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Tricking fussy fall schoolers

Tricking fussy fall schoolers

I’ve been doing a lot of fishing throughout the Mid-South and Southeast the past couple of weeks, and I’m amazed at how far the fall pattern is behind this time of year.

I anticipated cooler nights would be lowering lake water temperatures, but they remain above normal thanks to unseasonably warm and dry weather.

Many of the lakes are low and some states are experiencing drought conditions. It’s made the lakes extremely clear, and that’s created even tougher conditions.

Cooler weather accompanied by rain would get the baitfish moving and trigger schooling activity among the bass. When that happens, fishing gets better.

We were starting to see little signs of schooling last week. However, the few bass that are schooling are being very selective about the lures they’ll hit and how they want them presented.

Most people think of topwaters for schooling fish and they’re right; it’s something I’ve always got tied on. I love throwing the Strike King Sexy Dawg on 30-pound braid because I can cast it a mile to those fish that come up in the distance to bust bait.

However, one of the problems you run into with making long casts with topwaters on braid is the line often catches on the front treble hook. I learned a trick that helps alleviate that; tie a 2-foot monofilament leader between the braid and lure and the problem is reduced substantially. I use 20-pound green mono.

While filming a Bass Pro Shops TV Show with Davy Hite on Clarks Hill Reservoir, we encountered very little current and no wind so the fish were really scattered. Only a couple fish would come up to bust bait, but then they would go down quickly.

We tried swimbaits and other finesse-like baitfish imitators, but the fish wouldn’t respond to the slower presentations.

We finally hit upon something that got us some good bites from hybrids and stripers as well as largemouth.

I caught a bunch on my KVD deep jerkbait and a ghost-colored, 4-inch Caffeine Shad rigged on a Mustad weighted belly hook.

The reason those presentations worked so well is the jerkbait has a weight-forward system that allowed me to cast a long way and jerk it hard and fast to trigger reaction bites. It also got down closer to the fish, as many of the bass we saw were cruising 10 to 15 feet down over very deep water and looking up for those pods of bait.

It was a similar deal with the Caffeine Shad. I would make a long cast and burn it, kill it, twitch it a couple of times then burn it again. It became apparent the fish didn’t want anything moving slowly.

It was pretty much the same thing with the few I caught on the Sexy Dawg. I had to keep it moving fast and make it look natural.

If you’re fishing under similar conditions, remember that you may have to use speed to trigger the bites. Cover a lot of water, use natural colors and don’t allow the fish time to get a good look at the bait.

Sure, it’s tough fishing when you have clear water, no wind and unseasonably high water temps. Better days are coming, but these tricks should get you more bites in the interim.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!