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Catch bass as they fatten up for winter 

I REMEMBER WHEN the days were simpler—and so was the tackle. A hook, a sinker, a bobber and a worm were all you needed to have fun all day. Those days watching a bobber dance on the surface with a bite are classic memories for American anglers. Sometimes, I still venture out with just a bobber setup and a box of worms to fish from shore for whatever bites. Now the days seem much less simple and the tackle, well, let’s just say it’s come a long way. 

My tackle box has grown into tackle compartments in my boat. I’m sure many anglers can say the same. One bait stands out among them all and provides the same, if not more excitement as bobber fishing. That is the topwater bait for bass. There’s nothing better than working a topwater bait with the anticipation of a strike. Seeing a 5-pound bass explode on a topwater bait can be breathtaking. 

The cooler days in October will have shad on the move to find food. This is the perfect opportunity for bass to ambush the shad along their migratory route. The fall bite can be the best all year as the bass put on much-needed fat for winter. This active feeding, which can last throughout the day, is the perfect time to throw a topwater bait. 

When searching for active bass, look in the back of bays where creeks run in. These areas will attract shad and the bass will follow. You can locate the shad by finding the birds, since herons, loons and seagulls are also preparing for winter. Unfortunately, the bass are not always with the shad. Some bays will not have a lot of bass or maybe they haven’t arrived yet. When you do find them in shallow bays, the numbers are often great, but the size will be on the small side. 

Big bass are more territorial and will hide and ambush the shad as they move through. Look for isolated cover like stumps and stake beds closer to the main lake and away from the feeding frenzy in the back of the bay. While the visible cover along the shoreline should be fished, it’s the hidden cover that produces best. 

Polarized sunglasses are a must for seeing below the surface and helping you spot an underwater stump or rock. You can also find a lot of likely cover during winter pool when the water is low. Mark these spots on your GPS, and you can return the following fall and fish them when they are not visible to other anglers. 

Don’t let this opportunity slip by. Get out on the water and tie on your favorite topwater bait. Feel the rush you felt as a kid watching the bobber go out of sight. If you’re new to topwater bass fishing, be prepared because the strike might just take your breath away.

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