October can be crankbait feast

Bumping crankbaits off stumps is a prime tactic to catch October largemouth bass.

Because I love to fish crankbaits, October is a month that I look forward to long before it gets here.

A crankbait is definitely the best bait to use in October, and the bass are usually hungry, feeding up for the winter and very aggressive.

You can expect some really good fishing.

You can find bass in October anywhere from 2- to 15-feet deep, but by the middle of the month, we’ve usually had enough of a cool-down that you can fish shallow-running crankbaits like a Rapala DT-6 or a DT-Fat 3. Bass are moving back into creeks in search of shad or other baitfish, and if you find ’em, you can really catch ’em.

Here’s what I look for:

Bass should be up in the creeks real good. They might be at some sharp, vertical drops, or they may be up on the flats, or they may be holding at things like road beds or creek-channel drops.

Even when they’re toward the back of a creek, you still look for the deepest drop. If you’re all the way back and it’s 10-feet deep on one bank and 5-feet deep on the other, the deeper side always will be better.

There isn’t any hard or fast rule about which creek they’ll be in the best. That’s what you have to find out by fishing.

If a lake has a creek that’s usually a pretty good creek to fish, you can bet it’ll be really good in the fall.

I know when it comes to Buggs Island and Gaston, two of our better lakes in North Carolina, the creeks near the middle of the lakes are really, really good.

Other than having some favorite creeks picked out before you get to the lake, the best thing you can do is run around and look for baitfish — either shad flipping on the surface or balls of bait you see on your depth-finder.

Because most of the lakes already will have turned over by the time October arrives, finding pretty water to fish is no problem. So I’ll usually start fishing about three-quarters of the way back in a creek and fish my way out until I find where they’re biting.

It might be that they’re still biting out at the main lake. In fact, there are two patterns I really look forward to fishing in October — back in the creeks, and out on the main lake.

Fish will get on bluff walls or rocky, main-lake points — any deep bank that’s got cover. I think that just like in the spring, when you get some fish spawning at main-lake pockets, there are just some bass that aren’t ever going to go back in the creeks. They’re going to live in the main lake.

Anyway, what I’m looking to fish is visible cover. I’d rather fish stumps than anything else.

If I’m sitting in 10 or 15 feet of water, and I can see about 3-feet deep and just barely see the tops of stumps or just dark spots in the water, that’s the kind of place I want to fish.

That’s always been the primary pattern I’ve looked to fish in the fall. Rocks can be good too — if there are rocks you can hit with your crankbait when you’re sitting in 15 feet of water, those are great places to fish.

Crankbaits are great tools for fishing stumps that are anywhere from 3- to 6-feet deep. Stumps can be good at flats, but the best stumps are either going to be close to the dropoff or close to a ditch — some kind of deep water.

You rarely need a bait that will run as deep as a DT-10. A DT-6 or DT-Flat 3 is usually enough. A DT-Flat 3 is a newer bait that has a wide wobble. It reminds me of an old DB-2 with the small lip. You want to bang that bait off the stumps or rocks and get some kind of a reaction strike.

As far as color selection, you want some kind of shad pattern. Grey ghost is great, the old “carp” color, the one we called “plum shad” and even chartreuse with a green back is good. There isn’t a bass around that won’t hit one of those colors in the fall.

When I find a concentration of bass, I’ll stay on it. Unlike August and September, when you were catching one fish here and one fish there, you can load up on ’em in October. They’ll be ganged up around the bait, and they’ll be aggressive.

To increase the ratio of fish I get in the boat, I stick pretty much with the VMC Sure Set treble hooks — the hooks that have one barb that’s so much bigger than the other.

Unlike a lot of fishermen, I like to use really small trebles on my baits — sometimes smaller than the manufacturers use. If bass aren’t biting real well, I’ll switch out my hooks to smaller sizes. I’ll maybe go from a 6 to an 8, or a 5 to a 6 on a lure.

The really small hooks are deadly; they’ll hook fish that barely breathe on a bait. And I think the action of the bait is better with smaller hooks.

That’s one reason I stick with 10-pound test line most of the time in the fall, even fishing around cover like stumps. That lighter line will give the bait more action, and you can get a few more reaction strikes that way.

One thing that’s good about fishing in October, especially for guys who can only get away for one or two days a week is that the fish don’t move great distances — at least once you’ve found them.

If you find fish at one section of a creek one day, they’ll usually be pretty close by the next day. The only time they’ll really move is when the moon changes. When you get a full moon, the fish are liable to move a ways when it passes.


David Fritts is a 51-year-old pro bass fisherman from Lexington. He won the 1993 Bassmasters Classic champion, the 1997 FLW Tour Championship and the 1994 Bass Angler of the Year title. He is sponsored by Ranger boats, Evinrude outboards, Rapala, Zoom, VMC, American RodSmiths, Bass Pro Shops and Chevrolet.

About David Fritts 128 Articles
David Fritts is a 61-year-old pro bass fisherman from Lexington, N.C. He won the 1993 Bassmasters Classic champion and the 1997 FLW Tour Championship, and he was the 1994 BASS Angler of the Year. He is sponsored by Ranger boats, Evinrude outboards, Lew’s, Minnkota,and Berkley.

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