Bass anglers love November
You can come up with a lot of good reasons to take your bass boat to the lake in November. But one especially stands out: a lot of people are hunting, and most of the jet skis and ski boats are gone. You can get back to the old days of fishing.
Now, that’s not the only reason, even if it’s a great one. Building on that is the fact that those guys sitting in deer stands are missing out on some great fishing, because the water is cooling, the days are getting shorter and fish are feeding up before the winter arrives.
November is sort of like October, in that it’s a month when fishing depends a lot on the weather. It can be a split month if it gets cold early. The first half can fish like fall and the second half like winter. But that’s unusual. Typically, it’s a great time to put your trolling motor down and go looking.
Generally, fish are in transition. They are either moving deeper or shallower, and in most lakes in the Carolinas – at least in North Carolina – they are moving shallow. They will get on rocks and wood, and the combination of the two is great. But the real key is being close to deep water. Riprap starts to get productive. Rocky points get good and channel swings are excellent.
Your deep fish are going to be near the mouths of creeks or on the main lake, and it’s hit-and-miss fishing, with either a jig or jigging spoon. That’s one reason I like to stay well into creeks this month. Some fish, I’ve found, like to overwinter in the creeks and never move back to the main lake.
Many of our lakes have plenty of tributary creeks. So it’s a matter of making the right choice. Listen to the locals about which creeks are good in fall. You want to fish a creek with a deep channel – not a 2- to 3-foot channel, but a creek that really drops off into the channel. You want 10 or 15 feet of water in the channel as you get to the back of the creek. That’s because the baitfish will get in those kinds of creeks. Those creeks usually have a lot of water flow.
On High Rock Lake, Abbotts Creek has a 10-foot channel in the back. On Lake Norman, it’s Mountain Creek. On Wylie, it’s the South Fork and Catawba Creek. At Buggs Island, you can get bit in Nutbush, but Grassy Creek is better. Butcher Creek is just as good, and Bluestone may be my favorite. It’s overlooked, and it holds a lot of big fish.
Once you’ve decided on a creek, the No. 1 key is being close to deep water – not necessarily in it, but close to it. Most fish will be up.
By November, you’re going to be fishing 10 feet or shallower. Fish will get on channel breaks back in the creeks, or on shallow channel bends. You’re looking to fish places that are 5 or 6 feet deep, with the water falling into 10 feet.
If you get some cold-weather days, rocks will warm up better and fish will get on them. Stump rows along channel bends or drops are even better; fish love them in November.
This month, I’ll be hunting for them with my baits – old school. November is a month when you can do that, because a lot of times fish will be tight on the bottom, under a stump, in places where you can’t see ‘em as well with your electronics. That helps us old guys who are used to trying to find fish with our baits.
Keep in mind that a lot of times as the water cools, fish may be sluggish. You’ve gotta coax them into biting. You have to adjust to the color of the water and them being sluggish – how you wind your baits back in. And November isn’t like the prespawn and post-spawn when you can catch five on one stump. There can be three or four here and there, but not loaded up on any place.
Cast at targets
Since these fish are fairly shallow, you can get to them with a Frittside or a Berkley SquareBull. I really like the Frittside Biggun’, a 3-inch bait that will run 6-feet deep – a real sleeper. I’ll always have a couple of other crankbaits tied on: a Dredger 10.5 or 8.5. It is pretty hard to beat the honey shad color in the fall. Kentucky blue is right behind it. If you get a little bit of colored water, crawdad colors are good, and chartreuse/brown back.
The fall is a great time to fish a crankbait; it’s been my most-successful time as a pro fisherman. Too bad we don’t have any tournaments in the fall anymore. You cover a lot of water, and once you get dialed in, they’re easy to catch on a crankbait.I’m not as concerned with getting baits deep. So I don’t have to make the extremely long casts I need in the summer.
I will back off and use a shorter rod, because I’m throwing more at targets: laydowns and stumps you can see. My 6-foot-8 Lew’s David Fritts crankin’ rod is a more accurate way to present your baits. I fish a Lew’s BB-1 reel – get the slowest retrieve ratio you can; 6.2-to-1 is great. I fish 10-pound Berkley Sensation, a mono that doesn’t have a lot of stretch and is perfect for fishing crankbaits.
Still using mono:
With all the super, no-stretch fishing lines available, pro angler David Fritts still prefers monofilament when fishing with crankbaits. Berkley’s Sensation is a low-stretch version that has just enough stretch to allow bass to hook themselves without yanking the crankbait free.