By Jonathan LePera
Special to BassFan

Fall is a special time of year for Bassmaster Elite Series angler Jared Lintner. Using a variety of topwater baits, Lintner targets a slew of California lakes close to his Arroyo Grande home.

“Besides the spring, it’s our favorite time to fish because they get crazy,” he said. “It can get frustrating, too. I’ve spent a lot of hours out there without a bite. Once you figure out the cadence or where they’re at, then it becomes the best day of your life you don't want to end.”

Why Topwater in the Fall?

As summer turns to fall and days get shorter and the air gets cooler, the feeding window before winter opens up. The trick is finding where the bass are hiding and to do that requires a willingness to cover water.

“What I look for is a couple of nasty cold fronts,” Lintner said. “One day, it’s 80 degrees and they next day you wake up and it’s overcast, drizzly, and have to put a jacket on because it’s 60 all day. That’s what I think really triggers the baitfish to move back in the creeks and start their migration. The bass will follow.”

In a grass lake or anywhere with emergent or submerged vegetation, once the water temperatures begin to drop, the grass is going to start to dissipate. This congregates the fish and the bait and once they get bunched up, the topwater bite ignites.

While pre-fishing for a fall event at Clear Lake, both the buzzbait and a swimbait were producing. The night before the tournament, a nasty cold front came in and led Lintner to believe his topwater bite was done.

“The first 3 or 4 hours of the morning it was snowing,” he remembered. “It was the most hellacious buzzbait bite I’ve ever been on in my life – unbelievable.”

What to Offer

If Lintner sees big fish blowing up on bait, he’ll throw a bone or white Jackall Bowstick, an oversized walking bait.

If baitfish are extremely shallow near shoreline, near grass, and with docks, wood or stumps nearby, and Linter knows fish are present, he’ll fish an Eco Pro Tungsten War Cry buzzbait. Black is always on standby and when wanting to emulate bluegill, Lintner custom ties skirts with green pumpkin and include orange highlights.

Lintner will tweak the bait by bending the wire so that the blade strikes the tungsten head on each revolution.

“It sounds like a garbage truck driving down your driveway pulling a chain,” Lintner said.

If the sound is a turn off, he’ll bend the wires back. When seeking a big fish, he’ll throw a double-bladed D&M Double Buzz, which provides both sound and a big profile.

Jared Lintner
Photo: Jared Lintner

The Jackall Pompadour and an Eco Pro Tungsten buzzbait are two of Lintner's favorite options in the autumn.

The Jackall Pompadour, a mix of several baits in one, produces for him in the clutch. Lintner believes the appeal lies in that fish have not been exposed to the bait much and it produces a slow, methodically unnerving (and noisy) wobble that induces strikes from otherwise cagey fish.

Outside the Box

Linter’s buzzbait trailer of choice is an 8-inch black or white lizard with a trailer hook.

“I like the added action with the legs and curl tail, plus it adds a little bit of bulk to the bait,” he said.

After a friend out-fished Lintner while throwing a topwater bait with a front red treble hook, he tweaked his topwaters just the same that night. The following day, he caught four times as many fish. All his topwaters now have a red front hook.

Cadence is Key

Lintner lets the fish dictate the cadence of his retrieves. He’ll start with a steady, walking action. If there are no takers, he’ll work some pauses into his retrieve. He’ll then try two twitches, then let it sit, then twitch it three times and let it sit.

Lintner once won a tournament where only two limits were caught. His team caught seven fish in two days and all were caught on a Spook.

“You had to deadstick it for 30 seconds or more to get them to bite it,” he added. “We found that out because we had a really bad backlash in practice and then an 8-pounder ate it. I’m talking open the cooler, grab a water, have a sandwich, look at your bait, take a bite, take another bite, then move it. It was painful, but I’ve seen it like that on more than one occasion.”

On pressured bodies of water, Lintner knows that most anglers use the same retrieve and casting angle.

“I’ll figure out another angle to make that cast with that same bait that everyone is throwing,” he said. “It’s crazy how many fish we catch behind people.”

Geared Up

> Open-water walking baits: 7’5” medium-heavy G. Loomis GLX FPR 894 casting rod, Shimano Metanium casting reel (7.4:1 ratio), 25-pound Sunline Super Natural monofilament line.

> Other walking baits: 7’ G. Loomis IMX MBR 844 casting rod, same reel, same line.

> Buzzbait and Pompadour: 7’5” medium-action G. Loomis Mossy Back FPR 893 casting rod, Shimano Curado casting reel (6.3:1 ratio), 50- and 60-pound Sunline FX2 braided line.