How to Attack Suspending Bass

September 08, 2021
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Bass fishing in September can be challenging due to the heat and lack of rain. Vertical fishing is the best approach, as the thermocline at the lake bottom affects bass behavior. Recognizing the thick grass line at the bottom can help make the right move and bait selection, especially in lakes with no oxygen-producing grass.

Some of the most difficult bass fishing for the weekend fisherman is trying to figure a way to catch suspending fish. Scanning the bottom seeing fish suspended between the bait balls and the thermocline can be scary for the inexperienced fisherman. As the heat and lack of rain becomes the norm going into the month of September many times the best approach is to attack the bite vertically. All summer long this year we have been fortunate to continue to see unusual amounts of rain. If history repeats itself, we will see September as a dry, and sticky month; it will form a thermocline at the bottom of the lake and vertical fishing will be you best presentation until it starts to cool. Understanding this as a key element and how this affects what the bass are doing will be key! Your job will be to figure out how to make the bass bite something and many times this is not easy.

One key to this is understanding the thermocline and how it affects the fish. You can actually see this on your electronics, it looks like a thick grass line at the bottom of the lake, in 20 plus feet of water. What this means is the oxygen has been depleted from the bottom of the lake forcing the bass to suspend above it. You will see bait balls and other species of fish above the thermocline and the bass will be above this yet under the bait. Many people in grassy lakes just assume its deep grass. But, it's not and being able to determine a thick thermocline many times will be the difference in making the correct move and bait selection. Learning to recognize this will help you have successful trips until the rain comes back and moves the oxygen back in all areas of the lake. This phenom can be the toughest time of the year especially in lakes that do not have grass that produces oxygen in the shallows, as occurs on Lake Guntersville.

When the days get hot and sticky and the water temperature hits the mid to upper 80’s, generally the fish suspend especially during the late morning and mid afternoon. When this happens versatility as an angler is key. There are certain elements that you have to be aware of to overcome the lethargic feeding patterns during this time. One very important key is the position the bass are in and the only way to see it is to scan the bottom with your Lowrance Structure scan. In doing this, I believe that there are two kinds of suspending fish, those that positioned under the bait fish and those that are not. The bass under the bait can be targeted with vertical presentations but you must force feed them and get them to react to what you are presenting.

When you see them positioned under the bait, you have found what I believe are catchable fish. This is when vertical presentations become a killer presentation. The good news is that there are many ways to fish vertically. The first one I like is a big jigging spoon; something in the 4 to 5 inch range with a weight of at least an ounce. I also like to take a 3⁄4 oz. Tight-Line football jig with a small paddling trailer like the Missile Bait D-Bomb. Get it to drop under the bait fish.

Many times, just leaving the jig on the bottom to spider out from the current will catch a fish. A drop shot rigged with small finesse worms, gobies, leeches or senko’s are killers for the drop shot enthusiast.

The elements are always key to catching bass and understanding them. By making yourself aware of the elements can lead to a very productive day on the water. Combine your awareness with good vertical techniques catches fish!

Captain Mike Gerry

Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service


Call: 256 759 2270

Mike Gerry In The Spread, Instructor
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