I’m concentrating on 1,075-acre Lake Okhissa this month, since it is home to plenty of vegetation and numbers of big bass. September often is a tricky month to fish for bass; baitfish are starting to move into shallow water — with bass following them — and the vegetation is breaking up some, which means more areas will be available to fish than in the summer. My favorite lures will be surface lures, frogs and punch baits.
For about the first 1½ hours of daylight, I’ll be searching for main-lake points, pockets and cuts. I’ll target grass lines around the points with a walking bait like a Zara Spook. I’ll use a Shimano Curado 7.5:1 reel spooled with 30-pound bass braid with A 23-pound fluorocarbon leader on a 6-foot-6, medium-action Shimano baitcasting rod.
I’ll walk a clear-belly Spook with a metal flake gray or blue back with a medium retrieve, stopping the bait occasionally to trigger strikes from bass that might not be very active. I’m looking for baitfish activity on the edges of the grass, where they will be schooled up tight and on the move.
I’ll mix the Spook with a ¼-ounce white buzzbait to trigger strikes from more-active bass that prefer a small bait. I’ll fish the buzzbait with a trailer hook on 20-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon and the same reel a the Spook, but on a 6-foot-10, medium-heavy ExPride rod. By varying the retrieve, I can determine how fast or slowly the bass want the lure.
Frog ‘em up
Next, I’ll fish two types of Mann’s frogs: a black Super Frog that I’ll walk on top of the grass and a white Pygmy Frog on top of the grass, around the lily pads and targeting the places where some grass is breaking away and leaving openings on the edges. With a Super Frog, I’ll fish a 7-foot-3, heavy action ExPride rod with 50-pound bass braid and a 7.5:1 reel. I’ll walk that frog across the top of the grass like the Zara Spook, using a steady retrieve, until I reach an opening in the grass where bass often will be, trailing the surface movement of the frog. Those bass won’t actually attack the frog until the frog comes to an opening or is on the edge of the grass.
You must pay attention, because you may not see a big explosion. The bass may be cruising under the frog, suck it into its mouth and move your line sideways. Remember to hesitate just long enough to make sure the bass has the bait before you set the hook.
The baitfish will tell you where the bass are when you hear them smacking under the vegetation or see the bass moving through the vegetation. If you have no success, start flipping and pitching with punch baits.
Punch the bass up
I’ll assume bass are feeding under the grass and flip and pitch with two styles of punch baits. I’ll use a heavy action Shimano flipping stick, 60-pound bass braid and a 1½-ounce bullet sinker. I’ll have another rod rigged with a 1-ounce weight to penetrate grass that’s less thick and lily pads.
The rod with the heavy weight will have a 6-inch junebug Jelly worm, rigged weedless with a No. 4/0 wide-gap hook to allow the weight pull the worm through the grass. The other rod will carry a black with blue flake Craw Worm with a No. 5/0 wide gap hook. Both will be 7-foot-6 ExPride rods. Be ready to set the hook the instant the worm penetrates and comes out the other side of the grass. Get the bass out of the grass quickly to disorient it.
A bass is most likely to take these baits at three different times in the process: when the bait gets under the grass, once the bait hits the bottom, or when you pull the weight and lure to the bottom of the grass, hold it there for a few seconds and allow it to fall back to the bottom. You may flip and pitch for a long stretch of grass and still not get a bite. But when you do get one, put your Power Pole down. You may get numerous bites in a grassy, 10-foot square. If you get a bite on the worm and the bass doesn’t take it, throw right back in that same spot with a Craw Worm.
In September at Okhissa, you’ll catch bass weighing from 1 to 7 or 8 pounds, especially when flipping and pitching the vegetation. Expect 20 bites per day, and hope to land half of them. Although Okhissa has spotted bass and largemouths, fishing the vegetation probably will yield more largemouths.