Bill Lowen’s Fall Lure Selection
This time of year allows Bill Lowen to enjoy the contemplative side of bass fishing – while mercilessly crushing freakish numbers of shad-hungry largemouth. “In the fall, a lot of guys are thinking about hunting more than fishing, so the lake is usually pretty peaceful,” he says. “Plus, the bass are keyed in on shad and are often holed up in shallow water, so they’re easy to catch. This kind of fishing is right up my alley.” Ever the power fisherman, Lowen looks to incite reaction strikes with a quartet of shad imitators in the backs of creeks and bays, where much of the lake’s bait is corralled. Here’s what Lowen uses to tag and bag hefty sacks of bass this month.
Tightlines UV Tube:
Lowen stresses that your baits and presentations should mimic shad, so he Texas rigs a 4-inch UV Tube with a 1/4-ounce Reins tungsten sinker and works it around visible cover such as stumps and laydowns. “The bass are really focused in on that shad migration, so I try to make this look like one by snapping it around rather than dragging it. I’m looking for a reaction bite.” Lowen snaps his tube with a 7-6 All Pro APX Elite flipping stick with 17-pound Trilene fluorocarbon.
Ima Square Bill:
Lowen designed this flat-sided crankbait for Ima because he wanted a big profile bait for crashing in and around cover. “The key for this is to crank it faster than you would a normal crankbait,” he says. “This makes it run more erratic than it does normally.” Lowen sticks with either a chartreuse/black back or bone or citrus shad hues to closely mimic the silvery forage. He throws them with a 7-foot, medium-heavy All Pro APX Elite crankin’ stick and 15-pound Trilene fluorocarbon.
D&L Tackle Bill Lowen’s Swim Jig:
“This may be the easiest way to catch a bass this time of year. If you can throw a spinnerbait, then you can throw this – and for me, a swim jig catches more fish,” he says. “Work it just how you do a spinnerbait: Throw it out and reel it in.” Lowen tosses a white or black-and-blue 1/4-ounce model tipped with a Tightlines UV grub on an All Pro Bill Lowen Signature Series Swim Jig rod. Regardless of water clarity, he always uses 30-pound braid.
D&L Baby Advantage jig:
Lowen likes this compact jig for its speedy falling action. He hops it around the same shallow cover as he does the tube. “Once again, this is great at getting a reaction bite.” He hangs a Tightlines UV Beaver on for maximum descent speed and appeal. Green pumpkin and white are his go-to colors. “Whatever you’re doing this time of year – be it cranking or flipping – it needs to be fast and about the reaction bite,” Lowen says.
Flipping Fall Bass With Todd Faircloth
The Enegizer Bunny and B.A.S.S. Elite Series pro Todd Faircloth share a common trait. While the bunny keeps on ticking, Faircloth keeps on flipping. He never winds down – cast after cast, short, methodical, thorough. Faircloth is like a well-oiled machine as he eases along a grassline. He has full confidence that bass are clustered somewhere in this green cover, and sooner or later he’ll find them. When he does, he knows he can “get well” in a hurry. This is a classic warm month pattern, right? Absolutely, but it’s not exclusive to the hot season. Faircloth, of Jasper, Texas, says on many lakes, bass linger in the vegetation into late autumn. “I’ve caught ’em flipping grasslines in December on Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn and Lake Amistad,” he attests. “Now I may not get as many bites flipping the grass this time of year , but I’ll get enough to keep things interesting, and the average size fish I catch will be big – 3 to 4 pounds.” This is why other anglers should keep this pattern on the front burner as fall progresses. This time of year most people gravitate to the backs of creeks where shad are working. But Faircloth knows from experience that deep grasslines still hold some good bass this time of year, and he will usually have these fish all to himself. Here is how he racks up some hefty catches when the air is cooling, the leaves are turning and the fish are gorging themselves in anticipation of the cold months ahead.
