Some of you who really know how I like to fish or who have read my column for a long time are going to stunned to find out this one is about fishing shaky heads. I know; it’s not the kind of power fishing that I’m known for, but sometimes, you do what you have to do to catch bass, and in November, those big green fish can be tough.
November is one of those months that not a whole lot of people like; it’s a little too early for some things and a little too late for others. It’s an odd month in that a lot of people are deer hunting and there’s a lot of stuff going on with Thanksgiving, but it’s a great time to be on the water. Recreational boating traffic is basically down to nothing; there are just fishermen out there, and the weather is good. You have cool mornings, but not a lot of cool days. If you’ve killed the bucks you want to kill, you need to get back out there.
I really enjoy fishing soft-plastics when I’m not tournament fishing. I catch a lot of bass on soft-plastics in tournaments, but most of the time, you need to be fishing a moving bait when you’re searching for fish on an unfamiliar body of water. In November, I get to stay home a lot and fish our local lakes, and I like to fish soft-plastics on little shaky head-style jigs. You can use any kind of soft-plastic on the little heads. I use a small Swim Senko, but you can use small worms, creature baits; I just like thinner-profile baits in the fall.
In November, I’ll fish a shaky head the way I fish a crankbait; I put my trolling motor down and go fishing. I stay on the lookout for anything — bait flipping, fish swirling, drops and rocky bottoms on my Humminbird 1199 electronics. On most lakes, the water is down a little; you usually get some of your lowest water of the year, so you can see some things you usually don’t, stuff you can target.
The water clarity determines how deep I fish; the more stained the water is, the shallower I’ll fish. If it’s clearer, I’ll fish deeper water where I’m relying more on electronics to see bait.
My two favorite falls colors are black/blue flake for stained water and faded watermelon for clearer water. I could give you a dozen more colors, but those two will usually do what you need.
As far as jigheads, so many people pour their own, and a lot of companies make them. I like a VMC ball head jig, a Buckeye Spot Remover, and if I’m fishing rocky areas, I like a VMC rugby head. I’ll throw them in 1/8-, 3/16- and ¼-ounce sizes on spinning tackle: a 6 ½-foot BPS Carbonlite rod and a Johnny Morris Signature Series spinning reel spooled with 8-pound XPS fluorocarbon.
I start midway back in the creeks and work my way back. I just fish and throw around everything I see. Once I catch a fish or two, I’ll start to throw only to stuff that’s producing; you need to be able to eliminate a lot of unproductive water. That’s why I really pay attention to where I get my strikes. Another key is finding the kind of cover they’re using, and that will change day to day, because November is similar to March; bass are always moving.
What really makes a shaky head a winning bait this time of year that you will have a lot of fish that are suspended, like over channels. With that light jighead, you get a slow fall, and you will catch a lot of suspended fish on soft-plastics on light jigheads.
I like to make medium-length casts. Spinning rods can be tough if you need to be accurate making short casts, so if I have to, I’ll pitch with a baitcaster to be more accurate, but you’ve got clear water so much of the time, you need to be able to fish those smaller baits and smaller jigs heads.
So, tie on something small and plastic to a something small and made of lead, and go looking. It will be a great change from sitting in your deer stand watching the squirrels.