A hot spotted bass bite has brought the fall fishing season home to Lake Russell in a big way, with lots of spots busting multiple lures at various depths.
Guide Wendell Wilson has been putting clients on a lot of fish when they want to focus on bass, and the spotted bass are being pulled over the gunwales using a variety of methods and in big numbers and sizes.
“October is a very underrated month for spotted bass on Lake Russell,” Wilson said. “Not many fishermen are out right now, but I’d rate this month as my second-favorite time of the year – not far behind the spring peak – for catching quantity and quality spotted bass. We’re catching a few largemouths as well.”
Wilson (705-283-3336) said his clients are catching big numbers of bass and culling many, with fish recently caught up to 5 pounds.
“We’re doing really well in two distinct ways,” he said. “First, artificial lures have been productive, but on some days, they’re not the best choice. For those days, I also carry live bait, and I’ve found that one technique or the other – or both on good days – will enable us to enjoy action throughout the day.”
Wilson said one of the top lures has been a combination he refers to as a “Jig and Popper.”
“It’s a simple but specific combination of a Pop-R trailing a 1/16-ounce white hair jig, not a curlytail plastic, and I trail it about 18 inches behind the lure,” Wilson said. “It does make a big difference to use a small white hair jig. We’re typically seeing a lot of schooling action on most days, and it can occur throughout the day. The Jig and Popper rig has been lethal, and often, it’s the small jig that actually hooks the fish because it imitates the size of forage bass currently prefer. But they’ll also explode on the Pop-R. Sometimes we’ll double up and get two at a time. That’s good action.”
Wilson has been fishing in large coves or creeks off the main channel where baitfish are congregated. The water may be 20 feet deep or more, but the fish will often school in that open water, especially over humps and the end of long points.
Wilson also said that the drop-shot rig is also very productive, especially using a worm with a greenish hue.
“On Lake Russell, I’ve found that any greenish (color) will work,” he said. “Also, if fish are schooling near the shoreline points, two other favorite lures are a No. 5 Shad Rap in a shad pattern and a ¼-ounce Rat-L-Trap in blue and silver.
“Some anglers prefer artificials, but live bait is lethal right now, and I’ve had some anglers undergo a live-bait conversion in my boat recently,” Wilson said. “I have two basic live-bait methods, and one is to simply use a drop-shot rig with a 2-inch shiner minnow instead of a soft-plastic lure, working it over humps, long points or around brush on flats. Also, when working the deeper areas or looking for the larger fish, I’ll free-line a blueback herring on a rig trailed behind the boat. When we start picking up larger spotted bass I’ll get the herring out. Odds of a trophy fish hookup increase with that bait.”
Wilson is using 6-pound P-Line on Sabalos spinning reels paired with Eagle Claw ultralight rods.
“The light line in this clear water gives us an edge,” he said. “We have to be a bit more cautious working a large bass, but we’ll get noticeably more bites during the day.”