Bass are now in the shallows and close to the bank and feeding and chasing shad, and any old bass angler worth his favorite rod and reel knows what this means. It is time to start fishing buzz baits on the surface for these feeding bass.
When the bass are chasing these schools of shad they will often break the surface and make quite a noise. These sounds are what a bass angler dreams of all year. Late fall is absolutely the prime time to fish the buzz bait — and not just at night, but all day long. The air and water temperatures have cooled enough to allow the bass to move shallow and become active. Ask any bass angler who has caught bass off the surface with buzz bait and I bet they will tell you it was one of their most exciting catches ever made.
When a shad is running from a bass it will often break the surface and skip and spit and throw water. This is the same action that buzz baits give when fished right. Just like everything else in fishing, the right tackle and the right presentation are very important. Buzz baits need to be fished on a long rod with a medium heavy action and a fairly flexible tip. The long rod serves two purposes. It allows for a longer, more accurate cast and also gives more leverage and power on the hook-set. The longer rod will let you pick up slack line off the water on the hook set. The flexible tip will help to keep pressure on the fish, making it harder to throw the hook.
A bait-cast reel works best for this type of fishing, and line in the eight- to 12-pound test is good except when fishing around heavy cover, which calls for a little heavier line. The most important thing when fishing buzz bait is the retrieve. As soon after the bait hits the water after making your cast, start your retrieve to get the bait and the blades turning. But reel just fast enough to keep the blades turning while changing speed at times if you want.
For best results, look for areas where bass are working shad close to the surface or close to a bank. Make your cast out past the action and work the bait back through the area. If you’re just casting down a bank or around cover, when your bait comes up to the cover try to hit the cover and bounce the bait off the cover and continue the retrieve. This is what old-time anglers called “bump the stump.” It can be deadly to a bass if you trigger a strike.
If you’ve never gotten to try this type of bass fishing you don’t know what you’re missing. If the sight of a big bass busting a bait on the surface and sending water flying everywhere while the tail of the bass dances does not get your heart pumping, you are in the wrong sport!