With the summer fishing finally coming to a close, many anglers are off in search of main lake schools of shad and the bass that follow them. These schools of baitfish will slowly find their way into a lake’s coves in search of cooler, oxygenated water. The bass will follow and gorge themselves on the schools whenever the need arises.
Tournament anglers would be wise not to base their tourney success on schooling fish. Many anglers consider schooling fish to be a bonus. Schooling fish are easily sounded, sending the baitfish and the predator fish into suspended positions in the water column. This situation makes it much more difficult to catch these fish. At the very least, it is more difficult than with a topwater bait a Zara Spook, Pop-R, or floating jerkbait.
But just because a school of bass has sounded and retreated to a suspended position does not mean that the fish are unwilling to inhale certain lures. In situations like these, anglers would be wise to turn to some of fishing’s most basic baits. Blade baits such as spoons, Vib-“E”s, and spinnerbaits used at the game fish’s level can score weight for your livewell. Spoons come in a variety of sizes to suit every situation. Basic colors are white, chrome silver, and gold. These colors should be the staples in your tackle box. Personally, I prefer spoons in ½ to 1 ounce sizes in Ohio. The weight of such lures gives the bait an opportunity to fall through the school of baitfish and/or any other game fish that might be present, such as white bass and crappies. On cloudy days, I prefer white spoons, while sunny days call for the silver or gold spoons. I believe the white stands out better on overcast days, while the gold or silver will create great flash on sunny days. Another great choice for anglers is the Vib-“E”, or baits similar to it such as the Reef Runner Cicada and the Bass Pro Shops XPS Lazer Blade. Much like the spoon, this blade bait creates a tremendous amount of flash to go with a great deal of vibration. Where the spoon excels in a horizontal presentation, the Vib-“E” may excel best in a vertical presentation. This gives the angler the ability to position his/her boat above the school of baitfish and fish the lure directly amongst the school. Blade baits such as these can be found in sizes ranging from 1/16th to ¾ ounce, but I feel it is important to use the heaviest lure you can get away with. Doing so will allow the bait to get through the school of baitfish and any undesirable game fish quickly. Many of these baits come in chrome-based colors, but some companies offer baits in every color of the rainbow. In my opinion spinnerbaits are the most versatile lure in an angler’s arsenal. These baits come in every color and size imaginable, and can be used in a multitude of ways. They can be cast great distances and worked through schools of bait fish, or the can be used vertically in amongst the baitfish. As with any of the baits mentioned, the angler should choose a bait to “match the hatch”, often matching the size of the blade to the size of the baitfish in your local lake or river. So sharpen your blades and catch more fish this fall!
Eric Huber is a staff writer for UltimateBass.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.