PT Tour Edition Signature Series rod.

Most of the time, September bass will be holding in 8- to 10-foot-deep water close to a place that drops off from 18 to 25 feet. I'll work the jig along these ledges, jerk it really hard off the bottom and then watch my line for a strike as it free-falls to the bottom at Ferguson.

Lake Whittaker

Lake Whittaker, about 50-miles north of Greenville, has steeper banks with more laydowns on the south side of the lake than Lake Ferguson does. The north side of the lake holds numerous shallow ledges. Lake Whittaker usually produces bigger bass than Lake Ferguson does, and you may catch a 6-pound bass at Lake Whitaker.

When I'm fishing the laydowns, I'll use 17-pound-test Berkley XT Trilene line and a square-billed Mann's crankbait in the same colors I use on Lake Ferguson. The square-billed crankbait has more vibration and swims over the limbs of a blowdown better than a round-billed crankbait.

To fish the laydowns, get your boat right in front of the tree in the water, run the crankbait down the left side of the trunk of the tree and then down the right side. Fish each side of the tree several times, and let that jig drop through every crack and limb in the top of the laydown tree.

Remember that the bass in these oxbow lakes receive a lot of fishing pressure. To get that reaction strike, you'll have to make numbers of casts to each tree.

If I don't catch a bass working the trunk of the tree with a crankbait, I'll back out to deeper water with my boat and fish the top of the tree with a Stone jig in either black/blue or green/pumpkin.

This is a really slow, meticulous way to fish. After I've worked the south side of the lake and the trees, I'll move to the north, more-shallow side of the lake with its points and ledges that run out into the lake. Electronics make the difference here since many fishermen have planted brush along these drop-offs and points on the upper end of the lake.

I'll be fishing with a 10-inch Mann's Texas-rigged worm because in hot water, bigger fish will bite a bigger worm. When I'm fishing the worm, I like red shad or green/pumpkin colors with a 3/8-ounce sinker on 17-pound-test Trilene fluorocarbon line and a No. 5/0 hook.

I work the worm the same way I work the jig, crawling it through every piece of cover I can find to elicit a reaction strike from the bass. When the bass takes the worm, I set the hook as fast as I can.

I really like river fishing, and you can have a good time fishing any of the oxbows on the Mississippi. These are my favorites for this month, and the crankbait and the jig are my two favorite lures.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Paul Elias, a professional fisherman since 1979, has won five B.A.S.S. tournaments and the 1982 Bassmaster Classic. Today, Elias competes on the B.A.S.S Elite Series circuit, the highest level of tournament bass fishing.