October Zone 5

Zone 5 – October

Strike King pro Mark Zona loves fishing Zone 5 in October as its historically one of the best months to land the biggest smallmouth of the year.

The clear and sunny days aren’t the ones you need for huge bites in October, Zona explains. “The two best times of year to catch the biggest smallmouth in your life is pre-spawn in April and then in the month of October. Generally, the nastiest weather days in October are some of the best,” shares Zona.

Zona focuses on flats and various types of cover to target huge smallmouth. “Whenever I'm smallmouth fishing, I'm looking for a combination of cover. Grass meets rock, rock meets sand, sand meets gravel. Any combination of two kinds of cover. The best areas are places where two kinds of cover come together. Smallies use these as ‘stop signs’ to feed. Generally, in the month of October, I will always try to locate fish near some sort of flat. You do NOT want a vertical drop. Flats are where you'll find schools roaming around and hunting,” advises Zona.

Zone 5 map

Strike King KVD Sexy Dawg
 KVD Sexy Dawg


BAIT 1: Strike King Sexy Dawg

If the water is clear, Zona prefers Sugar Daddy. In stained water, he switches to Bone.

“October is one of my absolute favorite months for topwater. The KVD Sexy Dawg is my go-to lure because I can absolutely launch it, which is critical as I’m using this bait not only to generate some of the most aggressive topwater strikes you’ll ever experience, but also making fish show themselves. Even if they miss it, you’ll be able to dial in the location of the school. I’m fishing it anywhere from 0- to 20-feet of water,” Zona says.

Strike King Umbrella Rig
Titanium Umbrella Rig


BAIT 2: Strike King Titanium Umbrella Rig with 3.75" Rage Swimmer Trailer


When using the Tour Grade Titanium Umbrella Rig, it's important to chose the right trailer color. Zona’s choice for clear water is Pro Blue Red Pearl Rage Swimmer, while he opts for AYU if the water is stained. Pearl Flash is his go-to in muddy water.

“One of the common misconceptions about an umbrella rig is that it's exclusively a deep-water technique. I'm literally fishing this in 0- to 40-feet. It's incredibly powerful throwing it shallower in the areas where you'd also throw a bladed jig or a spinnerbait. I’m tying up 3/16 oz. jig heads when fishing shallower. When fishing deeper, I throw 3/16 oz. on all but the bottom wire, where I use a 1/4 oz. to balance things out. October is also when smallmouth tend to group up together the tightest, so you'll have opportunities to repeatedly catch multiples on a single cast. Try to resist from setting the hook on the first fish that hits - wait and the other will come get it. I'm burning it in 0-15 and slow rolling it just above the bottom in 15- to 40-feet,” shares Zona.

Strike King Thunder Cricket
3/4oz Thunder Cricket


BAIT 3: Strike King Thunder Cricket with Blade Minnow Trailer

Zona carefully chooses which trailer color to use when fishing the Thunder Cricket. He opts for Green Pumpkin with a matching Green Pumpkin Blade Minnow in clear water, and switches to Blue Craw with matching Blue Craw trailer if the water is stained. For low-vis conditions, Zona prefers the White with Pearl Flash trailer.

“Generally, I'm fishing this on 20 lb. line, and unlike largemouth fishing with a Thunder Cricket, I'm speed reeling this under the surface as fast as possible anywhere from 0- to 10-feet. I'm using a Blade Minnow as a trailer here because it's cuts the water fast and allows me to burn it quickly,” shares Zona. 

Strike King Elite Jerkbait
KVD J300 Elite Jerkbait


BAIT 4: Strike King KVD J300 Elite Jerkbait


If the water is clear, he will throw Crystal Shad KVD J300 Elite Jerkbait, while more stained water calls for AYU. Zona picks up Oyster in muddy water.

“The key with fishing a jerkbait in October is being aggressive with your retrieve. I’m twitching this bait as fast as I can in 5- to 20-feet. Keying in on locations where two different types of cover come together,” Zona advises.

Strike King Denny Coffee Tube
Coffee Tube 3.5"


BAIT 5: Strike King 3.5" Coffee Tube on 3/8oz Tour Grade Crackin' Tube Head

For the 3.5" Coffee Tube, he opts for KVD Kick in clear water. If the water is stained or muddy, he will throw Green Pumpkin Purple Flake.

“Once I locate them with the first four lures, I'm slowing it down and cleaning up with a tube. My go-to size is a 3/8 oz Crackin' Tube Head in 5- to 20-feet of water. Biggest thing in October, when you've found one, you've found a load of them, because they are grouped up tighter right now than any other time of year,” Zona says.