During a recent conversation about bass fishing, the topic of top water baits came about. The original thought was that top water baits would be a thing of the past for this season. It was felt that live bait would be the best thing going for fall bass, especially because the water was really starting to cool down.
Well, there’s a lot of truth to that, but I really like trying something different every once and awhile. I’ll admit it, prior to this conversation, I really never thought of fishing for bass with top water baits this late in the year.
Well, why don’t we first think about places where we could give top waters a try.
Our cooling lakes, LaSalle and Braidwood will be shutting down this month. Do they have bass? You bet they do! Actually, if I had to make a choice, I’d pick LaSalle Lake over Braidwood and I’d fish the east wall in the first pool. I really think that that area would be good, especially around the areas where the larger rocks can be found.
Lake Michigan would be good too. With all the big rocks around the breakwalls, not to mention the big weed patches, this has to be a natural and worth trying.
Getting to the big lake may mean using the Calumet River or passing by Lake Calumet. Now that I’m really thinking about it, I do recall using top water baits on the river and in Lake Calumet in the fall a couple of times and did catch fish.
In both cases, the locations that I fished were ones where I could situate my boat close to a rocky shore and yet still have deep water near by. Try to remember that on the river, a lot of areas have shallow water close to shore, extending out for ten to fifty feet. Look for deep water near the banks and cast to the front of the boat to waters that you have not yet traveled over.
The same goes for places like the DesPlaines, Kankakee, Fox, DuPage and Illinois Rivers. They all have smallmouth and largemouth bass that will jump on a top water bait.
So let’s think about this, getting back to what I just said in the beginning of this article. It’s thought that live bait is best in the fall because fish really want to put on the feedbag when the waters cool down. They want to get ready for winter by gorging themselves with minnows.
Now, think about it. Why do fish school, especially bait fish? There’s safety in numbers right? Ok now you’ve always heard about gamefish hanging out around schools of baitfish. Do they open their mouths and just plow into the school? I don’t think so. Do they hang out on the edges of the school and pick off the stray minnow or shad? You bet they do. What if one of those fish happens to be skittering across the surface of the water? Well, they’re making some noise, getting the attention of the bass. They’re creating the sight of a lonely fish away from the school. They’re sending out a signal to bass that they may be an injured fish saying “Come and eat me”.
So yes, I think we can catch bass on top water baits here in greater Chicagoland. I’m convinced of it and will be spending some time doing it this month.
What kind of baits shall you use? I’ve said it many times that those that you have confidence in should be your first choice. But if this is going to be something new for you, consider several to try.
A buzzbait is one of the most popular top water baits to use and it’s once of the easiest to make work. Cast it out and retrieve it in. You want that bait spitting up water all the way to the boat.
Some buzzbaits will make more noise for you by having the blade hit the lead weight in the head. To do this, just bend the arm with the blade down just enough so that it will hit the lead yet still turn easily.
Popper type baits are good too. These you can make a constant retrieve or with the rod tip, make the bait spit up some water three or four times then let it sit still for a moment. Then make it pop a few times again. This stop and go action really depicts a dying minnow.
Then there’s the spook baits. Work these the same way with either a constant “walk the dog’ retrieve or give it the stop and go action. With the tube shaped bait darting back and forth, how could a big bass resist it?
Color of the baits? I say who cares. Fish will be looking up and have a bright sky in the background. This backlighting gives the bait a black silhouette to look at, not to mention a lot of movement that may not allow them to analyze the color. Use what you have or what you would have confidence in.
Top water baits, are they worth a try? I say that they sure are and you should go for it. Watching a bass boil on the water going after your bait is the best and with top water baits, you get the sound, the sight and most of all, the feel of a bass slamming your top water bait.
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