“In Texas lakes, I’m usually fishing grasslines in 8 to 20 feet of water, and the water color is clear to slightly stained,” Faircloth begins. “The grass usually quits growing at the edge of some sort of dropoff – a creek, ditch, underwater point, etc. The fish travel along these contour breaks, and they use the grass as cover. So anglers should look for contour changes with grass growing on them.” More specifically, Faircloth looks both visually and electronically for places where a grassline turns or makes a point. “These bends and points are the most likely places for the bass to concentrate,” he notes. “They’re natural ambush places where they can hide in the cover and watch for forage fish to swim by.” He adds, “Sometimes the grass will be matted up on the surface. Other times it’ll be growing to within 2 to 3 feet of the surface, but you can still see it . In both cases, you can find the prime spots just by looking. These are the best conditions for fishing this pattern. “But other times when the grass is a little deeper, you have to depend on your graph to see it and to follow the breaks. Still, the same rules apply. You want to work the edges of the grassbeds and focus mainly on those points and turns in the cover.”
To do this, Faircloth flips a 1 to 1.5 ounce All-Terrain Tackle Grassmaster jig mated with a Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog trailer. His go-to colors are a black/blue jig and a watermelon Hog. He explains, “Bass holding in these deep grasslines in the fall are mainly feeding on bluegill, and this color combination matches this prey species.” Faircloth picks his jig size based on water clarity. “The clearer the water, the faster I want my bait to fall, so the heavier the jig I’ll use. I’m looking for a reaction bite with this presentation. I don’t want the fish to have much time to study the bait. Instead, I want it dropping by them fast so they have to make a split-second decision on whether or not to bite it. I believe this is the best way to trigger strikes in clear water ,” Faircloth says.
As he slides along, Faircloth makes a new pitch every 4 to 5 feet, over and over, always just ahead of his boat’s bow. When he pitches into the grass, he lets his jig free spool to the bottom. When it hits, he engages his reel, hops it once or twice, then reels it back up quickly and makes the next pitch. He says 90 percent of his bites come on the first drop he makes into a new spot. He calls this technique “speed flipping.” He says, “I don’t spend a lot of time looking for individual fish. Instead, I’m looking for groups of fish. If I can find a group clustered together in one small area, I can load up in a hurry.” Faircloth adds, “It’s amazing how much water you can cover fishing like this, and this is what you have to do. You just keep working those grass edges and searching until you hit a place where some bass are holding. You might go a long way without a bite, then you’ll hit an area the size of a pickup truck where the bass will be gathered up. This is what you’re looking for. This is where you can put together a good limit in just a few minutes.” Faircloth continues, “When you hook a fish, you need to land it and get your bait back in the same spot as fast as you can. When you catch one, it’s important to keep the bite going. If you’re fishing with a partner, he needs to get his bait in there quickly. It’s commonplace to get a double in this situation.”
How Gerald Swindle Fishes The Football Season
Fall is the favorite time of the year for bass fishing’s funniest man, Gerald Swindle. The former waterbug-quick Locust Fork High School running back and kick returner finds peace in a tree stand following a long Bassmaster Elite Series season, and he finds bass returning to a variety of shallow water patterns where he enjoys catching them most. Not to mention, Swindle makes his home in the heart of college football’s Southeastern Conference, and that always leads to a truckload of smack talk debates with his fellow football lovin’ brothers of bass.
How to Catch ‘Em: “It’s spinnerbait time, and there ain’t a more fun lure out there at this time of year. After fishing slow and deep all summer long, I finally get to go to the back of a creek and cast a spinnerbait,” says Swindle. “I’m throwing a spinnerbait to match the shad they’re feeding on, and I’m not expecting to catch a school of 5-pounders, but I know I’m going to catch a bunch of fish, with a few 3 or 4 pounders mixed in. You can catch them from a wide variety of habitat, ranging from laydown trees to riprap.” Equipment: 20-pound Sunline shooter spooled on a Quantum SL100SPT 6.3:1 Smoke reel.
How to Catch ‘Em: “The bass are transitioning to rocks, because rocks hold heat even during the cooler nights of late fall,” says the Warrior, Ala., pro. “This is the time when shallow square-bill crankbaits like the RC 1.5 shine. I may start my day toward the back of the creek, but my main focus will be mid-way toward the front of the creek on all rocky banks and riprap shorelines.” Equipment: Swindle makes an interesting note that while he loves the slower 5.3:1 Quantum Cranking Classic reel in the spring and summer, speedier reels like a 6.3:1 Energy PT simply seem to trigger more strikes with shallow crankbaits during football season.
