September has been a tough fishing month. It typically is for me. September is a time of change for us and the fish. The days are getting much shorter, much faster now, Air and water temperatures start to fall. This month they fell fast when we had our cool October like weather at the beginning of the month. Now, we are back to summer like weather and the surface temps rose a bit lately but still can’t make up for the heat loss at night. Fall has started, and the lakes are giving up their heat to the cool, long autumn nights.
The fish? I’ve been struggling to find them. I can find the bait though. In our alewife lakes, the bait is balled up pretty well. They still appear to be hanging over deeper water but it also appears as if they are not as deep as they were in August. As a matter of fact, I’ve witnessed several calm evenings when the bait balls were all over the surface. Yet, I have not seen any surface strikes attacking those schools. I’ve been searching for smallmouth bass as of late on my home waters of Highland but they don’t appear to be relating to any of the many deeper rocky spots. The trout are getting more active in some of those areas though. And the largemouth bass? It seems like there are SOME fish shallow but not really positioned in a way you can pattern well. One day you’ll get a couple from rocks, and the next day maybe a fish or two on docks. Then, nothing on rocks or docks but generally just meandering in 6 to 9 feet. September is a time of change.
Much of what we’ve seen or heard from various fishing sources says fall is a great time of the year. Both species of bass go on a major feeding blitz to build reserves for the upcoming winter that they sense is near. I’ve never really seen this feeding frenzy happen in our area. At least not to the extent that we may have been led to believe. The good thing is, we are quickly coming into October. By then, our water temps should continue to fall and the fishing should turn around and start getting good as it falls towards the low 50’s. Once the temperatures reach that level, I feel as if the fish really begin to understand the ice is near and they will get more predictable as to their locations. You may not always be able to get them to eat but at least you can feel more confident that you are actually around them. This ever changing month of September has them roaming all over and difficult (for me) to nail down what they are doing.
A jig and pig has been helping me catch a couple of fish this September but I also have been giving them a lot of different looks to. A square bill crankbait and a spinnerbait have been seeing use lately as well as a Ned rig and a shaky head. The Kietech swimbait that ought to be good now has not been producing at all (that will change soon.)Even the old standby of a curl tail grub on a 1/8 oz. ball head just isn’t doing as well as it should. The venerable Senko has been dusted off and has seem some action also but again, very limited success. So, I guess I need to listen to what the Pro’s might say and just go out there and do what you do best and grind it out. I will put the jig in my hand and stay shallow for most of the day poking around the rocks, docks, and weeds. Will I still look deep? Absolutely! I just won’t get locked into it until I find them. Hope you all are having more success fishing in September than I am.
July 18, 2017
Summertime! My most productive time of the year. Generally, from late July through August there is a good population of bass that have moved off of the bank and onto and into some deeper water. During the daylight, give me two rods. One rigged with some kind of jig type bait, and the other being a dropshot rod.
Once the fish get out to 13 feet or grater in our area waters, they become easy targets for the drop shot technique. The overall set up is relatively simple. You have a weight attached to the end of your line with a small, thin wire hook attached about a foot above the weight. Attach a numerous array of soft plastic worms, minnow imitators, or crawfish and, you are going to get bit. If not by bass, nearly all other fish see your bait as a feeding opportunity. If you like fishing a Senko weightless, wacky style, the drop shot may be right up your ally. As there are many methods to fishing (i.e.) retrieving a drop shot, the majority of your bites will come as the bait is sitting still. Just as the Senko works best allowed to fall on a free line, the drop shot can often be at its prime while sitting still.
For me, a good drop shot bait has to float. Or at least not sink fast. A bait such as a 4” Roboworm will generally float the light wire hook off the bottom weed or muck. The 4” Lunker City Ribster, and Gary Yamamoto, Shad Shape Worm are also good choices as well as the Z-Man Finesse Shad. All of these baits have a tendency to float and imitate a small baitfish almost perfectly. Enough of the baits. I’ll leave that to the marketers who. By the way do a great job offering us very style and color imaginable. I’m nor sponsored by any of them.
What is the perfect rod and reel for dropshotting? Everyone has their own preferences but, I want a high speed spinning reel (6:1 or greater) in the 200 class paired with a lighter rod in a Medium action with a moderate power, around 7 feet long. I first started dropshotting using 6# P-Line Flouroclear line (which is outstanding light line for ANY application) but moved to 10# Power Pro braided line. This year, I moved to the same line but in yellow. Due to eye sight and many missed fish on the drop I made this adjustment and so far so good. With the braid, especially the yellow, I am tying on the 6# P-Line Fluoroclear as a leader, about 8 feet long, using a simple and fast Uni to Uni knot. I use a Gamakutsu #2 Split shot/drop shot hook. The next size up moves to a heavier wire and changes the presentation. It is absolutely amazing on how well this tiny hook sticks the fish. And lastly, the weight. I prefer the ¼ oz. Linker City Bakudan SKINNY” OR “PENCIL” WEIGHT. The thin cylindrical weight MAY come through the cover better. After the uni to uni knot, and about 8 feet of leader, I tie the small Gamakatsu hook about 1 foot of the end of the line using a Palomar knot. The tag end of that knot will be re-inserted through the eye of the hook dropping downwards and the weight simply pinches to the bottom of that line.
The retrieve, can vary from a slow pull to sitting absolutely motionless. Sometimes they want that bait quivering which you can do by shaking the rod tip on a slack line, while at other times they may want you to cover some ground and pull it slowly across the bottom. The retrieve largely depends on the mood of the fish so let them tell you how they want it. All fish seem to want this bait, it takes a bit of time to figure out what type of bite is a bass bite and which are nuisance fish. Either way, in the summer time this rig will get enough bites to keep your interest level up.
The hook set. Due to the nature of that small hook, and if you are using braided line, your hook set does not need to be violent. Contrary to the typical rubber worm hookset, most times with the drop shot it is no more than a “Lift and reel” situation. That tiny light wire hook often stabs them itself as soon as you put pressure on the line. From then on through the battle is usually up to your drag, and the rod. Crank when the fish is not pulling, and let the rod absorb the shock when they are pulling. Even using a light monofilament line, you usually do not need to give the hook a monster hook set.
The great thing about the drop shot is that it can be used not only in the summertime but the spring in shallow water can be pretty productive as well as the fall and winter when the fish get grouped up on points and sharp drops. All the modern electric sonar units on the market now may give you an opportunity to “video fish”. In the late fall/early winter time, you can mark individual fish on your sonar and drop you rig on top them and most likely catch that same fish. Myself and others have also used the drop shot while ice fishing. It works! Not all the time, but enough to keep me coming back to it but, in the summertime when the bass are setting up on their deep stuff, it is definitely one of my preferred techniques.