Toledo angler Coy Walters with a big bass caught on Stanley’s LSU-colored Vibrashaft spinnerbait. (Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 02, 2013 10:44 AM
This is no doubt my favorite season of the year to fish as water and air temperatures cool down. The fish are hungry and the lake is not overcrowded. However, there may be a slight increase in fishermen from what is the norm for late September and early October.
I have some theories as to why that might be happening, but nothing scientific.
One possibility is the difficulty of hunters finding good hunting leases that are affordable for the average sportsman. The cost of hunting leases have gone through the roof the past 10 years and I know those who have not renewed their leases. I feel some of these may have increased the days they spend on the lake instead hunting.
Not only is freshwater fishing excellent in the fall, but area saltwater inlands like Big Lake and Sabine Lake produce outstanding fishing.
Whatever your outdoor passion, October is about as good as it gets.
Due to recent rains, the lake is up slightly (3-4 inches) to 167.6 feet with both generators shut down early this week, but they have generated a couple of hours on select days.
Water temps continue to fall and early this week stood at 77-78 degrees. The Bend is in good shape with stained water conditions up north, midlake mostly clear and south Toledo is clear.
Rising water has covered some of the grass, but there are still huge amounts of exposed hydrilla and pepper grass.
BASS: No doubt that cooler weather and dropping water temperatures have triggered more active feeding from the bass population on my favorite fishing hole. The spinnerbait pattern is one pattern that has definitely been improving with slightly higher water levels and lower water temperatures.
The slight increase in water levels give the bass additional openings and areas in the grass where they can feed and still be in cover where they feel more secure. These conditions also have a tendency to move more baitfish into the edge of vegetation. A spinnerbait is ideal for fishing this habitat because it can be worked over the top of grass as well as through the grass without getting fouled.
For this situation, my choice is Stanley’s Vibrashaft with double willowleaf blades. Willowleaf blades seem to come through the grass better than Colorado or Indiana blades. I am also using their hand-painted versions of this bait with my two favorites being Royal Shad (LSU) No. 321 and chartreuse, blue and white No. 323. This series also has extra long skirts. We are working this bait several ways depending on how the bass react, but for the most part we are running it pretty fast.
Another productive pattern is flipping the outside edge of the grass with jigs and soft plastics with medium and large worms the best for quality bass.
Fellow angler George Jeane Jr. of Evans was able to cull some of his tournament bass by flipping this past weekend in Fort Polk’s Fall Bassmaster Classic. The Fort Polk Bassmasters Club sponsors a spring and fall classic and is a quality event that is fished by numerous area anglers.
Jeane finished fourth with between 17 and 18 pounds. Winning weight was in the 23- to 24-pound neighborhood. We were not able to find out the winning pattern.
The weightless soft plastic is also on the increase as more bass move shallow. Berkley’s Havoc Grass Pig (5 inch), Berkley Jerk Shad, Senko and Fluke are all great soft plastics to rig Texas weightless and crawl through the grass. In addition, a wacky rig is also becoming more successful by working it on the outside edge of the grass in 10-16 feet. Havoc Bottom Hoppers and Senkos are excellent wacky worm choices. I suggest from 8- to 12-pound test Berkley Trilene 100 percent fluorocarbon to work the wacky while a second choice is Big Game 10- and 12-pound test.
Topwater patterns and small-to-medium crankbaits are another worthy pattern to use. Topwater patterns at first and last light using Pop R, Chug Bug, Pro Pop and Yellow Magic on grassy points are catching bass. Crankbaits on windy, grassy points are scoring with Baby Ns and Deep Little Ns.
Stay ready for schooling activity, especially in the back of large creeks and halfway back in major coves. Look for baitfish as you must have plenty of shad to find good populations of bass.
CRAPPIE/YELLOW BASS: We haven’t heard of a lot of crappie or white perch activity even from crappie guides. However, we have heard of several crappie caught at night off some of the deep piers in south Toledo.
These are lighted, baited docks and are in 18-22 feet. Small live shiners have been the best bait. However, crappie should start showing up in mass in baited brush piles everywhere as cooler water temps settle in.
Yellow bass have been in good numbers most of the summer and continue to be along creeks and anywhere there is plenty of shad and deep water. Spoons, tailspinners and medium crank baits are good choices for yellows.
Joe Joslin is a syndicated outdoor columnist, tournament angler and pro guide on Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn. His column appears Thursdays. Contact him at 463-3848 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.joejoslinoutdoors.com