September is here and it is Really HOT!!!
Even though launching in most areas is very poor because of the low water conditions, the fish are still biting .. and some good catches are being made. Here’s what’s happening in the southern portion of our lake…
August 29th, 2005 – Normal pool level 172 –Today’s level 164.61. Lake is currently 7.39 feet low. Lake temperature 93.1 degrees. Generator 1 & 2 running from 11am-8pm, Spillway gates closed.
Bass – The early morning (and when I say early I mean EARLY) continues to be pretty good. Lot’s of “schoolies”, and every now and then you will get into some really nice size fish. A number of baits have been successful so let’s take a look at the best.
Topwaters – Downsize to the smaller chugger, zara spook, small ½-oz jigging spoons and tiny torpedo-type baits. Best action has been on the chrome, shad and clear patterns. A good tip is to add small feathers or shinny mylar strips to the rear hooks because it will definitely increase your numbers of strikes. I personally like to keep one rod rigged with a spoon and another with a small chugger.
The technique is to wait for the bass to bust the surface chasing shad and then cast the bait directly in front of the path they are taking. The strikes can be fast and furious and it’s not uncommon to have more than one fish slam into your lure. This is fun fishing for sure.
Buzzbaits & Spinnerbaits – Parallel the shoreline and key on brush, partially submerged trees or work the edges of grassbeds that drop off into 4-12’ of water. Good baits are the ½ and ¼-oz models made by Lunker Lure or Texan Lure. The technique is simple yet very effective. Make the cast and engage the reel just before the bait hits the surface of the water. This will allow you to easily keep the bait up on the surface as you work it s-l-o-w-l-y back to the boat. Let the bait sputter and fuss and allow it to make contact with any type of cover in its path. When it makes this contact the bait will stop momentarily, and then quickly dart forward again. A bass just can’t resist this, and the irregular action will usually trigger a strike.
Same technique for the spinnerbait but I also like to allow the bait to “slow-roll” down into the deeper cuts and points. White and chartreuse for the buzzbait and a small ¼-oz white with small Colorado silver blade and a #4 gold willow blade are the patterns that seem to work day in and day out.
Plastics – Once that sun starts bearing down go to the Texas and Carolina-rigged worms. I like to use the brush hog, but in the past couple of weeks I have caught some really nice bass using a larger 9- to 11-inch worm on a Carolina rig. Use a ¼-to ½-oz weight, a 3 foot leader and # 3 or #4 wide-gap hook and you are in business.
Concentrate on humps, old creek channel edges, and any other area that has quick access to deeper water (20+ feet). Use the deep purple colors like methiolate, black grape, dark-green pumpkinseed and watermelon red. You probably won’t get as many hits using the larger 11”-type worms, but the strikes you get are usually going to be quality fish.
Don’t think that this hot weather has all the bass looking for deep water. There has also been a good late morning bite in about 4-to 12 feet of water. The bass are cornering shad and some really nice fish can be taken.
This is the time of the year when you also need to keep a drop-shot rig handy. If the bass get lock-jaw and just don’t seem to want any of your offerings, that is usually when the drop-shot saves the day. The drop-shot is best fished on light line and spinning outfits and consists of tying your hook up the line and putting the lead on the bottom. Raising the bait off the bottom gives fish a different look, and it is often easier for them to see.
Although there are many different specialized hooks and leads available to tie this rig, any small worm hook and any kind of sinker will work. I personally like a 1/0 offset Eagle Claw hook and a 1/8th-3/8th-oz bell or bullet sinker. Start by tying the hook using either a Palomar or Double Improved Clinch knot. Leave the tag end the length you want the worm to be off the bottom. I recommend starting at 16 to 20 inches up the line unless you see fish suspended a certain distance off the bottom. When you tie the hook, bring the tag end back through the eye of the hook from the top down. This will make the hook stand out straight. Make sure you pull your knot tight.
How the hook rides on the line is extremely important in getting a good hook set. You want the hook to be at a 90-degree angle to the line with the hook point up. Now tie a weight at the end of the line or crimp on a split shot. The drop-shot can be either cast or fish it vertically, but the key is to twitch the lure quite a bit which will make the bait really dance. Move it a foot or so, give the bait four or five sharp twitches, and then repeat the process back to the boat. If fishing open water, hook the worm thru the nose. If there is brush around the area, you can rig the worm Texas style, making it weedless. Good baits are Zoom Finesse worms, Crème Lure Devils Tongue, Flukes or other similar baits.
Crankbaits – Baits with a fast wobble in the ¼-to ½ oz size have been most effective. Strike King’s Diamond Shad, Bomber Model A, Lee Sisson Woody 2 and the Bandit “Flat Maxx” cranks have all produced fairly well during the month. Keep your color selection simple and stay with proven patterns such as pearl/blue back, baby bass, gray shad and chrome. Work edges of grasslines where the depth of water will be in the 4 to 12-foot range. A crankbait is also a handy lure to have for schoolies. Retrieving the bait under schools of surfacing fish will often yield you bigger bass which are feeding on the injured shad that are floating to the bottom.
Spoons – Stay with the ½-to 3/8-oz jigging spoon. I like the Cotton Cordell and Texan Lure, and rely heavily on a spoon with a nickel finish. The real secret to using a jigging spoon is patience and having a good depth finder. You need to position the boat directly over the edge of a drop-off, etc. and work the spoon vertically. For example — Disengage the reel, allow the spoon to free-fall to the bottom (or depth that you feel the fish are holding), engage the reel and then quickly lift the bait up off the bottom a couple of feet. Then allow the spoon to free-fall back to the bottom .. BUT (and this is extremely important) .. follow the lure down with your rod tip and maintain a “slight pressure” on the lure as it is falling. Almost all of the strikes will occur as the bait is falling so you have to be ready to quickly set the hook.
If you happen to hang something other than a bass (like a tree), just position the boat directly over the hang-up and gently pop the lure up and down. The weight of the spoon will usually dislodge the hook and you are back in business. Don’t get frustrated and just start yanking on the bait because that is a sure way to lose the lure. Have a bit of patience and the bait will usually come free. A jigging spoon will catch bass, bream, catfish, stripers, crappie, and anything else that swims in Toledo Bend.
Crappie – Anglers are still bringing in some nice crappie from brushpiles located in about 18-22 feet of water. Local angler Johnny Franks took some really nice “slabs” over brushpiles in the Six Mile area using minnows and small tube baits fished slowly over the brush. Plan to use a number of different colors to keep the crappie interested because they usually get finicky on one color and you have to experiment to see what gets them going again. Start with black/chartreuse because it’s hard to beat for these Toledo Bend crappie.
Striper – Not too many reports. Scattered fish have been reported surfacing in boat lanes feeding on shad.
Yellow Bass – To catch them consistently you need to locate the correct zone or depth the fish are chasing shad. Right now we are finding them in water that is from say 18- to 30 feet deep, but the yellow bass are holding (and feeding) at a depth of from 12- to 18 feet. Just a week or so ago the magic depth was 15 feet. Drop a spoon down at that depth, jig it, and odds are that you will find some willing fish.
Remember – Drink lots of liquid such as water and sports drinks during these hot days while you are out on the water. Also wear a wide brim hat and make sure that you apply sun tan lotion at regular intervals during the day. Hope you have a great September and pray for rain!!!
See you on the water — JB