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Get Em’ to Fall for Your TopwaterSubmitted by Full Limit Outdoor Media
Now that fall has fallen, it’s time for those of us who chase bass into the hunting season to enjoy the experience of topwater fishing. As the water temps cool down, baitfish begin their migration toward the cooler, more oxygenated, shallow water. This is food chain-type scenario that begins with small bait, followed by bigger bait, followed by bass. Every species is a predator of those smaller than itself. The most obvious example on most big bass fisheries would be bass feeding on gizzard shad. When you find mature gizzard shad, being 4” to 10”, you will find mature bass.
So, now that we have determined why the shallow bite on top is the deal, let’s look at how to maximize our effectiveness in targeting this scenario.
In regards to topwater baits, there are a few distinct styles that I’m going to cover. There are popper/chugger baits, walking baits, wake baits, prop/buzzbaits and the often over-looked soft plastic jerkbait. There are obviously other styles such as frogs and such, but in the effort of time, I’m going to concentrate on the aforementioned styles.
Here is the 411 on where, why and how you apply these bait styles to your fall bass fishing as prescribed by the man, KVD himself. Popper/Chuggers – “This is one of the best choices when the water isn’t super clear and there is isolated cover (targets). The design and action of these baits really lend themselves to accurate casting to individual targets. Now, the KVD Splash was also designed to be used in a walking fashion. This allows you cover more water and be more efficient between targets.”
Walking baits – “This is the go-to for open, clear water. This bait style is awesome for covering a lot of water such as offshore bars, main lake flats and the backs of bays. The KVD Sexy Dawg was designed to really “one up” the other walking baits out there. It will cast a mile which can be really important in clear, shallow water. It walks really easy and that allows you to cater the action you apply to the bait to the mood of the fish that particular day. And, it is loud! The Sexy Dawg will draw fish from a long way off with its louder sound. On calm, slick days, the Sexy Dawg JR is a great choice. On choppy water, the bigger version is best. Also, on bright, clear days try lighter, or more translucent colors. On cloudy and dark days and early and late, try darker colors such as our “Black Lab” color.”
Wake Baits – “There is no bait on earth draws more vicious strikes than our Wake Shad! Fish hit this bait with a full head of steam. It has an incredibly like-like profile and its action perfect mimics a distressed baitfish that has come to the surface in attempt to flee the scene. This bait is best employed in “spinnerbait-ish” conditions where the water is really clear. It’s equally good in wind and calm and comes through and over submerged vegetation surprisingly well.”
Buzz bait – “There’s never a bad time to throw a buzzbait, however, perfect conditions would be stained water and some sort of cover. Submerged grass, topped out grass, standing timber, bushes and the likes will offer perfect cover to throw a buzzbait around. Wind can also improve the open water bite as well. The buzzbait is a really efficient tool to cover water. We offer several different versions that each offer a strength of their own. For instance, the Mini Pro-Buzz is really good when it’s tough. The Tour Grade Buzzbait excels in clearer water. The Double Take is awesome in stained water. And, the all-new Swingin’ Sugar Buzz is probably the most versatile of all with its unique design and how it easily it can be modified. A good cloudy, rainy, windy day in the fall can be the stuff that dreams are made of when chunking a buzzbait!”
Here is another often-overlooked weapon when fishing on top this fall; a follow-up bait is critical. If you have a bass miss your bait, blow it out of the water, swirl on it or anything else along those lines, this is when you want to hit them in the head with your follow up bait. I don’t mean that you should cast it past them and then work it into the area where the missed strike occurred. I mean that you throw is with pinpoint precision to the spot where the near-miss took place. More times than not, they will inhale your follow-up offering. For this niche’ yet valuable role we recommend the Caffeine Shad. It is available in 4” which is good if you’re fishing for smaller fish. It comes in a 5” which is the perfect size for almost any scenario. And, it is newly-available in the 7” Mag size. This version is perfect for kicker size bass that are chasing mature bait. All 3 models are members of the KVD Perfect Plastic lineup which means that they are constructed with unique plastic parameters that ensure peak performance and action. In this case, the Caffeine Shad family are all built with super soft plastic that allows the most lifelike action of any soft jerkbait on the market, yet they also have a high salt content which adds weight for superior casting distance and also aids in the action of the bait.
So now you have all the info you need to effectively target and catch more and bigger bass on your home waters. On a side note, fishing with the aforementioned Strike King topwater baits is not for the faint of heart. We assume zero liability for strokes, heart attacks, bloody thumbs or soiled undergarments.
VanDam Catches Six Different Species on One Lure at Sturgeon Bay
Kevin VanDam is the greatest bass angler of past two decades, and the all-time leader in B.A.S.S. prize money, but based on the healthy abundance of species swimming in Lake Michigan, even “KVD” can’t predict what he’s going to catch on any given cast here at the Toyota Angler of the Year tournament out of Sturgeon Bay.
“In the four days I’ve been on the water, I’ve caught king salmon, steelhead, smallmouth bass, northern pike, perch and walleye,” grinned VanDam, a proud Michigan native.
“That’s the cool thing about fishing around the Great Lakes, you never know what you’re gonna catch, and there’s a good chance it will be big,” says VanDam.
“This steelhead I caught today probably weighed 10 pounds, and it came from the same exact rocky shoal where I caught a legitimate 6-pound smallmouth in practice,” added VanDam, showing a photo on his cell phone of the steelhead after Day 1 weigh-in as a storm pushed toward Centerpointe Marina.
Better yet, VanDam says you don’t need a ton of tackle to catch the wide variety of species that swim here. “All those species came on one lure, with one rod and reel – a Deep Diving Strike King KVD jerkbait, on a 6’ 10” medium-heavy Quantum TourKVD rod, and a Quantum EXO spooled with 12-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon.”
VanDam says the lure’s color is called “Crystal Shad” – but that its ability to get around 10-feet deep helps put it in the neighborhood where so many different species swim.
Fisheries biologist Gene Gilliland serves as National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S. and is onsite at Sturgeon Bay. He’s not surprised by VanDam’s multispecies success. “The Great Lakes have always been abundant with a variety of species, and that variety has been made even greater due to the stocking efforts of state agencies,” says Gilliland.
“For example, the steelhead Kevin caught is basically a sea-run rainbow trout, and rainbows are native to the Western US, so those fish are here directly as a result of being stocked,” illustrates Gilliland.
“As great as the smallmouth fishing can be around Door County, they actually play second fiddle in popularity to salmon, and even walleye and perch – it’s just a great and diverse fishery,” concludes Gilliland.