Walking the Dog in the Fall

by Jay Striker

Topwater fishing is one of the best ways to catch fish in the fall. When the water temps start to fall and the leaves begin to turn colors, all I think about is throwing topwater baits and waiting for some of the most explosive strikes that makes me fall in love with topwater fishing. Let’s consider some of my go-to baits, where I like to target topwater bass and those high percentage areas where you will most likely get bit this time of year.
Topwater Baits: Getting bass to bite a topwater bait is all about cadence and rhythm, meaning how I work my bait back to the boat. However, what baits I throw are key. I will primarily use two types of topwater baits to get strikes. One is the Fish Head Primal Buzzbait, and the other is a stick bait such as a Zara Spook. When the water in the fall begins to get a little stained, I know that the fish will need a little help keying in on my baits, so I will always throw the Primal Buzz to help the fish tune in on the bait and locate it really well. One trick I use on my buzzbait is to cup the blades out a little bit more to displace a little bit more water and cause the fish to track it faster.
The old tried and true topwater plug to throw in the fall is a big Zara Spook. I like to throw it on a 7-foot medium heavy rod with a fast tip so the bait won’t get slung out of the fish’s mouth when the bass jumps. Use a cadence when working this bait, because the cadence is what dials the fish in on the bait from long distances.
Areas to Target: When locating the right places to throw topwater baits in lakes such as Lanier and Hartwell, I find points close to deep water, rip-rap near deep water, laydowns and in open water over brush. If I get a good bite, I want to see what type of cover or structure the fish is relating to. However, topwater baits do have their limitations. All topwater baits can’t be used everywhere. I can’t throw my Zara Spook in grass that is out of the water as it will get hung, but I can throw it over grass that is submerged just below the surface and have some heart stopping strikes, many of them right at the boat. The buzzbait can be thrown in places that I could not get away with using the Spook. The Primal Buzzbait only has one hook, versus the Spook with six. I can get the buzzbait in more places and can cover a lot of water.
Fall is here and this is the time of year where you really only need a few baits in your boat to be successful. The Fish Head Primal Buzz and a big Zara Spook are my favorites this time of the year, hands down. If you throw them in high percentage places, you will find that this time of year can be the best time to catch some big fish.
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