How to Catch ‘Em: “The water is getting cold enough that they aren’t chasing cranks and spinnerbaits as much as they were earlier in the fall. So instead, the jig comes into play,” says, the 2004 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. “I’m going to pitch a 3/8-ounce jig to brush around shallow docks, rip rap or laydowns.” Equipment: Swindle says he uses a 3/8-ounce jig 90 percent of the time because it has the right rate of fall, descending just slow enough in colder water.
How to Catch ‘Em: “I’m going to look for as many sun-drenched rocky banks on a creek channel swing as I can find,” says Swindle with arrow straight focus. “Even in the South, the water will likely be in the high 40s or low 50s, so I’m gonna’ drag that same 3/8-ounce Arkie jig from the rocky, sunny shoreline out to 15 or 20 feet deep where the creek channel kisses the bank. I’m just dragging it along the bottom until a bass picks up on it. It’s key to maintain constant feel and bottom contact.” Equipment: Swindle stresses using a quality rod like the 7-foot, 4-inch Quantum EXO that affords ultra-sensitive feel for bites that are sure to be passive and feather-light in early winter’s cold water.
Jeff Kriet Changes Gears For Fall Bass
Jeff Kriet has a reputation for staying put. The Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Oklahoma knows how to find bass, and once he finds them he has little trouble putting them in the boat. When it comes to finesse tactics or catching suspended bass, he has few equals. That’s why it’s something of a surprise that he completely changes his ways when it comes to fall bassing.
Kriet focuses his attentions on the backs of creeks and pockets, flats and windy banks, but what he’s really looking for is shad. “The shad could be almost anywhere, but those are the high percentage places to look,” he adds. “I like areas that have a channel nearby so the bass have some deep water access, but the bass are going to be near the bait.”
“I usually like to fish really slowly,” he says, “but fall is the one time that I want to cover a lot of water, and my favorite way to do it is by burning a spinnerbait.” That’s another departure for the affable eight-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier. Fall is one of few times that he ever ties on a spinnerbait, preferring a lipless or square bill crankbait when bass are in thin water. “A big part of this pattern is the right bait,” Kriet says. “My favorite spinnerbait for this tactic is a 1/2-ounce Sebile Pro-Shad Finesse Spinnerbait in Holo Greenie. It’s a terrific shad imitation, and the bait performs like no other on the market because it’s compact, has a unique blade design and works great in clear water, which we have a lot of at this time of year.” The blades on the Sebile spinnerbait have the outline of a baitfish, and they’re small enough that they provide little “lift.” That keeps the lure under the water even at high retrieve speeds. The compactness of the bait allows Kriet to make long casts and cover lots of water. “It’s a very natural looking bait, and that means a lot in clear water,” he says. “It’s important to match your spinnerbait to the shad, so a natural color is key. I think the blades on the Sebile make a difference, too.”
Because he’s making long casts (and may have to set the hook from long range) and retrieving very fast (which can result in short strikes), Kriet likes a trailer hook on his fall spinnerbaits. It can dramatically cut down on missed bass. “I’m moving fast and covering lots of water, but I want to keep my bait in the strike zone, so I like to move in close to the bank and make parallel casts that keep me in the productive zone as much of the cast as possible. “I also like to give the bait some added action,” Kriet says. “While I’m reeling it in, I’m also twitching and moving my rod tip a lot to throw a little slack in the line and make the bait pause and flutter. Sometimes that makes all the difference.” Kriet’s fall pattern is not without its caveats. “If the bass aren’t cooperating,” he says, “I’m going to put that spinnerbait down fast and go to something else. When they’re on it, it’s fantastic – there’s no better way to catch them in the fall. But don’t go out there and push it for four hours waiting for something to happen. I don’t fish this pattern unless I know it’s the deal.”
Kriet’s Fall Gear:
When burning a spinnerbait, Kriet opts for 15-pound-test Hi-Seas Fluorocarbon line spooled on an Abu Garcia Revo casting reel (7:1 gear ratio) mounted on a Falcon swim jig or Falcon Eakins Jig rod. The jig rods have just the action that Kriet likes for spinnerbaiting.