Finding and Catching November Bass with Kevin VanDam
You Can’t Beat the Red Eye Shad
Editor’s Note: One of the best guides you can have in your boat with you this year is Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan. VanDam won two of the B.A.S.S. 2007 Elite Tournaments and finished second in the point standings on the Elite Series to win the Angler-of-the-Year title. This week, VanDam will tell you where to find bass and how to catch them during November.
Question: Kevin, where are you locating bass, and how are you catching them in November?
VanDam: As most fishermen know, the answer to this question is lake-dependent. You have to consider where the lake’s located, the type of lake you’re fishing, the water and the weather conditions, and the kind of structure the lake has in it. However, I’ll try to give you my five favorite go-to tactics this month.
In many sections of the country, November is one of the best months to be fishing. The bass will be moving to the backs of the creeks, following shad, and this month can be a great time for catching big bass. One of my favorite baits for this time of year when the water starts cooling down is the Red Eye Shad. At home, in Michigan, I’ll be fishing the Red Eye Shad until the lakes ice-up. Even down South, when the water begins cooling off, the bass may stop chasing spinner baits. But bass can’t leave the flat-sided Red Eye Shad alone. They have to eat it. The Red Eye Shad is one of the best cold-water baits ever made. Any time I find bass holding in water where I can hit the bottom with a lure, bounce it off a stump or run it through grass, I’ll catch bass on the Red Eye Shad. I love to fish the Red Eye Shad around bridges and rip rap and parallel it down creek channels. The beauty of this bait is that you don’t have to cast it out and burn it back to the boat for it to be effective. At this time of year, I like to slow down the Red Eye Shad and fish it on fluorocarbon line. Then I can let the bait get down under the water and feel everything the lure touches. I’ll use a pull-and-stop, which is almost a yo-yo type of retrieve for this month.
Another big advantage to fishing the Red Eye Shad is it will enable you to find fish when you’re searching for them. You can cover a lot of water with it. However, unlike other lures, when you find a concentration of bass, you don’t have to change lures to catch the fish. You can continue to fish the Red Eye Shad and catch bass where you locate them. One of the most-effective ways to get a bite on the Red Eye Shad is to kill it and let it fall. When you kill the bait, and it starts to sink, the Red Eye Shad swims nose down, wiggling as it swims to the bottom. This is the only lipless bait with this action. When I kill the bait, I don’t fish it on a slack line. I want to feel the bait as it falls, so I can feel the strike when the fish hits it. The real key to catching bass in November on the Red Eye Shad is to rip it through grass, bounce it off a stump, a rock or a log and then let it fall. That’s when the bass will take it.
I hope other competitors don’t hear what I’m about to say. In November, I have the most confidence when I’m fishing the Red Eye Shad. I have an advantage over other fishermen in a tournament when I’m fishing this lure, and they’re not. I know the bass are biting the Red Eye Shad, not because of the action fishermen give this lure, but because of the action built into the lure. There aren’t many lures in my tackle box that the action built into the bait is better than the action I can put on the bait. But the Red Eye Shad is one of those special lures. The Red Eye Shad has been by far my hottest bait over the last couple of years, especially since Strike King has started building it in the Sexy-Shad color. Don’t get me wrong, I fish all the colors of the Red Eye Shad, depending on water and weather conditions, but my favorite is the Sexy-Shad color.
Tomorrow: The King of Clear Water