We got a really good response from our first installment of the “What We’re Throwing” series so we’re going to keep it going in hopes of helping folks catch more fish. In many parts of the country, the brutal summer temperatures are finally starting to subside and fall is trying to peek its head around the corner. Granted, now that I just wrote that sentence, it might be 100 degrees for the next three weeks. But in general, I think it’s time to start pivoting a little bit towards a more fall-fishing mindset. If it hasn’t arrived yet in your area, it’ll be there before you know it.
With that being said, September can be a strange month for bass anglers, regardless of their locations. This is a big transition month, so the bass aren’t really committed to one particular pattern. They’re very scattered and these weird weather fronts can turn things on their proverbial head overnight. So as you’re fishing this month, make sure you keep things loose and have an open mind; what worked yesterday isn’t always going to work today during these odd seasonal transitions.
Here’s a rundown of the main baits we’ll be using for the next several weeks.
Berkley Powerbait The Champ Craw
There’s some guy named Jordan Lee who’s really good at bass fishing; if you haven’t heard of him, I suggest doing a few internet searches. He’s one of the best there is and he’s also very detail-oriented when he’s designing baits. Although you might see a lot of bait moving into the backs of creeks this month, it’s important to keep a pitching rod in your hand at all times. This time of year is known for strange and sudden weather fronts and when that happens, it can be mighty tough to get a bite on a moving bait. That’s why you should consider a soft-plastic craw such as this one.
The claws float when this bait is at rest which is important because when real crawfish are threatened, they raise their claws. This bait’s action mimics that natural behavior which is a big deal in tough fishing conditions. It’s also a versatile bait because of its compact size. You can use it for a jig trailer, a lightweight Texas rig or a heavier punching rig. This is one of those do-it-all baits that is tailor-made for tough transitional fishing.
WOO! Tungsten Ned Head Jig
I know… the whole Ned rig deal isn’t for everyone. If I had a choice every time I put my boat in the water, I probably wouldn’t throw it very much. But sticking with the transitional season theme, I can’t overstate the importance of keeping some type of finesse bait rigged and ready to cast at all times. Even if you get on a topwater bite (more on that in a second), this type of rig can be an excellent follow-up bait when a bass swirls at your bait and doesn’t quite get it. So always keep something like this ready during weird transitions such as this.
This Ned head jig is made of tungsten which makes it denser and smaller than other similarly weighted jigheads. That makes it easier to get it into and out of cover and it features a super sharp hook point that’ll peg pretty much anything that bites.
Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait Jack Hammer
If you follow bass fishing even a little bit, you’re familiar with this bait. It can be a little pricey but I’m telling you, there aren’t many other baits to twitch through shoreline vegetation as both the bass and the baitfish make their annual migrations into the shallow creeks. As you can see, I really like to stick with shad-colored Jack Hammers and I’ll fish ‘em down the banks of any small creeks that might branch off from the main lake.
A lot of folks are curious as to what size to throw and I tend to be a big proponent of the 1/2-ounce model. There’s not anything wrong with the lighter 3/8-ounce model but the larger 1/2-ounce Jack Hammer doesn’t rise as much in the water column throughout the retrieve. So if you need to speed up your retrieve to snatch it away from shoreline vegetation, there’s a smaller chance the blade will break the surface and blow out. Keep it simple with this one this month. If you see grass, it’s always worth a cast.
Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil Popper 110
This month is when a lot of fish will start positioning on isolated cover as they make their way into the aforementioned creeks we discussed. Whether it’s stumps on river bars or a few stick-ups at the mouth of a creek, they can be flat-out suckers for a well-placed topwater lure. We’ve had reports recently of both topwater poppers and walking-style baits producing throughout many parts of the country, so why not try the best of both worlds?
The Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil Popper 110 is going to be a big player for us this month. Although a lot of anglers prefer it for open-water fishing, it’s also a great choice for shallow-water fishing around dock posts, laydowns and stumps. This particular bait has the unique ability to spit and move a lot of water without moving towards the angler too much, which allows it to stay in the strike zone longer than many other topwaters. It’s loaded with super-sharp hooks and the color schemes are simply beautiful.
Bill Lewis SB-57 Squarebill Crankbait
It’s tough to find a better time of year to throw a squarebill. As we’ve discussed in this piece, the bait is starting to move shallow and there are very few better imitations of different baitfish species than a smaller squarebill. If you haven’t tried the SB-57 yet, I highly suggest doing so. It has incredibly sharp hooks, it’s a smaller profile and the unique bill design allows it to “hunt” throughout the retrieve. It doesn’t run in a straight line, which is a huge deal in my book. If you think about it, when is the last time you saw a live baitfish swim in a straight line? They dart and dash all over the place to avoid being eaten and this crankbait does an excellent job at imitating that.
You can buy this lure here.
Netbait Paca Slim Craw
I consider this bait one of those “old reliables”. I know we already talked about a crawfish-imitating bait in this piece but this one tends to really shine in post-frontal conditions. So on those days when it was 95 degrees yesterday and 75 degrees today, something subtle and simple tends to do the trick. It’s a simple, meat-and-potatoes bait that just catches ‘em.
You can drop it in grass holes, pitch it to irregularities on outside grass lines, pitch it under a dock and heck, even drag it around riprap if you get desperate. There’s nothing fancy about it but it’s a big-time option for a lot of anglers around the country because it just works. So if the weather pulls a 180 on you this month, it’s tough to go wrong with this one.
I have no idea why more people aren’t throwing this bait; especially throughout the early fall. I’ve caught some absolute giants on this bait over the past few years and at first, I tried to keep it a little quiet. But as time went on, it honestly frustrated me that so few people were utilizing such a fish-catching bait.
It’s super stretchy, so you can catch a pile of bass on a single bait. But the most important characteristic, in my opinion, is the very unique sound it makes as you reel it across the surface. It sounds very similar to the popular Whopper Plopper-style baits but it’s made from soft plastic and comes through shallow cover very easily. Treble-hooked baits just simply don’t make their way through nasty cover easily because they get snagged. The weedless ability of the Zoom Frog allows you to trudge and plop it through shallow vegetation and laydowns without any snags to speak of. I’ll also testify that some of the bites you get on this bait will scare the tar out of you. They eat it like they’ve never seen it before and the explosions are absolutely insane.
Berkley Frittside 5 Jr. Crankbait
When the bait is small this time of year, it’s awfully tough to beat a smaller crankbait and my buddies and I have been catching the mess out of ‘em with this plug lately. It’s a unique lure that acts like a balsa but has the durability of plastic. Not to mention, it’s designed by one of the best crankbait fishermen the world has ever known.
If it gets tough and if there’s a little breeze on the lake, try this plug this month. It’s also another lure you can take straight from the package and catch fish on. It comes stock with Berkley Fusion19 treble hooks, quality split rings and a durable body that’ll stand up to a bunch of fish catches. This lure is a huge deal where I live and I’m fairly certain it’ll work well for you this month, too.