November is a month of choice for bass fishermen around South Carolina. Things can go one of two ways. You can either plan to fish through the rest of the fall and into the winter, or you can put your tackle away and concentrate on deer hunting until New Year’s, and maybe duck hunting for a month after that.
In either case, you have some things to start thinking about.
If you plan to spend the rest of the fall and winter hunting and pull your boat and tackle back out in February, here are a few steps to take:
You need to winterize your engine. You can take it to a marine dealer and have it done, or two save a few dollars, you can do it yourself. First, an ounce of a fuel conditioner like Sta-Bil for each gallon of gas in the tank, then flush the motor completely by hooking up a flushing unit and running it for about 5 minutes. Disconnect the fuel line from the motor and let it sputter to a stop, then drain fuel from the carburetor.
Remove spark plugs and squirt some rust-preventive oil into each cylinder, then put the spark plugs back in, leaving the plug wires disconnected.
I like to drain all the water from the lower unit and replace the lubricant.
You want to get all the water out of your boat – the hull, the pumps, the compartments. If you leave water in there, especially in the pumps, they can be damaged if the winter gets real cold and the water freezes in there. Drain the pumps, dry out the hull, dry out your compartments.
One thing a lot of people overlook in the fall is moisture in their tackle boxes. You might have had them open when it rained, or there’s water in a compartment that gets in there. If you get moisture in your tackle box and you don’t open it for a few months, you’ll have nothing but rusty hooks left, and you have to throw them all away — that’s a big waste of money. I’ll open all my boxes and air them out, and I’ll even spray a little WD-40 in the boxes that hold my hooks. You can also get the little gel packs that shoe stores put in boxes with new shoes and put them in each of the boxes that store tackle; they will take moisture out of everything they’re stored with. If you don’t do something like this, you’ll be in trouble.
I like to clean up all of my reels before I put them up. I want them to be ready to go right away in February when I start back. It’s important to have them clean through the winter instead of waiting until you get ready to fish again to clean them.
Now, if you’re planning to fish in November and December, all you have to know is that it’s obviously a great time of year to fish. The recreational boat traffic on our reservoirs is minimal, so it’s a great time to be on the water. Plus, there’s a lot of good fishing. The key is to be able to find the baitfish. Typically, they’ve moved to the backs of creeks and coves by November, and where you find them, you’ll find a lot of them — and a lot of bass. I like to ride around at about 20 or 25 mph and look at my electronics, my Humminbird 1198, and find baitfish.
If it’s been a warm fall, you can still get a good topwater bite, but if it’s cold, I love to fish a Mop Jig in November, December and January. I’ll catch some fish on a jigging spoon, but usually later in the winter when the weather really cools off. You will often find baitfish up in the water column in the fall, and when I do, I’m going to fish a Shad Rap or an X-Rap, which is a jerkbait. Shad Raps are probably the best fall crankbaits ever made. I want to be able to fish those two baits through the suspended bass I find around the baitfish.
If I find the baitfish on the bottom I’ll fish a big Mop Jig, or if it’s colder, I’ll pull out a jigging spoon.
More than any other time of the year, bass will be keying on baitfish. Find them, and you’ll get well catching bass real quick.
So either choice you make, take care of the details and your fishing — either in November or in March — will be a lot better.