A lot of people are in the woods hunting deer this month, including myself, but if you’re on the water, November is one of the prettiest months for fishermen. Stripers, hybrids, white perch and crappie are all biting, and being that my passion is bass fishing, it’s a time when I want to spend a few days on the water.
After a summer full of recreational boaters, jet skiers and tubers, it’s good to see most of that activity settle down as people concentrate on hunting and fishing. It’s an absolutely fantastic time to get out. The tournament season has slowed down, and if you’ve already got some venison in the freezer, take off a few days and get on the water.
What’s great is that the weather is usually still fall weather; it hasn’t gotten really cold yet, and the water temperature is going to be in the 60s and 70s. It is a great time to find bass shallow, around shallow cover. I’ll have a few baits tied on that I’ve had success with all over the country, not just on our lakes here in the Carolinas. Look on the deck of my Phoenix bass boat, and you’ll find square-billed crankbaits, spinnerbaits and vibrating jigs tied on to several rods.
The key is to cover a lot of water; I can cover it with those three baits, and they’ll come through cover pretty well. I usually start about halfway back in a creek and fish all the way back. It’s very important to cover a lot of water until you get bit, because fish can be all the way in the back of the creek, on the silt flat outside it, or halfway out. It depends on how much rain we’ve had and how early the first frost came, if it has. That’s a lot of water to cover, and if you fish too slowly, it’s hard to cover even the back half of a creek in, say, a half-day of fishing.
I try to put my Minnkota trolling motor down and run on high until I get a bite, then, I can slow down and fish an area more thoroughly. In November, you’re looking for an area where fish are active more than two or three spots, because fish won’t be schooling until December when it gets a lot colder. You’re catching a fish here and there within a key area.
What I’m keying on is the best-available cover in the particular lake I’m fishing. My No. 1 kind of shallow cover will be vegetation, whether that’s hydrilla, milfoil, pads or water willow. Anytime you find some shallow vegetation, that’s an excellent place to target, and I’ll pay attention to my Humminbird depth finder, looking for some vegetation that may be out off the bank, especially if there are any shad or herring around. You may be in a situation where you have grass shallow and wood shallow, and you may have areas where both are present. Whatever the dominant shallow cover is, fish it. If you’re around cover and bait, the bass will be there.
I usually start with a Rapala DT Fat, a square-billed crankbait that will get down several feet. I can fish shallow wood and grass with it very effectively. I want to be fishing it in a standard shad pattern. If I’m not getting bit on the square-bill — or if I catch a fish and want to slow down and fish an area more thoroughly — then I’ll go with the spinnerbait. I like a 3/8-ounce War Eagle spinnerbait with a Colorado/willow-leaf blade combination in the crystal shad color. If I’m fishing grass, I like to fish a vibrating jig; my favorite is a Shakin’ Shad. It tends to go through vegetation better than wood.
If I cover enough water in the right places and find a place that’s really fishy, I’ll spend some time in there and try to put together a little pattern as far as how the fish are relating exactly to the cover. That’s the way to really get the most out of the half-day or full day when you leave the deer stand alone and spend time in your bass boat. You won’t regret it.