Like many of you, I use artificial fishing baits and lures 95 percent of the time when targeting bass. But if there’s a period when it makes sense to dip into the minnow bucket, it’s during autumn.
It’s at the time of year — at least in my part of the country where winters are an icy reality — when bass tend to forage on minnows, big ones in particular. This leads to a situation where large, live minnows can be effective.
|An angler’s gotta do what an angler’s gotta do and during autumn, that may mean dipping into the minnow bucket to catch bass.|
Here are 4 tips relating to minnow fishing for autumn bass.
1. Be prepared to collect your own minnows with a trap such as Frabill’s Deluxe Minnow Trap. It’s not uncommon for bait shops to have a limited inventory by the time fall arrives. This isn’t a problem, as minnows trapped from local creeks and streams are often more in the size range most effective now — ones from three to five inches in length. In the waters I trap, common species are creek chubs and dace.
2. When the water and weather are cool, it’s easy to keep minnows alive for a few days, even weeks. Styrofoam picnic coolers are great for the basement, back porch or garage. Change the water daily, for at least the first few days. Don’t use chlorinated water without first treating it. For storage in the boat, a simple minnow bucket such as Frabill’s Insulated 8-Quart Bucket is ideal.
3. On clear water lakes with deep submerged weedbeds – lakes that have good populations of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, or both – I like to work the deep edges of the vegetation with a drop shot rig baited with a large minnow. The sinker is typically in the 3/8- to ½-ounce range, enough weight to where I can fish it vertically below the boat, precisely working the edge of the cover. In reality, it’s much the same as a walleye angler fishing a Lindy rig along structure. To minimize the chance of deep hooking a bass, I prefer to use a circle fish hook in the 2/0 size. Remember, there’s no hook-setting with circle hooks. Simply tighten up. As the bass feels the tension and runs in the opposite direction, the hook will slide into the corner of the mouth, hang up, and hook the fish.
4. When on river systems, I will use either a bait rig or a leadhead jig to fish the big minnow. In the case of jigs, ¼ ounce to 3/8 ounce usually works best for plying the depths of the deeper river holes. If I’m getting short strikes, which often happens if walleyes are part of the mix, I’ll also employ a stinger hook like the Bass Pro Shops Walleye Angler Stinger Hook.
Learn more about matching live bait to the right hook, visit Live Bait and Hook Selection Primer at Bass Pro Shops 1Source.