Finally Fall has arrived!!!!! The days are getting' shorter, the nights are getting' cooler and the bass are feedin' up to get ready for winter. What a combination!!! And if that isn't enough, we've practically got the lake to ourselves because most of our friends are in the woods chasin' deer or squirrels or wadin' around in hip boots tryin' to kill a duck or goose. With so many options, it's easy to see why so many East Texas Sportsmen suffer from sleep deprivation this time of year.
Every Fall, as the water starts cooling, the shad begin to migrate up the creeks and the bass begin to follow. I'll never forget the first tournament that I worked with the film crew from BassMasters TV. It was the '94 tournament on Lake Livingston, held on the first weekend in November. Everbody was up the creeks. I remember shooting Jay Yelas in the very back end of Yaupon Cove up Kickapoo Creek, and George Cochran in the slough at the boat ramp for Broken Arrow Marina. Richard McCarty (2nd place), Rick Clunn (who won the tournament) and Ken Cook were in the back of Penwaugh Slough above the third boat ramp. Doug Garret (3rd place) was in the back end of Wolf Creek above the bridge. So, if you haven't already guessed, now is the time to go as far back as you can go in all of the creeks and main lake pockets.
A lot of the days this time of year, the bass will be really revved up and chasing shad and a spinnerbait, buzzbait or crankbait will be the lure of choice. Anytime you can talk the bass into biting these types of baits, you are better off, because you can catch 'em faster with these types of baits. But when these baits won't produce, you need to slow down and feed 'em some soft plastic. That's when I reach for my worm rod and tie on a plastic worm or usually a crawworm.
Seems like with the water cooling off, the bass like that crawworm better than they did back in the summer. Maybe the crawdads are more active in the cooler water. I almost always rig these baits "Texas style", which involves putting a bullet shaped piece of lead (worm weight) on my line, first and then tying my hook onto the end of my line. To complete my "Texas Rig", I thread my worm or crawworm on the hook about a quarter of an inch and then bring that hook back out of the worm and rotate that hook 180 degrees and stick just the point of the hook back in the worm. I can now cast this setup in the thickest tangles that I can find and not get hung up, because the plastic is protecting the point of the hook and makes the rig "weedless".
So if you're in an area with a lot of baitfish activity and you just know that you are around some bass and you just can't get them to bite your crankbaits, spinnerbaits or topwaters, then throw 'em a Texas Rigged plastic worm. Throw that rig in the thickest cover that you can find. Logpiles, brushpiles, stumps, boat docks and lay down logs are excellent places to drop your worm.
On Lake Livingston, I usually use a 3/16, 1/4 or 5/16 ounce bullet weight and a 3/0 VMC Vanadium Off-set shank hook. This hook is extremely strong and sharp. Try this hook, I think you'll like it. Since I am usually fishing fairly thick cover, I usually use 17 to 20 pound clear premium monofilament like Berkley Trilene XT or Berkely Big Game.
The way that I almost always fish a Texas Rig is to cast or pitch my bait right in the middle of the thickest cover that I can find and let my worm go all the way to the bottom. (You can tell when it's on the bottom when your line goes slack.) After your bait gets to the bottom, pick your rod up and move your worm toward you about a foot or so, with only your rod, and then let it sink back to the bottom.
One of keys to being successful with the Texas Rig is to let that bait go to bottom every time after you move it. When the bait gets back to the bottom, then reel up the slack in your line and pick up the bait again. Use this pick-up, fall back, reel slack technique all the way back to the boat, unless you get a strike. Strikes usually feel just like someone lightly thumping the end of your rod. When you feel this, give him a little bit of slack and then set the hook hard with a quick upward rod motion.
I almost forgot to talk about the soft plastic lure to use on the business end of this rig. I usually use a Berkley 4" Power Craw in black/chartreuse claw or black/blue claw or a 7 1/2" Power Worm in either tequila sunrise, red shad, plum or watermelon. These baits are impregnated with a fish attractant that makes the fish hold the bait in their mouth longer without spitting the bait out. The longer that a bass will hold onto your bait, the longer that you have to sense his presence and set the hook. This hesitation by the bass will lead to more catches at the end of the day.
I usually use either a 7'6" heavy action Fenwick graphite flipping rod (model GTC 775-2) or a medium-heavy action Fenwick graphite worm rod (model GTC 785) for most of my Texas Riggin'. Also, I use like to use a quality, high-speed baitcasting reel with a thumb bar release like an Abu Garcia 4600C3 or UC4600C.
I sincerely hope that at least some of the information that I have provided was enlightening or maybe entertaining but most of all helpful and educational. If you would like some first hand instruction on black bass fishing on Lake Livingston or Sam Rayburn, I guide full time on both of these lakes and can be reached at (936) 563-5454 or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you get a chance, check out my web site at www.detnet.com/fairbanks and let me know what you think. Until next month, catch all you can and release all that you catch. Good luck, be safe out there and may God bless.
Sponsored by: Ranger Boats, Motorguide, Pro-Kon-Trol, Lowrance Electronics, Fenwick, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Energy Batteries, Turbo Props, Dual Pro Battery Chargers, VMC Hooks and Ocean Waves Sunglasses.