As fall arrives, target hungry bass in backs of creeks, on main-lake sandbars with a variety of lures.
Pickwick Lake is my choice for October bass-fishing trips. Although I know where the bass will be, I’ll have to cover plenty of water to find them. Bass will be roaming, and locating the shad in the creeks and pockets and on primary and secondary sandbars with mussels will be the key.
I like to fish from the dam up to the Natchez Trace Bridge and target Yellow Jacket and Bear creeks. Your best bet will be to start fishing halfway back in the creeks and fish all the way around the creeks’ backs and around to the other halfway point.
Pickwick has been good to anglers this year, and you can catch three species of bass there: largemouths, smallmouths and spots. Also, Pickwick has grass, and since we probably will have had a couple of cold snaps this month, the grass should be breaking up.
I’ll keep four rods on my casting deck: one rigged with a black buzzbait, one with a white buzzbait and two rigged with frogs.
I’ll start in the mornings fishing shallow water in the back ends of creeks and pockets, casting buzzbaits, throwing both black and white lures to learn which color the bass prefer. I’ll fish two different types of frogs, too, to know which they like best.
At the same time, I’ll be looking for bass blowing up on shad. With the lures I’ve got tied on, if the bass start blowing up on shad, I should be able to reach them with a buzzbait if they’re in open water and with frogs if they’re in the grass.
My buzzbaits will be on 7-foot-1, heavy action FX Custom rods with a Bruin 8:1 gear reel and 23-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon line. I can fish the buzzbait fast and cover lots of water when the bass are biting aggressively.
With the frog on the same rod — but using 50-pound bass braid as the main line with a 7:1 Bruin reel — I’ll slow down my retrieve. I’ll fish it in places and around cover where the bass aren’t as aggressive. I’ll fish a black Super Frog over the top of the grass and a white Pygmy Frog, a popping frog, in the open water where the grass is breaking up. Once I begin catching bass, I’ll put my Power Poles down and thoroughly fish that region of grass and broken grass.
When the bass stop hitting my topwater lures, I’ll pick up my Baby 1-Minus crankbait and fish it on a medium-heavy, 6-foot-8 FX Custom rod and a reel spooled with 20-pound fluorocarbon. I’m presenting a small hors d’oeuvre like the Baby 1-Minus below the surface, so the fish don’t have to come to the surface to eat it.
Fish the channel
Numbers of bass will be holding just off Pickwick’s main-river channel on the secondary bars in October. I’ll start by fishing a walking bait like the Zara Spook, paralleling the grass where the bass are holding on those bars. Where the bar comes to a point, or if there’s a ditch that comes through the bar and makes a point — where baitfish will often be concentrated — those areas are the ones on which I’ll key. This tactic will produce good numbers of 2-pound smallmouths, although I won’t catch many big smallmouths. If the bass aren’t working those secondary bars, I’ll next search for pea gravel banks on the main lake.
Ned rig, drop-shot rig
If I haven’t caught the bass I want using these tactics, I’ll start fishing with finesse tactics on the pea gravel on the main river banks. A Ned rig is a 1/8-ounce mushroom-shaped jig head with a Mann’s Jelly Bug in green pumpkin or watermelon red slid right up against the jighead. I’ll be fishing a 7-foot-4 FX Custom spinning rod with 15 pound bass braid on the reel, tied to an 8- to 10-foot leader of 10-pound fluorocarbon. This do-nothing tactic gets numbers of bites and falls slowly. Once the Jelly Bug hits the bottom, it doesn’t stand up like the shaky head worm does. I’ll inch it along.
I also like a drop-shot rig using a Jelly Bug in another color, but I don’t fish the drop-shot rig like most people do. Instead of shaking my rod tip, I drag the weight on the bottom and let the Jelly Bug move slowly along the bottom through the pea gravel.
What you’ll catch
During the fall, I’ll fish as many back ends of creeks and pockets as possible to find bass. You’ll catch numbers of small bass, but you also may catch some bass weighing 4 to 5 pounds. I expect to catch 20 bass or more a day in October at Pickwick using these techniques.