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Fishing Tips

IF IT'S AUTUMN, IT'S SPINNERBAIT TIME

Posted 11/27/2012

If it’s autumn, it’s time to fish spinnerbaits, especially a model with tandem willow leaf white blades. That’s what Yamaha Pro Matt Herren has tied on his rods this time of year, in weights ranging from as light as 1/8 to perhaps as heavy as ½ ounce. 

“I’ve been fishing white, tandem willow leaf spinnerbaits in the fall longer than I can remember,” laughs Herren, 49, who learned how effective the lures could be as a youngster during fishing trips with his father on Alabama’s Coosa River. “My dad showed me how to slow-roll the spinnerbaits through the standing timber, and I can’t tell you how many six, seven, and eight pound largemouths we caught. 

“Spinnerbaits don’t receive a lot of attention anymore because the professional tournament seasons now end before fall fishing really starts, but believe me, they’re my number one go-to lure now as the water is cooling.”

 

Herren believes the blade baits are effective because they closely imitate both threadfin and gizzard shad, the two forage species bass are feeding on most heavily now in shallow water. That’s the primary reason he prefers spinnerbaits featuring both white blades and white skirts. The lures can also be fished from top to bottom using a variety of retrieves, depending on water temperature, water color, and cover.

“The most critical part of fall spinnerbaiting is matching the size of the lure to the size of the shad,” emphasizes the Yamaha Pro, “and this can vary from lake to lake. In some reservoirs, the bass may be feeding on shad eight or 10 inches long and you’ll need a larger spinnerbait, while on other reservoirs the baitfish may only be an inch long and you’ll need a smaller lure.

“That’s how I choose the size of my spinnerbaits. Bass are so focused on shad in the fall that you won’t catch any of them if you don’t take the time to first study the size of the bait before you start casting. In fact, the baitfish are the first things I look for, because I know if I do find them, bass will be around them.” 

Herren’s favorite autumn fishing technique is retrieving his spinnerbait right over the top of submerged vegetation just a foot or so below the surface. If bass are active, he’ll make long casts and retrieve as fast as he can turn the reel handle, but more often he’ll be more erratic and change speeds or drop the spinnerbait into the vegetation periodically.

 

“Over the years, I’ve decided the best water temperature for fall spinnerbaiting is between 54 and 70 degrees,” he notes, “and as the temperature does cool, you generally have to slow your retrieve, as well. 

“When it is cooler, I’ll often slow-roll my spinnerbait just above the bottom, bumping logs or rocks, but almost never fishing deeper than eight to 10 feet because the bass aren’t in deep water now. That’s what makes bass fishing with spinnerbaits so much fun. The fish are usually fairly active and they’re easily accessible in shallow water.”

In addition to fishing vegetation, Herren also checks for bait around underwater rockpiles, flooded brush, boat docks, and riprap walls. Typically, the best fall fishing takes place initially in major tributaries as both baitfish and bass begin migrating up these creeks when water temperatures begin to fall, but later, main lake cover and structure will also be productive.  

The Yamaha Pro uses both monofilament and fluorocarbon lines, depending on the type of cover he’s fishing. He prefers monofilament when he’s slow-rolling his spinnerbait through wood cover like stumps and logs because the line’s stretch actually improves hook-setting in such conditions. When he’s fishing vegetation, however, Herren uses fluorocarbon line because it doesn’t stretch. For either line, his preferred sizes range from 12 to 20 pound test. 

“Overall,” he concludes, “a bass fisherman can hardly go wrong fishing a spinnerbait now as the water temperatures are cooling. They’re easy to use no matter where you throw them because the bass are shallow and they’re feeding heavily. As long as you can match your spinnerbait to the size of the baitfish they’re feeding on, you’ll catch some fish.”