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New England’s Indian Summer

Vegetation above water has decayed; underwater vegetation and lily pads are still green

Mark Twain once penned, "If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a minute and it will changed." Normal water temperatures during October will slowly continue to decrease. Registering surface temperatures into the mid-50 degree range, as chilling night air temperatures drop into the high 20 to low 30-degree range.... However, that's the normal weather pattern!

Thus, enters Mark Twain's 'Just wait a minute', cliché! Often referred to as an Indian Summer air temperatures run totally abnormal reaching extreme highs and extreme lows. These patterns usually last for two-three day cycles. While we may enjoy the sudden heat waves and then bundle up for the extreme cold fronts. Unfortunately, the underwater aquatic world of the Black Bass can be as mixed up as a wind blown bank filled with colorful autumn leaves.

And, the key word more often than not is....'Wind'!

Savvy bass anglers need to consider several factors when evaluating their angling tactics and techniques during these extreme weather changes! Factoring in the wind velocity and direction as it moves warmer surface water.

Key Factors to Success:

  1. Shallow main lake pockets, coves and back-bay areas will warm quickly attracting baitfish and bass. But, remember they will also cool off just as quickly... As the baitfish and bass suddenly disappear.
  2. Tapering shallow rocky flats, points and humps along steep contours become prime targets. Feeding frenzy's occur when bass drive schooling baitfish unto these hard bottom shallows, then retreat back to deeper water. Add, vegetation and it's a Bass Bonus!
  3. Isolated deep rocky areas with healthy green vegetation are 'Bass Magnets'! Utilize your electronics to locate these deep areas, and then verify the healthy vegetation by retrieving your baits through the vegetation.

Tactic, Techniques & Baits for Success:

1. Keep your trolling motor on and your eyes open for surface activity, especially within remaining green vegetation such as lily pads. Monitor the water temperature and remember these areas need to warm. Therefore they are usually best on sunny days during mid-day periods.

Healthy lily pads with green milfoil within decayed rice grass...These areas hold Bass!

Bass can be very spooky within these shallow areas, requiring anglers to make long accurate cast. Push poles will allow for stealth movement, while Power Pole anchors can secure you in place on active areas. Angling techniques can range from topwater buzzing to weightless dead-sticking baits.

My choice of baits for these Shallow areas includes the following:

  • Z-Man 4" Pop FrogZ pegged with a Mustad Grip-Pin 4/0 hook, tied to Seaguar 40 lb. Kanzen braid. The advantage of the ZMan Pop Frog is the ability to dead-stick it on the surface or on a lily pad, work it extremely slow side-to-side, pop & gurgle or buzz it on the surface.

  • Z-Man 5" ZinkerZ secured to a Mustad 3/0 worm hook with a Lead Free Lunker City nail weight inserted in the tail. This allows for longer cast and skipping paired with a slow backward fall. Perfect for working through downed trees or docks. I prefer throwing the ZinkerZ on 12 lb. Seaguar AbrazX Fluorocarbon.

  • Z-Man 6" LizardZ on a Mustad Grip-Pin 3-4/0 hook, 12-14 lb. Seaguar AbrazX Fluorocarbon with a Top Brass Tungsten 1/8 oz. or less bullet weight pegged with a bobber stopper. The LizardZ is perfect for flipping into pockets and cuts, swimming through the vegetation or slowing along the surface as the LizardZ tail and legs engage an enticing attraction.

While the allure of shallow water bass action is tempting and can be rewarding at times. Its imperative anglers leave these shallow areas when the baitfish activity and bass bites disappear.

2. Dropping buoy markers indicating prime casting areas aid to locate tapering shallow rocky points and humps especially during windy fall conditions. Utilizing a controlled slow drift with your trolling motor helps you dissect the area thoroughly. And, the use of Power Poles will extend your trolling motor battery life.

Baitfish being blown across a hump with submerged long tapering rocky point.

My choice of baits for rocky flats, points and humps along steep contours includes the following:

  • To target active feeding bass reaction baits like Z-Man's 3/4 oz. QuadZilla collapsible 4-arm spinnerbait is my first choice. With the capability to make long casts, emulate a school of baitfish, impart both vibration and flash, the QuadZilla's weedless ability allows anglers to work the water column with a variety of retrieve speeds.

