Many of us around the country have had our first little taste of cooler temperatures, as fall officially kicked off on September 22nd. Though a few steamy days are left for some, the water temps are already starting to shift as the days shorten and the nights start to cool.
For Florida native and MONSTERBASS Ambassador Robbie Mendez, this shift into fall fishing means one thing— it’s swimbait season.
“I’m starting to go to the big swimbaits now,” said Mendez. “This time of the year when the shad start schooling up, throwing those big swimbaits in the middle of the schools really gets them going.”
Mendez uses a wide variety of swimbaits and terminal tackle to target bass in the fall, but a 7-inch Huddleston is one of his go-to baits at the moment.
“I have this blue with a white bottom color, and that seems to be getting bit pretty good. That one and the shad color are really getting some bites. If I see a school of bait, I’ll toss it out by the school and let it sink a little bit and then just slow roll it.”
In doing this, Mendez is allowing his bait to sink below the school of baitfish, where the bass are lurking and looking for anything out of the ordinary. “I feel like once it gets down below the school in the water column, they kind of single it out because it looks different.”
When the fish won’t quite commit to the Huddleston, Mendez will move to a couple smaller soft plastic swimbaits.
“I like to use the 4-inch X-zone Swammer with a little jighead. That seems to get a bite. I started using the bigger X-Zone Swammer recently too, but I don’t use it on a jighead. I use it on weighted belly hook. And that seems to work pretty good.”
These two options broaden Mendez’s arsenal and give him swimbaits to use in a variety of different situations.
"I go with the bigger swimbaits when it’s a little bit hotter outside and the sun is overhead. And I swap over If it’s a little overcast to the smaller swimbait on an underspin. That really gets a good bite.”
Though Mendez will fish a swimbait given pretty much any conditions in the fall, he does lean more heavily on swimmers in certain scenarios.
“I’d prefer a nice windy day with a little bit of overcast. I feel like before those fronts come in is when they really start biting. They always seem to bite pretty good right when those fronts move in or right when they’re leaving.”
Swimbaits serve Mendez well regardless of the type of cover he’s fishing around as well, and if there’s no cover at all.
"I fish it all, cover, out in the open, there's so much open water and structure everywhere here in Florida.”
If Mendez can’t get the bass to bite a swimbait, or if he’s simply wanting to move around a little faster until he finds a more productive area where he feels more confident slowing down to the swimbait, he’ll swap to one particular bait this time of year.
“During the fall time, I really like throwing a lipless crankbait. That’s my next go to when they’re not biting the big swimbaits. That’s more of a search bait and I can walk around and throw it out. Or if I’m in the kayak I can toss it anywhere. It’ll cover open water and I can just see where I can get a bite.”
Though he’ll use the lipless to eliminate areas and locate productive water, Mendez really likes to settle into the swimbait rotation during the fall. Moving from the Huddleston to smaller soft plastic swimbaits rig various ways, Mendez has a little something that will work in nearly any situation. And it’s likely one of these will work wherever you fish as well.