September’s hemmed up bass at Ross Barnett

The author likes to fish Ross Barnett in September, because there’s no deep water in which to hide.

Shallow reservoir removes one variable; bass must be in skinny water

September and October are my two least-favorite months to bass fish anywhere in the nation. The bass don’t know whether they want to be deep or shallow, and they’re harder to catch — at least in the South. 

So, instead of letting the bass decide where they want to go, I hem them up in Ross Barnett. This lake is relatively shallow and has an abundance of vegetation that will start breaking up some, especially toward the end of September. Another factor that makes Ross Barnett a good choice this month is that it has numerous docks, providing shade, food and structure where bass can hold. 

Getting started

Just a little before first light, I like to fish the riprap at the dam, since the bass pull up really shallow there, making catching them easier. Also, by fishing at first light, you can cover a lot of water and identify the areas on the riprap where most of the bass are holding. If you fish all the way down the riprap, you’ll find several little stretches that you can travel back and forth to catch bass. Once you locate those honey holes, you’ll have some good action for the first two hours of daylight. 

I start off fishing fairly fast with top-water lures such as a Rebel Pop-R or a Zara Spook on a 7-foot-1, medium-action FX custom rod with an 8:1 gear-ratio ELS Bruin reel. I’ll be using 20-pound braid with about 15 inches of 14-pound mono leader. I don’t choose fluorocarbon for my leader while fishing topwater lures because I get less action out of my bait, and it’s heavier than monofilament, causing the nose of the lure to sink down. 

Next, I use a Uni-Knot to connect the mono to the braid and tie on a shad-colored Mann’s Baby 1-Minus. I’ll fish the same rod, but instead use a 6.2:1 ELS Bruin reel spooled with 20-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon. I’ll fish these lures close to the rocks for about an hour, crashing the Baby 1-Minus into the rocks, creating a lot of action as I retrieve. Although these tactics generally catch largemouths, you may take a few spotted bass, too. 

Just before the sun comes up, the author will fish topwater baits like the Zara Spook and the Pop-R.

Follow-up worm

After about 1½ hours, I’ll start using watermelon-colored 4¾-inch and 6-inch SpringR worms rigged wacky style with no lead. I’ll fish the larger worm on a 6-foot-8, medium-heavy FX custom rod with a 7.3:1 ELS Bruin reel and 15-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon. For the smaller worm, I’ll use a spinning reel with 15-pound bass braid and a 6- to 8-foot leader of 8-pound fluorocarbon. I’ll cast the worm right up against the rocks and sometimes even on top of the rocks, pull it off and let it fall in the water, since the bass will hold shallow on the rocks. I’ll let the worm flutter to the bottom, pull it a couple of times and allow it to flutter to the bottom. Once the worm is in 3 to 4 feet of water, I’ll reel in and make another cast. 

As the sun rises

After spending about 2 hours fishing the riprap at the dam, I’ll go to the residential area of the lake and look for docks. I’ll pitch and flip every dock thoroughly with a black/blue-ounce Stone Jig and a black/blue craw-worm trailer on a 7-foot-10, heavy action FX custom rod with a 7.3:1 ELS Bruin reel and 30-pound braid. This jig is easy to skip under docks and falls fast enough to trigger a reaction strike. You won’t catch a lot of bass using this technique, but you’ll catch bigger bass than you’ve caught at the dam — possibly a 5- to 7-pounder. 

From 2 p.m. until dark 

During this part of the day, I’ll be fishing a Super Frog through the lily pads on a 7-foot-3, heavy action FX custom rod with a 7.3:1 gear ratio reel with 65-pound braid. This technique is usually the most-productive around the end of September when the vegetation starts breaking up. Then, you can fish in areas that you haven’t been able to fish all summer. But remember, you won’t hook every bass that hits the Super Frog. If you get seven bites, then you’ll probably catch at least three or four bass. 

Since the bass don’t have deep water to go to in Ross Barnett, they’ve got to be shallow. These water tactics will produce nice bass this month.

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Paul Elias
About Paul Elias 159 Articles
Paul Elias, of Laurel, has fished 15 Bassmaster Classics with career winnings of over $1 million, including one Bassmaster Classic Championship. Elias also holds the current record for a four-day BASS tournament weigh-in with 132 pounds, 8 ounces, on Falcon Lake in Texas.

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