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Dustin Lester 

HINTS ON LOCATING BASS IN THE EVER CHANGING CONDITION OF OKLAHOMA WATERS

If there is anything that I have learned while fishing in Oklahoma there is only one constant; that is change. In this monthly article I will be discussing all the different types of changes that we all have to deal with on a daily basis and some hints or tactics that have helped me locate and catch bass.  Whether it is the ever changing lake levels, changing of the water temps, fishing pressure from all of the tournaments, water clarity, or just the normal changing of the seasons I will explain what tips and tactics have helped me adjust and catch fish.  

VOL. 1

FOLLOWING THE FOOD CHAIN

As hot summer days begin to cool and we head into the fall season, bass fishing tends to improve.  It’s not that there are suddenly more bass in the lake, but they are definitely easier to find.  They begin to move closer to the shorelines as the weather cools, following the food chain.  No longer are they chasing shad out into the lake, they are starting to concentrate on points and on various flats.    Bass move shallow chasing bait fish, which move shallow because their food source, plankton, moves into the shallows as well.  Follow the food chain, it’s an important part of fall angling, and something every angler should be aware of each and every trip to the lake.  My favorite way to fish is throwing a spinnerbait and flipping in shallow water, so when the water temperature starts to cool back into the 60 degree zone and the bass start moving back into the shallows to load up on shad, before the brutal winter months, I want to be there.  The shad are typically 3 to 4” in length this time of the year, so I prefer to throw a double willow leaf (one gold blade and one silver blade) white 3/4oz. Red River spinnerbait.  And I am always armed with a Red River F5 finesse jig tipped with a chunk trailer.  Starting in the bigger creeks of a lake I will find the points where the creek channel makes a bend toward the bank and work my way to the back of the creek in search of the elusive largemouth.

Run the points in the fall, especially the long tapered ones.  These tend to produce better than shorter, steeper points this time of the year.  I can recall a Tulsa Metro tournament that I was fishing last October, and I had prefished for this tournament for three straight days.  I felt on tournament day that I had established a really good pattern throwing a shallow running crankbait on chunk rock banks with the creek channel running parallel to the banks that I was fishing.  So like usual my plan of attack fell to pieces, and by one o’clock I only had two small keepers.  Something needed to change, and it needed to change in a hurry.  I put the trolling motor on high and started hitting all of the long points in the creek, and to my surprise there they were.  By weigh-in which was at three o’clock I had culled both of the small fish and had a limit that weighed 14.80lbs.   

Rock walls are other areas that can really hold the bass in the fall.  The shad get much tighter to these walls in the fall than they are in the summer.  When shad are pushed up against the bluffs, the topwater bite picks up and will last a lot longer each day than in the summer months.  The best way I have found to fish a bluff anytime of the year is to position your boat along side the bluff itself, and make long cast parallel with the rock bluff.  A shad colored Zara Spook using the walk the dog retrieve is an awesome way to start out, and if the bass are in an aggressive feeding mode, HANG ON.  Another bait choice is a crank bait in a shad pattern, and you made need to try two or three different diving depths to locate the fish that are suspended underneath the schools of baitfish.

During the fall, electronics are very important.  You’re fish finder should become a staple to you as you locate shad that will begin to gather on and around points.  There won’t be much activity in coves for the most part, but make sure to scan the larger ones with your sonar, because at times, you will find shad in the backs of some coves.  Those are the areas you want to fish your top water baits both in the mornings and the late afternoon.  If there are a lot of weeds in the back of a cove then a spinnerbait is a great choice.  Fluke type baits will also work well.  Finding these fish can be very difficult because you won’t generally establish a solid pattern.  Sometimes they are there and other times they are not.   When you do find a cove with baitfish in it, sometimes you can fill a limit very quickly.

These are the key methods I use to catch bass when they are gorging themselves on shad in preparation for winter.  Unlike the in the spring when the fish migrate shallow to spawn, these bass have only one thing on their mind, food.  By following the food chain and minding your electronics you too can enjoy some fast and furious bass catching action this fall.

Stretch a neck….