By Shane Beilue
Football on the weekends, daily temperatures ticking slightly lower and hunters heading for the blinds all mark the arrival of the fall season. This also means fewer boats on the water which means hardcore bassheads can have some of the best fishing of the year to themselves. I won’t tell if you won’t!
Obviously, we know balls of shad move into the shallow sections of creek arms and pockets this time of year and bass are always in pursuit of the bait by travelling in packs to ambush the shallow bait pods. You may also notice that schools of bass will pull up on a shallow flat, secondary point or a pocket at a specific time each day and you can frequently time your schedule to be there with them. This is a time to pick up the pace to search out these key feeding areas by using faster moving baits that allow you to cover water and find these active bass.
Naturally, shad-imitating baits are key lures to throw in the fall and there are many that fit the bill: spinnerbaits, bladed jigs, crankbaits and topwaters are all great suggestions, but don’t forget the Yamamoto Heart Tail swimbait this fall. This bait has several attributes that make it an excellent choice for shallow, active bass.
First, the Heart Tail is a 4.5” bait with quite a bit of heft. It casts a mile and fits the bill of allowing you to cover large amounts of water during the retrieve. Additionally, the bait has that namesake Heart Tail design and a wide body so it swims very naturally through the water, but it also has a little wobble and roll to it that produces a somewhat erratic look on the retrieve.
Finally, you can retrieve the Heart Tail around dense vegetation or wood without much concern for continuous snags – leading to the real key for triggering more strikes: banging it into the cover as you reel it to the boat. As you make the cast, look for alleyways and lanes in the cover, then steer the Heart Tail into nearby wood, rocks or vegetation to achieve that all important change of direction. You’ll notice many strikes occur as the bait deflects suddenly.
It’s important to rig the bait with a weighted 4/0 hook, with the hook point barely tucked within the back of the plastic to keep it weedless. The weight on the hook can range from 1/8, 1/4 or even 1/2 ounce, depending on desired depth; however, the 1/4 ounce seems the most versatile for combining speed on the retrieve while maintaining a depth just under the surface for active fall bass.
Throw the lure on 15-20# fluorocarbon, depending upon the amount and density of the cover. A 7’ medium/heavy rod with high speed reel completes the perfect set up for throwing the Heart Tail all day long.
Without a doubt, Yamamoto oofers some of the best assortment of colors in the business and shad colors like Olive Shad (948), Blueback Herring (947) and Pearl White (364) are all excellent choices.
Keep the Heart Tail moving at a rather fast clip, as the speed of the retrieve can also be a trigger for the bass. The fish eat this bait in a violent fashion, darting out of nearby cover in a flash. Just try to avoid celebrating so loud you scare the game for nearby hunters!