John's Journal...


Bet On The Top-Water Bite

Click to enlarge Editor’s Note: Longtime, nationally-known bass-fishing pro Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has proved to everyone in the bass-fishing world that he can catch bass year-round. VanDam's many wins and his title of Bassmasters Classic Champion attest to his ability to catch fish. VanDam says that during October and November, bass are keying in on baitfish, and in the South, bass are primarily feeding on shad. In the North in October and November, bass may be feeding on shad, perch or LYs. Because VanDam understands this, he fishes with baitfish-imitating lures these months. This week VanDam shares with us his five-favorite October and November bass patterns.

My favorite top-water lure at this time of the year is the Strike King Spit-N-King. In October and early November, the bass are almost totally feeding on baitfish, generally high in the water column. Any time I seeClick to enlarge balls of shad flipping on the surface, I'll be throwing a Strike King Spit-N-King to that school of shad. Regardless of the weather conditions, if I can see some shad flipping, I'll be throwing top-water lures, even on real bright sunny October days in the middle of the day. I like to work the Spit-N-King fairly fast with quick, short hops. I want to walk the bait from side to side and cause it to make a "blooping" sound. I think the sound that the Spit-N-King makes is the same sound that a bass makes when it attacks a baitfish on the surface. If you've seen bass feeding on the surface, you'll notice that they make little pop sounds when they inhale baitfish right at the water line. That's the same sound the Spit-N-King makes when you twitch it. So, I believe that the sound of the lure, in conjunction with the splash it makes, calls the bass to the school of shad that you're fishing around because bass that aren't feeding on the shad hear what they believe to be other bass feeding on that school, so they are drawn in to the attack.

I like the shad colors when I'm fishing the Spit-N-Click to enlargeKing. Chrome and blue are probably my favorite colors. I also like the Bleeding Bait Series - the red hook and the feathered tail. This bait walks really well on the surface of the water, and I fish the Spit-N-King around cover as well as in open water where I see schools of shad. Grass, wood, isolated cover and docks are all great places to fish the Spit-N-King at this time of the year. You can also fish the Spit-N-King on flats in the backs of creeks. I always have a Spit-N-King tied on one of the rods I'm fishing at this time of the year. Then if I see a bass break on the surface, I can grab the rod with the Spit-N-King, make a cast to the spot where I've seen the bass break, and oftentimes catch that bass with this lure. The Spit-N-King is so versatile you can also just fish it down the bank. The Spit-N-King has a lot of drawing power during the fall and can pull bass from long distances in to attack the bait.

One of the big advantages of the Spit-N-King over a buzzbait, which is also a top-water lure, is that the Spit-N-King will Click to enlargestay in the bass' strike zone longer than the buzzbait will. You can also keep the Spit-N-King close to the cover longer than you can the buzzbait. I've found that when the bass takes the Spit-N-King, the fish will inhale it.

Now, the hook set when you're fishing the Spit-N-King is different than the hook set on many other baits. Don't set the hook when you see the strike. Continue to work the bait until you actually feel the fish take the lure. When you feel the fish, instead of jerking back hard like you will when fishing a tube, a jig or a soft-plastic lure, just start reeling a little faster and get those sharp hooks into the bass' mouth.

October and November are great months for bass fishing. At this time of year, the bass are extremely active and chasing baits. These tactics work well for me this month, and if you'll try them, I really believe they will help you put more bass in your boat.


Check back each day this week for more about MY FIVE FAVORITE OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER PATTERNS WITH KEVIN VANDAM...

Day 1 - Bet On The Baitfish
Day 2 - VanDam's Second Choice for Clear-Water Fishing - The Wild Shiner Jerkbait
Day 3 - VanDam's Favorite Fall Tube Techniques
Day 4 - Double Down With a Swimming Jig in the Fall
Day 5 - Bet On The Top-Water Bite



Entry 271, Day 5