There’s no doubt in my mind that the heart of fall is one of the best times of the year to target bass with spoons. But if you’re anything like me, you’re quick to abandon the depths (and associated spoon patterns) and run to the bank at the first site of rising water. And I understand; spooning is just not as attractive as flippin’ wood. I’m not suggesting running to the bank can’t pay out, but the successes I’ve had when I chose to remain in the open depths with a spoon have been some of the most memorable. The trick to staying productive with spoons this time of year is tweaking your presentation when the water rises.
Let me start off by saying that each rising-water situation presents itself differently depending on the body of water, the location of the fish prior to that rise, and the primary forage (among other variables). That said, if there’s a plentiful offshore baitfish population, and if there’s a high spot on the bottom near the deep water where the fish had been holding, then I’m really likely to continue spooning. The high spot is critical, because bass nearby will often migrate there instead of to the bank when the water rises. Take note that you may have to upsize your spoon in off-color water, possibly lighten it up so that it falls slower, or even add a few color highlights in the form of paint stripes or treble feathers.
The biggest advantage of the spoon is that it can catch fish in any part of the water column as it falls, and that’s exactly what continues to happen when the water rises abruptly. Many times, bass will lose that thermocline balance and suspend loosely around the next closest upward latitude of structure. The photo here is my graph next to a ledge where I usually catch bass in 22 to 25 feet of water on the spoon. Post Hurricane Matthew the bass and shad moved up to the 12- to 14-foot range, and keep right on hammering my spoons. Other bottom baits may actually become less effective. Shorter casts and drops in and around the bait balls with the spoon get it done. Just be sure to keep a close eye on the line during the drop, and be ready to set if your spoon stops dropping before it gets to the bottom.