Fall bass fishing can be feast or famine. Unfortunately, the weather dictates which one of these situations an angler will face. Elite Series pro Kelley Jaye faced one of the toughest conditions possible on this October outing: bluebird skies without a breath of wind. As you will see, the bass were spooky. Follow his lead, though, and you can scratch out bites when other anglers zero.
6:40 a.m. It’s dark and 48 degrees when Jaye and I arrive at Lake L’s launch ramp. He pulls several ALX rods equipped with Lew’s reels from storage. “This is starting off to be a typical fall day: cool in the morning and heating up by noon,” he says. “This area has had almost no rainfall since early August, paired with record high temperatures the past week. With little runoff, I expect the lake to be clear, which works for me because I love throwing jerkbaits.” Jaye preps the Ranger for launching.
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7 a.m. We launch the Ranger. Jaye checks Lake L’s surface temp: 58 degrees. “I expect to see the water temp rise to near 70 degrees by late morning. I anticipate a typical fall pattern, with bass feeding up on shad. Moving baits tend to work best now; I’ll start out with topwater and then try a jerkbait.”
7:06 a.m. Jaye makes a short run to Lake L’s dam, where he makes his first casts of the day with a bone colored River2Sea Whopper Plopper surface bait. He retrieves it steadily parallel to riprap. “This lure imitates an injured shad.”
7:12 a.m. Jaye’s graph shows the water temp slowly rising and baitfish schools suspended off a ledge in front of the dam. He switches to a green and white Megabass Ito Shiner jerkbait, slice casting it to the riprap and retrieving it with quick, hard jerks. “In cold water, you want lighter jerks and longer pauses, but in this temperature range, you want to fish it aggressively.”
7:18 a.m. Jaye tries a green and white Storm Chug Bug topwater chugger. “The newer Chug Bugs have internal rattles; this is a 15-year-old plug with no rattles. It sits higher in the water and spits better.” A bass swirls on the bait as he works it around the riprap; Jaye reels in quickly and casts a half-ounce brown and purple (pbj) Chomper’s jig with a green pumpkin Yamamoto Twin Tail grub trailer to the fish. No takers.