Fall is my favorite time of year for lots of reasons. Hunting seasons are starting, football teams are playing, and, of course, the fishing can be top notch now too! Throwing a crankbait for largemouth bass is one of my favorite fall activities. Lots of my past fall stories have been about bass living on deep weedlines in clear lakes that are susceptible to deep diving crankbaits. This story features weedlines, but in shallow, more off-colored lakes that are often best fished with a squarebill crankbait.
Shallow lakes with some color in the water often have deep weed edges in say 5-to-10-foot water depths. These fertile lakes often have prolific baitfish populations and big, fat bass! As the weeds start to thin and the baitfish populations decrease as the result of bass, northern pike, and other fish eating them, squarebill crankbaits become productive baits in many, if not most, of these waters. Many squarebills dive in the 5-to-9-foot depth ranges making them perfect for these lakes and they have unique hunting, erratic actions that trigger bites.
Moving down the weed edge and throwing a squarebill up on the flat and then working it down the edge and back to the boat is a great way to quickly cover lots of water and trigger bites. Once a fish is caught, using the anchor mode on a boat’s trolling motor is a great way to make multiple casts to the area the first fish was caught, often resulting in multiple bites. Once the bite slows, the angler can be back on the move searching for the next bite and next bass school.
As for baits to use, the KVD 2.5 bait is a model that runs true, gets bit, and is a favorite of many dedicated bass anglers. At times, however, bigger baits get bit better in the fall and switching to magnum baits can lead to bigger fish. Recently, for example, a fishing partner and I had a productive afternoon using the 2.5 baits. When the bite slowed, I switched to a KVD 4.0 Magnum version and put several 3-pound-plus bass in the boat in short order. My partner, not to be outdone, went even bigger choosing an 8.0 Magnum model and he quickly got in on the action.
In addition to bait size, color selection can be important as well. Lots of the lakes across the Midwest have healthy bluegill and perch patterns so matching the hatch with similarly colored baits is often productive. The baits mentioned above are available in several of these baitfish colors. If the water is especially dirty, a brighter bait with some chartreuse is usually a good choice.
Baits and bait color selections are important as are the rod/reel/line combinations they are fished on. I prefer fluorocarbon line in 12- or 15-pound test for most of my crankbait fishing and have good success with Contra fluorocarbon. This line is manageable, yet abrasion resistant and strong. I spool it on a BB1 Pro baitcast reel in a 6.2.1 gear ratio. That reel is great for casting crankbaits, and I prefer the bit slower retrieve that gear ratio provides for this fishing style. As for rods, I’ve had very good success fishing that reel/line combination on a new Lew’s Signature Series rod that was specifically designed for squarebill fishing.
If you have hopes for very good fishing success yet this open water season, consider largemouth bass living in an off-colored lake and fishing with squarebill crankbaits. Throwing these baits using some of the suggestions provided above just might, in fact, lead to the some of the best bass catches of your entire season.
As always, good luck on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!
Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series and is a co-founder of the ZEBCO School of Fish. Visit www.fishingthemidwest.com to see all things Fishing the Midwest.