Bronze Transition

Following autumn smallmouths leads to epic battles.

A couple weeks ago, we talked about smallmouth bass acting like walleyes and explored their late-summer patterns in deep water. With September’s arrival, it’s high time for bronzeback fans to factor shallow water into their bassin’ game plans.

Where smallmouth wolf packs roamed 10- to 20-foot depths in late August, they begin making more feeding forays into 2-8 feet of water come September. Rocky areas near reef tops and along long, tapering points can be hot zones, especially those offering transition zones where bass can quickly swarm in from deep water.

Rapala Skitter Walk

Search baits such as topwaters and jerkbaits help me find roaming bass, which can be here today and gone tomorrow. Big walking-style baits like the Rapala Skitter Walk are among my favorites, although I use propbaits in wind and waves, and throw poppers when walkers strike out.

With walking baits, a classic side-to-side sashay is great this time of year. Snap the rodtip with your wrist so the bait kicks up water but doesn’t move far. I typically use a 7-foot baitcasting combo spooled with 14-pound Sufix ProMix monofilament, tied directly to the lure.

In the jerkbait department a size 10 Rapala X-Rap on 10-pound mono gets the nod. Give it three jerks, a pause, then three more quick pulls. Keep this up in a consistent cadence and you’ll catch more bass.

Rapala X-Rap

Once you find the bass, it can be pandemonium, because you’re dealing with multiple feeding fish—not a single lone bass. When things settle down, drop-shotting Senko-style softbaits, dragging tubes and fishing rugby-style jigs tipped with bug- or craw-type trailers can milk more bites from the area.

On my home waters in the Midwest, this shallow rock patterns holds up until water temps plummet in late September and early October. Then, it’s time to think deep again, but we’ll catch that bite another day.

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