We are at one of the greatest times of the year to catch both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Water temps are dropping and bass are schooling up. Shad are moving and migrating back to the creeks that feed most lakes and the bass are targeting them. So this is when a lot of the shad baits are working like suspending jerkbaits, A-Rigs, crankbaits, swimbaits and of course spinnerbaits.
Shad Bait Wins
The nice thing about all these baits is that they are power fishing baits: just chuck them out and reel them back. These lures allow you to cover a lot of water and fish in the wind, rain, sleet, and snow without having to sit still and wait for a bite. I hope you caught that, we need to cover a lot of water this time of year. "Here today gone tomorrow" is what you hear all the time. Fish are moving so these lures allow you to take advantage of that. Sleep in a little, this is the time of year you can take your time getting on the water. Some days it takes a little sun on the water to fire them up.
So don’t put your stuff away yet, pick up a few of these shad bait fish catching lures and get out there and experience why we call it the best time of year to fish. Good luck and happy catchin'!
Our Recommendations at SFT
Spinnerbaits: War Eagle Screaming Eagle
The Screaming Eagle is a 1/2oz compact hidden head design with smaller #4 blades. This bait allows you to cast it far and burn it back faster and not have it roll over. We use Gold Shiner in cloudy to stained water and Mouse in clear water but in the fall we do use the painted blades in Chartreuse and white. Remember to vary your speed and add in some twitches to find out what they can’t resist.
Crankbaits: Spro Aruku Shad
The Aruku Shad has that great fish catching sound different than a lot of the other rattling baits out there. Also the nose down angle helps with its snag proof ability and will save you when fishing the Susquehanna river rock ledges. Fishing it on a stop and start retrieve is most effective this will ensure good contact with the bottom. Our favorite color and size is Perch and Black back Gold in the 75 size 5/8oz. but don’t forget the ever deadly chrome blue.
Jerkbaits: Megabass Vision 110
The Vision 110 is hands down the best finesse jerkbait on the market. Finesse meaning it is more effective with light twitches and dead sticking than real fast power techniques. We will often pause 6 to 8 seconds between jerks, most of the time we get bit on that pause.
The other big benefit is its cast ability, this bait really carries on the cast and cuts the wind like a bullet. Tennessee Shad , Ito Waggisaki and Stain Reaction are among the favorite colors.
Swimbaits: Strike King Rage Swimmer
Weather fished single or on the a-Rig, the Rage Swimmer will produce. Fishing with a steady retrieve is as good as any. The sexy shad and the pearl are the most popular colors, size down when conditions get tough. Match the weight jig head to the depth of the water and the position of the bait in the water column. If the bait is on the bottom you may have to go with a bigger head to get down and stay down.
A-Rigs: Picasso School-E-Rig Bait Ball
The Picasso A-Rig is the most friendly out there. They have a color and size for every situation and are available with or without blades. The School-E-Rig Jr is my favorite but I carry the regular School-E-Rig for that more spread out look. Add the bait ball for the most aggressive look, there will be days where the blades make a big difference and you will be sorry if you don’t have one. Keep a steady retrieve when fishing these rigs. As with the swimbait fish it where the bait is located in the water column.
Performing routine boat maintenance on your boat means you’ll get a longer lifespan out of it. We want you to be on the water every chance you get and not sidelined by something that could have been prevented. I have developed my own simple maintenance regiment that takes minimal effort and makes boat ownership a lot more manageable. When thinking about boat maintenance always remember the six P's: Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance!
Taking Care of the Hull
Taking care of the hull is something that can be done at the beginning and end of the season. When you pull out your boat for the season or are winterizing it, put on a few coats of quality marine wax, I prefer the 3M High Performance. Consider using a sealant. I use Pro-Tec clear coat sealant/polish it helps keep scum lines to a minimum. During the season, if you are having trouble getting rid of scum lines stop scrubbing. Instead of breaking your back scrubbing try Starbrite EZ-On EZ-OFF to make your work easier. Just brush on and squirt off. Remember that it’s an acid, so take care not to get it on your trailer.
The Fuel System
Before you begin, read your owner’s manual before doing anything if your fuel system. That way you will have a proper understanding of just what should and what shouldn’t be used on the system. I personally, run a Mercury. There are 2 simple requirements I practice with fuel maintenance. First off, I use Carbon guard which controls carbon build-up. Afterwards I use a fuel system cleaner, my preference is Quickleen, and add it to every other tank. If your boat sits for more than a couple of weeks plan on adding a stabilizer in your gas based on the recommended amount.
Flushing Your Engine
Every time you take your boat out on the water when you return it’s important that you flush your motor afterwards. Your motor can accidently suck up sand or dirt during use and this will keep it running smoothly all year round. Using a hose adapter to flush the motor is one of the easiest ways to take care of this. Many boats on today’s market even have hookups for a hose on the inside or outside of the motor casing.
Topping off the Oil
Always use the oil your manufacture suggests, what might seem as savings now could lead to problems in the long run. While your topping off the oil, open your battery boxes and check all connections, greasing them where needed. Cleanliness goes a long way, so get all that grime off the hoses, pumps and bilge. Put a bar of LAVA soap in the bilge area at beginning of the season and leave it.
We’d love to hear your own maintenance routine. Perhaps you can expand upon one of our steps or have a product that works every time. Catch us over on our Facebook page and share your thoughts!
One of the most important things to remember when fishing for shallow smallmouth bass is to be always be prepared with a follow-up bait. Often times I find that when using spinnerbaits or jerkbaits the bass will track your baits to the boat and turn off at the last second. This is probably one of the most exciting aspects of fishing, followed of course by a frustrating letdown.
The Real Key to Success
If you want to stop this cycle from hindering your catch, then it’s time to embrace the follow-up bait. I like to have a spinning rod rigged with light line and some type of soft plastic. I position this rod across the front of my bow up by the trolling motor. I keep it there so I can access it immediately when I see a bass tracking my baits.
Typically, I usually use a tube for this application, But had a fellow tournament angler clue me in on using the Gary Yamamoto 4” Senco so I put it to work out on the flats of Lake Ontario. I had to adjust my rigging a few times until I got it right, but there is no doubt the smallmouths jumped on the bait as soon as they saw it. On several occasions the bass came up out of ten feet of water to engulf the lure as it fell. I rig the bait with Zappu Inchi Whacky Drop Shot Jig Head in 3/32 oz. I used 6 pound test Gamma Fluorocarbon on spinning tackle.
Getting Your Technique Right
One of the keys to working this type of pattern is to respond as quickly as you can. Typically, you have a window of about five to twenty seconds to get your bait in front of the following fish. The fish is activated when he is following your lure to the boat and will stay in the active state for only a short time before he spooks and takes off. Your job is to get this bait into the fish’s strike zone as efficiently and quietly as possible. If you can execute this properly and in a timely fashion you can expect to catch a number of fish that would have otherwise been missed. Give it a try and with enough practice you’ll be catching that smallmouth with your follow-up bait in no time!