Fall Bass As Easy As 1-2-3By Jason Halfen - September 29, 2021
1: Throw poppers near hard coverShallow water becomes far more hospitable to baitfish as surface temperatures begin their downward slide, with prey frequently congregating near hard, shoreline-related cover. Bass, of course, are never far behind, and can be found waiting to ambush baitfish near docks and fallen timber. Surface poppers are an excellent way to draw bass into the open, triggering aggressive strikes and providing anglers with an all-encompassing, entirely visual fishing experience.
The Mad Max popper from MONSTERBASS is rapidly becoming one of my favorite topwater baits. Mad Max is able to quickly pivot from one retrieve style to another, and to excel at each. The popper is meticulously weighted and balanced, providing excellent casting distance and accuracy - a key attribute when fishing near unforgiving, hard cover. The Feeder Gill color pattern performs well on natural lakes where bluegill are the primary bass forage, while the Bone color pattern really shines on shad-based rivers and reservoirs.
I present poppers using a 7-foot, medium-heavy power, moderate-fast action G. Loomis GCX crankbait rod. Unlike many of the fiberglass crankin' sticks available today, this G. Loomis GCX rod is fashioned entirely from graphite, taking advantage of over 40 years of rod design and engineering experience to slow the blank's action. The result is a slender, lightweight rod that delivers laser-precise casts and is a joy to fish. I pair this rod with a 7.1:1 gear ratio Shimano Metanium reel, spooled with 40 pound-test PowerPro braided line in the stealthy Moss Green color. Throw Mad Max with this combo, and you may find yourself fishing that dynamic new popper all day long - with a smile!
2: Work deep weed edges with Texas rigsDeep weeds that ring the basin are a frequent stopping point for bass as they work their way toward the shallow water buffet. A primary reason that bass will hold here is that deep weeds are often loaded with food, especially young-of-the-year panfish, as summer turns to fall. This readily available food source, coupled with thick green weed growth, will keep bass in a feeding mood in cooling waters.
In the fall, I like to present 6" lizards and 5" fluke-style minnows on Texas rigs. These slender, larger profile baits seem to trigger more strikes for me than compact craw imitations or creature baits. I build my rigs using 3/0 or 4/0 wide gap hooks - VMC offset wide gap hooks with resin-closed eyes are excellent choices - and 3/8 oz, pegged bullet weight sinkers with black or unpainted finishes. My rigs have a three-foot leader of 15 pound-test fluorocarbon, joined using an Alberto knot to 30 pound-test PowerPro braided main line.
3: There's always room for NedNed Rigs occupy a special place in every bass angler's bag of tricks, as incredibly reliable partners for putting bass in the boat under tough conditions. A steadily improving bite as the water cools is no reason to put Ned to bed. Indeed, I always have a Ned Rig ready to deploy, as few fish can resist its subtle yet powerful bite triggering capabilities - especially when fished away from cover.
My favorite fall Ned Rig baits are Z-Man TicklerZ and Hula StickZ , rigged on 1/6 oz Z-Man Finesse ShroomZ jigs. The little tail appendages on both the TicklerZ and Hula StickZ seem to deliver just the right amount of visual stimulus to trigger bites from otherwise reluctant bass. I use a three to four-foot leader of 8 to 12 pound-test fluorocarbon, joined with an Alberto knot to 20 lb test PowerPro braided line. For incredible feel and sensitivity coupled with exceptional strength, present your Ned Rigs using a purpose-designed 6'10" G. Loomis NRX+ NRR - the ultimate "Ned Rig Rod" - which has medium-light power and fast action. Pair the featherweight NRX+ rod with an equally light and strong C3000 series Shimano Exsence reel. With this combo in your hand, no bass is safe.
Winter is coming, and bass are on the chew. These presentations will put more fall bucketmouths and bronzebacks in the tank as water temperatures continue their downward slide. Give them a try before the snow starts to fly!