That's fine by me, because October is one of my favorite months to fish - probably my favorite fall month. It's a great month to catch fish on my favorite crankbaits, and it's a great month to pattern bass by their movements back in creeks and up and down.
The shad should be moving back in the creeks and the bass should be following them. It's not easy; you'll have to put your trolling motor down, and you won't be able to find 'em on your depthfinder. You'll have to cover some water, but when you find 'em, you can really catch 'em, because they'll be ganged up. When you find that place, there will probably be several fish there.
Bait begin to migrate back into creeks and toward shallow water in the fall, and bass will follow them. There always seem to be a couple of creeks on every lake that hold more fish in the fall, and I tend to look for creeks with several features. I like creeks that have five feet of water on the flat at the edge of the channel and 15 feet in the channel. You want a creek with a well-defined channel, and creeks that have a lot of current. That's the ultimate for me.
When I go to a lake I'm not familiar with, I'll get out a map and I'll look at the major creeks and pick out one or two to fish. Sometimes, I'll be able to pick them out from the maps, and sometimes I'll just have to investigate.
You need to put your trolling motor down and fish different sections of the creek to really locate the bass. You've just got to get out there and grind. They'll be different places in the creek at different times in October, and they'll be at different depths depending on where they are in the creeks. Generally, the closer they are to the main lake, the deeper they're going to be, and the closer they are to the back of the lake, the shallower they're going to be. At Buggs Island, it's understood that the best patterns are either at the mouths or the backs of the creek.
I'll start early in the month around the mouth of the creeks or on the main lake. A lot of fish will stay on the main lake all the time, and not very many people will be fishing there in the fall, so it can be a good option. I want to start out the month fishing eight to 14 feet deep, and by the end of the month, I want to be fishing five to 10 feet deep. That's just a typical fall situation, and if you can keep up with the move back into the creeks and the move toward the shallows.
A lot of the specifics depend on where you're fishing and how the lake fishes. I know that fish are Buggs Island and Gaston are likely to be deeper at the beginning of October than other lakes; they're a little behind the season. They're liable to be around docks and stumps that line up along the edges of the creek channel. A lot of the pattern will depend on how clear the water is, how much runoff we've had from rain and how much current is being pulled.
Wood is probably the most-dominant cover in October. Brush is good, but wood in general is better, and toward the end of the month, rocks get to be good. If you can find a combination of wood and rocks, that's the best, if it's close to the creek channel.
Something else that's a good piece of structure in October is a road bed or a railroad trestle or the corner of a bridge. The old railroad trestle across Abbotts Creek on High Rock is a good example; the roadbed across Nutbush Creek at Buggs Island is another. In fact, fall is about the only time of year that place is really good. If you're fishing a lake with a lot of current, the corners of bridge pilings can be a hot ticket.
I can't think of a better bait to fish in the fall than a crankbait. You can still catch fish on a jig or plastics, but a crankbait should be your top bait. You can cover water with it, and yet you can zero in on specific pieces of cover and fish them thoroughly once you find fish. A shad-colored bait can be great, but chartreuse/green and chartreuse/brown are good fall colors.
You can change baits depending on the depths you're fishing. You need a bait that can run 10 to 14 feet deep early, but by the end of the month, you're fishing a bait that runs five or six feet deep. Being able to make long casts is important, because with the water often very clear, you need to get the bait away from the boat. Even if I go to a smaller bait, I'm usually going to be fishing it on a Lew's cranking rod, seven feet, matched with a Lew's BB1 reel. I've always fished 10-pound monofilament, and Vicious is about as good a monofilament as I've fished in a long time.
Anyway, October can be a memorable month if you put in a little time on the water and understand how to move where and when the fish do.