As grass, lily pads fall back, there’s new, open water for anglers to test
Bass always follow a buffet. When shad move to shallow water, so do the bass. In November, the shad will swim into Ross Barnett’s shallow waters for two reasons. They’ll move into the dying grass, hold and feed in 1 to 3 feet of water, due to the water cooling down. They’ll also swim into the rocks — mainly riprap. As the water cools at the end of November, the rocks will reflect heat, and the warmest water in the lake will be near the surface.
So, I use several tactics to catch the bass in both places with four rods on my casting deck. I’ll primarily be fishing on the lake’s eastern side in the big lily pad bays.
Go shallow early
At the first of November, the lily pads are dying off, and the grass is breaking up. You’ll be able to fish places you haven’t since late spring and summer. You need to concentrate your fishing on the lily pads and grassy areas the first two weeks by using four key baits and covering plenty of water fairly quickly.
At first light, I’ll be casting a black, 3/8-ounce buzzbait with black, painted blades, around the dying lily pads in open water and in the lanes formed by the grass that’s also dying and breaking up in 1 to 3 feet of water. I’ll use a heavy action, 7-foot-1 FX Custom rod with a fast tip and spool 30-pound bass braid on my 7.5:1 Bruin baitcasting reel. I’ll be searching for shad moving back into shallow water. I should get lots of bites, catching numbers of small bass, but November is also a very good month to catch a bass weighing 4 to 6 pounds — and possibly even a 9-pounder.
I’ll fish a white Mann’s Super Frog in the grass and the pads that are too thick for the buzzbait. I want to learn what color the bass prefer that morning. I’ll fish it on a heavy action, 7-foot-4 FX Custom rod and the same reel spooled with 50-pound bass braid.
I’ll also fish a blue shad Mann’s Baby 1-Minus on a 7-foot-2, medium-action FX Custom rod with the 7.5:1 Bruin reel spooled with 20-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon anywhere there’s enough open water with grass under it that I can run a shallow-running crankbait without it getting hung. I’ll try to tick the grass with the lure if I can. If it gets hung, I’ll rip it out of the grass and pause it.
With these three lures, you’ll get a number of short-striking bass that don’t take the lure. You’ll need to have a follow-up bait to cast to the spot where the bass missed your lure.
If you’re fishing the buzzbait and the frog, the bass are most likely to blow up on those and not get the lures in their mouths.
I’ve been fishing a new follow-up bait I’m very excited about: a junebug-colored Mann’s Spring-R worm. It has a spring that runs through the lure, causing the worm to have more action on the fall than any plastic worm I’ve ever fished. I’ll rig it wacky style with a No. 1 wacky, weedless hook and cast it to the spot where the grass and lily pads are sparse. Then, the bass can see the bait fall and attack it. I’ll fish it on a medium-action, 7-foot-4 FX Custom spinning rod with 15-pound bass braid on my Bruin spinning reel.
Later: cover water
As cold fronts move through in late November, I’ll move to the rocks, fishing the same Baby 1-Minus and the Spring-R worm with the same setups of rod, reel and line that I’ve used to fish the grass and the pads.
The shad and other baitfish will be shallow on riprap, since the rocks reflect heat, and the warmest water will be near the surface. Ross Barnett has plenty of rocks, but I’ll concentrate on the riprap in Pelahatchie Creek and near the dam.
I’m covering a lot of water quickly, for instance, maybe 1,000 yards of riprap. However, only 50 yards may give me four or five bass bites. Once I determine the places where I get the most bites, I’ll concentrate there.