When I think of September bass fishing, I think of fishing around shallow targets. Of course, many anglers associate bass fishing with shallow cover, as a bass is an ambush feeder, but the thing that separates the average angler from the expert in dissecting shallow cover is understanding casting angles.
One of the first things every angler should do, regardless of their skill level, is to always strive to become a better caster. Casting accuracy is the number one thing anyone can do to help them catch more bass. I can take someone who has never caught a fish in their entire life, and spend the day teaching them to be an accurate caster, and they will be able to go out the next day and catch fish.
Once you gain confidence in your casting ability, the next step in maximizing your success around shallow cover is to understand casting angles. Learning casting angles requires an understanding of boat position, wind or current, sun or shade, and fish personality.
Boat position is the first consideration. The most important part of boat positioning is making sure that the boat’s momentum does not take you out of position. Momentum can put you too close to cover, or too far away. Learning to understand how your boat drifts is key. This drift is affected by trolling motor speed, wind and current, so each of these factors will have to be considered as you approach the cover.
You’ll also need to consider shade or sun. Most of the time the bass will prefer the shady side of cover, unless the water is very cold in which case the sunny side may produce better.
Once these considerations are factored in, that is when fish personality and lure selection come in to complete the puzzle.
In order to figure those factors out you will need to study the cover. Is it horizontal or vertical? Which part of it is deeper or shallower? Is part of the cover thicker than other parts of it? Most of the time, the fish will be positioned in the thickest part of the cover or the part of it that offers the best ambush point.
Your casting angles should come with the current and into the shade initially. Once these angles have been tried, then begin throwing cross current and into the current. Try casting to the sunny side and bringing your bait into the shade. And most importantly, make multiple casts at the same angles. Many times, these repeated casts will trigger a sluggish bass.
As you go through these processes, make sure you vary your retrieve speed with those baits that you cast and wind. Speed them up and slow them down on consecutive casts. If you are flipping or pitching, dissect every inch of the cover.
And finally, once you have exhausted all angles and retrieves, try fishing out away from the cover. Many times the bass will relate to the cover without holding right next it.
Be persistent, stay stealthy, and your success level on shallow cover will increase dramatically!