For many anglers, October is a transitional month. Given what can be unstable and cool weather, many anglers have moved on to other outdoor activities, like hunting. Those anglers who have not put their gear away may hit the water only a time or two when the weather is perfect. But many hardcore bass anglers rate October as their favorite bass-fishing month, because the fish are active and it is prime time to catch a trophy.
First Choice: Spinnerbait
By the time October rolls around, most of the forage items in any body of water have been used up--except for minnows. As a result, bass in October feed heavily on them. Anglers should attempt to mimic minnows with the lures they use in the fall, which is why spinnerbaits are a solid choice. To begin, select a spinnerbait that weighs 1/2-oz. Use translucent colors when the water is clear; chartreuse or white if the water is stained. Cast and reel the spinnerbait in quickly, jerking your rod tip every so often to cause an erratic action that mimics a wounded baitfish. Reservoir anglers should target the backs of creeks, while lake anglers should focus on shallow areas with abundant cover.
Tie on a Jerkbait
Jerkbaits are long, slender baits that, when retrieved correctly, do a good job of mimicking a wounded fish. As a result, bass believe they have found an easy meal. Fish jerkbaits over flats that still have vegetation growing on them. The best way to retrieve the jerkbait is to cast it out and begin reeling until it is a foot or two below the surface. Then jerk the bait back to the boat. Give the bait a jerk, let it sit for a second or two, and jerk it again. Most strikes will happen when the bait is sitting still.
Slow Things Down
Bass in October can be like bass any other time of year in that they sometimes do not want to chase a bait like a spinnerbait or jerkbait that moves quickly. If you try those lures and they fail to produce, tie on a tube jig or a jig and pig. Tube jigs are especially effective in clear water, while the bulk of a jig and pig makes it a better choice in stained water. Pitch the bait to specific areas where bass are located, such as around clumps of vegetation. Let the lure fall to the bottom, then give the rod tip a sharp jerk to cause the bait to jump off the bottom. Bass are most likely to hit as the lure falls back to the bottom.
Topwaters Can be Dynamite
Most anglers forget about topwater baits after the summer ends. But many forage species--including shad, a bass favorite--feed near the surface in the fall. As a result, bass can easily mistake a topwater lure for an injured minnow flailing around near the top of the water. Poppers and small buzzbaits are some of the best topwater baits in the fall. Search for dimples or other indications of baitfish near the surface. Cast your topwater right in the middle of any schools of baitfish that you find and work the topwater slowly back to the boat. Wait a second or two after the bass bites your topwater to set the hook. Because the bite is often visible when bass hit topwaters, it is a common mistake to set the hook too soon and miss the fish.