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CHRIS SMITH

Fall is here, and we have even had a couple of small cool fronts pass through.

Rest assured, October will still lash out with a few more uncomfortable daytime high temperatures. Even with the occasional “summer like” days, the shallows on area lakes will becoming more active with feeding bass. Bass seem to be as excited about the cooler temperatures as us.

Schooling fish are subject to pop up anywhere at any time. Schoolies are fun, but seldom have the size most anglers want. One of the best shallow water patterns for numbers and size during this month has traditionally been surface baits. Below are the “best bets” for areas to target for surface action.

My number one “go to” for October has to be lily pads. October will find the pad fields starting to die off and leave large open areas in the previously packed, pad fields. The insects and larvae that live in/on the pads and stems are being displaced rapidly by the pad decay. This activity triggers the food chain and almost immediately frogs and birds begin to work in the pads picking off easy meals.

About this same, time bream will begin building up in numbers having their way with the buffet line. Finally, with all this food present, bass will begin showing up and slashing the sunfish, frogs, mice, snakes and yes even birds that linger too long. This sets the stage for us and our surface lure arsenal.

Rig up heavy 7’6” to 8’ rods with high speed reels spooled with 50-65 pound test braid is the base set up. Spinning gear and monofilament will work but they also guarantee heart break. Some of the bass that hunt in the pads are not going to be landed without ripping through a few pad stems so the heavy gear is necessary. The “go to” bait will be a hollow body frog.

There are dozens of models. Colors, hook configurations and bait size are available but sticking to a couple main baits works well for me. I usually have two frogs ready on the deck. A white frog and a black frog. Occasionally I will have a natural color frog with a white/yellow belly. Other than color, I will have a popping frog and a conventional model.

Spro brand is a favorite and makes a high quality bait. Some days they like one or the other better and some days it doesn’t seem to matter.

Start by casting to the edge or just inside the pads and working the frog out. The fish tend to be on the edges early in the day and deeper in the pads as the day progresses. Experiment with retrieves and cadences, duplicating whichever gets the most bites. The pad bite will normally work all day as long as there is bait in the pads, the bass will be nearby.

Keep a jig or senko handy for missed frog bites. Often a bass will blast through thick pads to get your frog. If the fish misses your frog, pick up the jig or senko as quickly as possible and send it to the fish. Many times this will work as the bass is already “turned on” and will quickly smash your follow up cast.

Enjoy this fall at your favorite pad field.

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