Start thinking about fall

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James Overstreet

In the last column we talked about how to handle hot weather and hot water. That might have been written a little early because the weather’s been even hotter after that column was published, and it’s still that way here in the Midwest. Nevertheless, the bass are getting ready for the fall feed.

A few weeks ago I fished a little Thursday night deal on the Ohio River. I wanted to see some of my old friends and competitors and relive the beginnings of my career. My partner and I caught a limit that weighed 6 pounds. We finished third. The winning team had 8 pounds and the second place slot had just a little less than that — but they had a 3-pound smallmouth in their bag.

OK, go ahead and laugh. I know the river is a standing joke with serious bass anglers. But when you’re done, wipe the tears out of your eyes and continue reading. How we found them and how we caught them is universal around the country.

We started in a creek. After we idled along through an awful lot of water that had nothing going on in it we eased into a small pool. The shad were flipping around everywhere. It looked like raindrops hitting the water.

This is a fairly typical late summer happening, and it’ll get more frequent as we get closer and closer to fall. Most of the water looks like the Dead Sea but there will be places — almost always shallow — that’ll hold baitfish. And, where there’s baitfish there will be bass.

I’m not much on rules when it comes to bass fishing. Nothing works all the time, and nothing fails all the time. But there is an exception late in the year when you’re fishing shallow: no bait, no cast. I’ve said before, I know, but it’s one of those things that we all need to keep in mind.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you’re reading a Bill Lowen column. Shallow means really shallow. I’m talking about water that’s less than 3 feet deep. That’s a typical depth in most waters, especially river systems. There are places, however, where shallow means a little deeper, but it never means anything close to 10 or 15 feet.

Choosing a bait is an individual choice. If you’re fishing a moving bait, you’ll want something that runs off the bottom but not by much. There’s not much water depth so you don’t have to get real technical here. Square bill crankbaits and spinnerbaits are always good choices. Something to flip and pitch will catch them, too, if you can get into where they are without spooking them.

Another super good option is a buzzbait. They’ll bust them at any time of the day and under any water conditions. You can make your own choice but for my money one of the best is made by Lure Parts Online.

No matter what lure you throw make sure the hooks are sharp. If they’re dull or have a barb on the point, touch it up with a fine file. If they’re in really bad shape, change them. These are shallow fish. They’ll jump and shake all over the place. Hooking one of them is a ton of fun. It’s more fun, though, if you get them to the boat.