Brandon Palaniuk of Hayden, Idaho, just finished in 7th place on August 26, 2018, at the Bassmaster Elite Tournament on the St. Lawrence River. He’s also ranked 10th for the 2018 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship at Lake Chatuge in Young Harris, Georgia, September 20-23, 2018.
Often your best opportunity to catch a really nice bass will occur just before the sun comes up or goes down. My favorite lure to start off the morning is the Storm Arashi Top Walker from Rapala. I like this bait for several reasons: I can cover lots of water quickly with it, it creates a lot of commotion on the surface, and I can slow down this bait to keep it in a bass’s strike zone for a longer time. A very versatile lure, my favorite color for low- light bassing with the Top Walker is IU, which has a green back and white sides.
If for some reason I can’t catch bass on the Top Walker, I’ll fish a jerkbait like the Rapala Shadow Rap Deep that runs about 5-6 feet deep. Sometimes the bass don’t want to come to the surface. If that’s the mood the bass are in, then I have a lot of confidence in this Shadow Rap Deep. I can fish this bait quickly and make it move erratically to get the bass to react to the lure. This lure also is effective when you find bass schooling on the surface that then go down or quit hitting the topwater bait. I often can pick up one or two more bass with this jerkbait.
The third bait I’ll use on low-light days is a weightless, wacky-rigged Zoom Fluke Stick, a typical stick-type bait but with a forked tail, which gives it a slightly different action and more shimmy than other stick baits on the fall. I believe this Fluke Stick draws bass from further away than a regular stick bait does. I’ll rig it on a No. 2 VMC hook.
I’ll fish this same three-bait system late in the afternoon, as well as early in the morning, and on cloudy and overcast days. By using these three baits, you’ll often catch the really aggressive bass with the Storm Arashi Top Walker. When the bass aren’t aggressive, I’ll fish the Rapala Shadow Rap Deep to cover lots of water. Then the Fluke Stick is more of a finesse bait. With it, I’ll slow my fishing down to catch the non-aggressive bass that can’t pass up that fat, slow-moving worm as it falls to the bottom.
For late summer fishing tactics, when it's hot and the bass are hard to find, there are three main ways to locate bass this time of year.