This largemouth inhaled my Z-Man QuadZilla Spinnerbait as it came off a Flat into deep water

I like to spool my bait casting reels with Seaguar 12-14 lb. Tatsu Fluorocarbon line for Z-Man QuadZilla spinnerbaits.

I have found Largemouth seem to eat the Bluegill pattern, and Smallmouth jump all over the Chartreuse Sexy Shad color. If both species are present I have rods rigged and alternate casts.

  • My second choice for active feeders or when the bass stop chasing the spinnerbait is Z-Man's 3/8 oz. Project Z Swim Jig. My color choices include, Ghost Pearl or Threadfin Shad on bright days, and Citrus Shad or Breaking Bream on overcast days. I will utilize the following ElaZtech trailers, 2.5/3.5 Shimmer Pearl GrubZ, MinnowZ or DieZel MinnowZ in baitfish matching colors.

  • When the active feeding bass stop and my sonar indicates both bass and baitfish are still within the area I turn to dragging either the ProjectZ 1/2 oz. Football Jig or Z-Man's David Walker's 3/8 oz. CrossEyeZ Power Finesse Jig. Color choices on the football jig are Black/Blue or Candy Craw with matching Z-Man 3.5" BatwingZ trailers. My CrossEyeZ Power Finesse colors are Black/Blue, Green Pumpkin or Bruised Green Pumpkin. My trailer choices include, 2.75" BatwingZ, Boar HogZ or Punch CrawZ. All my jigs are tied to Seaguar 12 or 14 lb. AbrazX or Tatsu Fluorocarbon.

Sonar indicates baitfish and bass activity with 20-25 foot depths.

CrossEyeZ Power Finesse Jig with Boar HogZ Trailer

3. Buoy markers once again allow you to mark off an area so that you may cast to these isolated deep rock piles. DO NOT drop your buoy markers unto these deep rocky areas! Instead drop them a cast away circling the deep-water area. The buoys allow you a quick reference as to where your boat should be for making the cast. This can come in handy when the wind is blowing. Casting and drifting your baits across these areas has seemed to produce for me.

My choice of baits for these isolated rock piles and/or weed clumps includes the following:

  • The ProjectZ 1/2 or 3/4 oz. Football Jig, ZMan's David Walker's 3/8 or 5/8 oz. CrossEyeZ Flipping Jig. Color choices on the football jig are Black/Blue or Candy Craw with matching Z-Man 3.5" BatwingZ trailers. My CrossEyeZ Flipping Jig colors are Black/Blue, Green Pumpkin, Bruised Green Pumpkin or Hot Black. My trailer choices include, 3.5" BatwingZ, Turbo CrawZ. All my jigs are tied to Seaguar 12 or 14 lb. AbrazX or Tatsu Fluorocarbon, for the 3.5" GrubZ I use 10/12 lb. and 12 lb. on the 5" GrubZ.

CrossEyeZ 5/8 oz. Flipping Jig paired with 3.5" BatwingZ Trailer

  • One other bait I have had success with has been a 3.5" or 5" GrubZ impelled on a Trout Eye Jighead. For the 3.5" GrubZ I use a 1/4 oz. Trout Eye Jighead, the 5" GrubZ is paired with a 1/2 oz. Redfish Eye Jighead. The GrubZ baits are hopped off the bottom or dragged and I will often times just swim them for suspended bass. GrubZ colors I use for 3.5" are, Pearl Blue Glimmer, Smoke Pepper, Chartreuse Sparkle, Smoke Purple and Smoke Hologram. Colors for 5" are Shimmer Pearl, Chartreuse Sparkle.

3.5" GrubZ and 1/4 oz. Trout Eye Jig Head

5" Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ and 1/2 oz. Redfish Jighead

I hope these October tips help increase your Z-Man bass bites. Keep focused the water is cold wear your life jackets, and remember the wind can be your friend!

Remember 'Just Have Fun'
Billy 'Hawkeye' Decoteau

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