Over the past 40 years, I’ve won a lot of bass tournaments in September. But I’m not about to fool anybody into thinking it is a great month to be on the water. On the contrary, it might be the toughest month to fish — for several reasons.
First, we usually don’t have a lot of rain this time of year. So there isn’t much water flow in our lakes, and that doesn’t help. Deep fish on the main lake usually won’t bite without water flow. So they don’t bite as well in September.
Second, they’re in transition. They’re starting to think about going up in the creeks. And some are already in the creeks. But mostly, bass are on the move. By the end of the month, you’ll have some moving up in the creeks and biting. But that’s more of an October thing. September fish are tough.
A lot of times, we resort to going up the river to fish in September. Or you can go to the backs of some creeks and catch some resident fish. But these fish are harder to keep up with, because they are moving so much. They can be in one place one day, then gone the next.
One thing that will help is to lower your sights a little bit. Know that weights aren’t going to be as good as they usually are. If you catch 18 pounds, you’re usually going to win a tournament. September is a month when 15, 16 or 17 pounds is a great weight. I enjoy it, even though I know it’s going to be a struggle.
Wood is good
The place to start is on wood. Wood is your No. 1 cover in September, by far, whether it’s stumps, brush or laydown trees. Those are the kinds of places where bass will hold. If you know where a big, isolated stump is, that’s good for a big fish. But I like to find stump rows, because they can hold more fish. You can possibly catch a limit on a stump row. If you have a perfect brush pile in 10 or 12 feet of water, you can do well.
September is definitely a crankbait month, because a crankbait can trigger a sluggish fish into biting like no other lure can. If you get a good rain and some dirty water up the river or in the back of a creek, you might catch a few bass on a spinnerbait or a bladed jig. But crankbaits are the way to go. The Berkley Dredger 14.5 and 17.5 can be key baits this month. If you get some color in the river, it could be a Frittside Biggun’, a good 6-foot bait. You find a brush pile in 10 feet of water, you can get a Biggun’ down to the top of it and catch fish. And don’t forget about a Berkley Digger. I think it might be the most overlooked bait in our line. It fishes like an old Killer B2, with a real wide action. It can be especially good in late September.
10-pound test line
Colors? All of your chartreuses can be really good in September. Those colors really start to come on as fall approaches. I love the Lone Ranger color, which is chartreuse with a silver back. Spicy Mustard, which is chartreuse/brown back, is good. Rubbertail bream and Honey Shad are really good colors. Lone Ranger is a little more faded. I think it catches so many good fish. And Kentucky Blue has to be one of your top three colors all year. I always keep one tied on.
Where you find fish will point you to your tackle choices. Most of the time, if you find fish deep, you’ll want to have a 7-foot-6, 7-foot-11 or even a 9-foot Lew’s David Fritts Perfect Crankbait Rod because you’ll need long casts to get the bait down.
If you find bass a little shallower – or later in the month and into October when they move up – you’re going to want the 7-foot or 6-foot-8 rod. I match them all with a Lew’s BB-1 Pro reel with a 6.2-to-1 retrieve ratio, spooled with 10-pound Sensation.
Ten-pound test line will get you more bites than 14-pound. That’s been proven every month of the year. We design and build these baits around 10-pound line.
As far as retrieve speed, 6.2-to-1 is fine. Just don’t burn the bait back too quickly. If you’re losing fish, slow down. Wind the bait back fast enough to get some action, but not so fast that they can’t get it good.
Long rods, long casts:
Crankbaits are designed to run at certain depths, but they can only get to their deepest depths if they have enough ground to cover during the retrieve. Making long casts, which is easier with long rods, will allow that lure enough real estate to reach its maximum depth before getting back to the boat.