John's Journal...


Bet On The Baitfish

Click to enlarge Editor’s Note: Longtime, nationally-known bass-fishing pro Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has proved to everyone in the bass-fishing world that he can catch bass year-round. VanDam's many wins and his title of Bassmasters Classic Champion attest to his ability to catch fish. VanDam says that during October and November, bass are keying in on baitfish, and in the South, bass are primarily feeding on shad. In the North in October and November, bass may be feeding on shad, perch or LYs. Because VanDam understands this, he fishes with baitfish-imitating lures these months. This week VanDam shares with us his five-favorite October and November bass patterns.

My number-one lure for this time of the year is the spinner bait. In the South, the spinner bait is just kicking in as a great tactic in October. In the North, the spinner bait is already good. Water clarity dictates how you should fish your Strike King spinner bait. If I'm fishing in a clear-water lake with 3 feet of visibility or more, I'll be fishing the new Bleeding Bait Series of spinner baits from Strike King. I like the shad pattern, and I like to fish these baits fast. I Click to enlargelike to fish the 1/2-ounce tandem willow-leaf spinner bait fast. Windy banks, the tops of lay-down trees, underwater grass and submerged rocks are my primary targets. I also use this spinner bait to fish a lot of flats because I can fish these flats fast and find bass quickly with this new spinner bait

.In the South in the fall, the shad will be moving to the backs of creeks, and the bass will follow the shad there. On the northern lakes, for instance where I live in Michigan, the bass will be moving onto the flats and feeding up for winter. Right now's the beginning of the glory time of fall bass fishing. These next couple of weeks can be as great a bass fishing time as you'll ever have in the fall.

One of the reasons more people don't catch more bass on a spinner bait in clear water is because they don't fish spinner baits fast enough. I use the Quantum PT Series Bait Casting Reel in the high-speed series with the 6-3-1 gear ratio, and I'll be smoking the reel. When I'm retrieving a spinner bait in clear water, I'm cranking that reel from 3/4 to as fast as I can possibly turn the handle on the reel. Now, fishing a spinner bait that fast all day long is hard.Click to enlarge Therefore, not many people use this technique to catch bass in clear-water lakes, which is one of the reasons I fish this way. Most bass in clear-water lakes haven't seen a spinner bait swimming at breakneck speed just under the surface before. They haven't seen that type lure moving that fast that they will attack. My favorite color is Strike King’s Bleeding White spinner bait.

I fished this new bait for five days here in Michigan while filming a TV Show, and I really smashed the fish. I couldn't believe how many bass I caught on this lure. This new lure had a red wire arm and a little clear-plastic blade that went over the rear blade and gave off a red glow as it spun like a salmon blade, plus it had a red hook and a red head. I was using this lure to catch smallmouths in crystal-clear water, and it was unbelievable how many smallmouth I caught with this Bleeding White spinner bait in that clear water.

I believe this spinner bait is so effective not only because I'm fishing it fast in the upper-water column, but also when a bass looks up at a baitfish, usually all he sees is a white belly. Regardless of what the baitfish is, Click to enlargethat's the color that the bass sees. When you put flashes of red with that white belly, which represents an injured baitfish moving fast, the bass just naturally has to eat it.

I don't steady wind the spinner bait. I give it jerks and twitches as I'm burning it through the water because I want the spinner bait to look like a wounded baitfish. Injured
baitfish don't swim on a steady course, like baitfish do that aren't injured.

I also like Strike King’s 1/2-ounce Bleeding Premier Elite spinner bait with the double willow-leaf blade. If the water is a little stained, I prefer chartreuse and white colors. If the water is more stained, I'll choose the Colorado and willow-leaf combination blades, and I'll want to fish with a 3/8-ounce spinner bait.


Check back each day this week for more about MY FIVE FAVORITE OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER PATTERNS WITH KEVIN VANDAM...

Day 1 - Bet On The Baitfish
Day 2 - VanDam's Second Choice for Clear-Water Fishing - The Wild Shiner Jerkbait
Day 3 - VanDam's Favorite Fall Tube Techniques
Day 4 - Double Down With a Swimming Jig in the Fall
Day 5 - Bet On The Top-Water Bite



Entry 271, Day 1