Bass fishing at Shearon Harris Lake south of Raleigh, N.C., will catch its second wind when October brings real, noticeable change to conditions.
While fish can be caught before and during the fall turnover, the real fun begins when the debris settles and water temperatures hold in the low 70s. That’s when big bass get down to the business of fattening up on shad for the winter.
“We’ll start to get a turnover in early October if we’ve had a couple of cold spells,” said Jaime Fajardo, a veteran angler from Fuquay-Varina, N.C. “At this time, the fish will be suspended in the water column and hard to catch. You can throw a fish-head spin or a swimbait; topwater baits will also be good for the fish that stay on the main lake.
A Rat-L-Trap, shaky head or Texas-rigged worm will work for the fish that move to the backs of the creeks. But once the turnover has settled down — it’s usually over in three to five days unless it warms up and starts over again — those fish will sit back down on the bottom of the long main lake points in 13 to 18 feet of water. Pretty much all of the best points will be at the mouths of creeks. They’ll start to group up tighter and really key in on shad.
According to Fajardo, shad-mimicking baits, like deep-diving crankbaits, Alabama rigs and swimbaits will out-produce worms. The crankbait an angler uses will need to bump bottom in 13 to 18 feet of water; a Strike King 5XD will cover the shallow end of this range, while the 6XD will cover the deeper end. Blue/ chartreuse is Fajardo’s go-to fall color.
Alabama rigs and swimbaits are best in pearl or albino. Fajardo will cast these soft plastics and allow them to hit bottom before beginning a slow retrieve, often eliciting a strike on the initial fall. Later in the month, he’ll switch over to a spoon.
“The fish will start getting focused on smaller baits, and you won’t be able to catch them with a crank,” Fajardo said. “I’ll start using a 7/8-ounce War Eagle jigging spoon in gold. Once I see the fish on my depth finder, I’ll back off and cast to them. I work it back close to the bottom and pop it like a worm.”
Fajardo said anglers should check out the list of fish attractors placed on Shearon Harris by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Their waypoints can be found on the Commission’s website at www.ncpaws.org/ncwrcmaps/fishattractors. Many of them are in key areas for October. They are mostly inhabited by crappie, but bass will lie on the outside perimeter in ambush.
JOIN THE CLUB, get unlimited access for $2.99/month
Become the most informed Sportsman you know, with a membership to the Carolina Sportsman Magazine and CarolinaSportsman.com.