I know that lots of sportsmen turn their attention this time of year to deer hunting, and I’m probably one of them. But I keep in mind that bass fishing in October on a beautiful South Carolina like is about as good as it gets. First, the recreational boating traffic is, for the most part, gone. Second, I don’t have any Bassmaster tournaments to fish this late in the year. Third, a lot of guys are in their tree stands. Fourth, the weather has cooled off and the fish are biting. It’s just one of the best times of year to go out and try to catch a big fish.
When I think big fish, there’s one lure that immediately comes to mind, a Mop Jig. I always have a Mop Jig tied on whenever I go fishing, but I admit that during the summer, I tend to fish worms and other soft plastics. But I still have a jig tied on. Come October, it becomes my No. 1 lure, because by and large, bass get focused on crawfish.
Conditions can be different depending on which lake you’re fishing and how far along October has progressed, but I’m going to be fishing in 10 feet of water or less, and I’m going to be targeting the best cover available. At Lake Greenwood or Lake Wateree, that would be boat docks. At Clarks Hill, Hartwell or Murray, I’m going to target grass and rock.
One of the keys is finding out what kind of rock the crawfish are relating to. That’s the biggest thing you can do that will provide you with a productive pattern to fish. All of the crawfish will be usually be living around a certain kind of rock, and that can change, month to month or year to year. It’s important that you get dialed in on which type of rock they’re on, because the bass will sure get dialed in on where the crawfish are. Those are the places where you want to fish a jig. If I catch a few fish and figure out what kind of rock they’re on, I’ll keep looking for that kind of rock or bank.
One other thing that might help. Edges are very attractive to wildlife for food and cover. If I’m deer hunting in October, I want to try and hunt the edges, say, a clear-cut next to hardwoods. Bass are the same way; they relate to edges. The places where two kinds of bank meet, where two kinds of rock meet, can be fantastic.
In the fall, I like to cast a Mop Jig. If I’m fishing docks, I’ll skip or pitch a jig back under it, but I’ve I’m just fishing down a bank or a rocky point or a rock vein, I do more casting. I usually crawl my jig along the bottom this time of year; I fish it more like a Texas-rigged worm. I’m not fishing it slow, just moving it along the bottom, not hopping it. It’s real important when you’re fishing a Mop Jig along the bottom, to stop it every once in a while. You want that living rubber skirt to flare out and move in the water — that’s irresistible to bass. You don’t need to stop it for 5 or 10 seconds, just for a second or two.
The last part of putting things together is finding concentrations of fish. Across South Carolina, October is a transition month when baitfish and bass are moving back into creeks. I try starting near the mouth of a creek and quickly fishing my way back. I like to be open-minded. You really can’t tell where fish are going to be from past experience, because the weather matters so much and it can be different from one year to the next. One year, you might go to a high school football game the last week of September and be wearing shorts; the next year, you might be in long sleeves and a jacket.
The thing is, if I can get a couple of bites in a certain part of a creek, I can eliminate about half of that creek and really start to zero in on where the fish will be.
Now, about the equipment. In the fall, I like to fish a full-size Mop Jig, an half-ounce bait. I like a big, soft-plastic trailer like a Flappin’ Craw. I like to fish a brown jig with a red or black trailer. When you see a lot of crawfish in the fall, they tend to be darker, more black and red and brown than they are in the spring. I like to fish a 7-foot, All-Star baitcasting rod with a Pfleuger Patriarch reel that’s spooled with 10-pound Trilene 100 Percent Fluorocarbon.
I can’t tell you how much pleasure I’ve had catching big bass in the fall on a jig. It’s really one of the coolest things to go out and really figure out what the fish are doing, find them and put together a pattern and catch a few big ones. No matter how deer season is going, you need to take a day or two off and try it.
Just try not to take off the same days I’m taking off and fishing the same lake I’m fishing. One of us is enough out there.