In October, I like to fish the Ouachita River with its plentiful cover. When the weather starts cooling down, the spotted and largemouth bass and the shad will head for the shoreline and move into the many laydowns and sandbars.

The Ouachita River is a productive place to use buzz baits and spinnerbaits this month to catch bass in the backwaters or on the main river. I prefer to fish bends in the river, cuts in the riverbank and invisible cover in the main river.

Oftentimes in October, the backwaters may turn over and have slightly off fishing, but the river has enough flow to keep the water stratified.

The shallows

You won't catch many big bass on the Ouachita River in October, but you'll take numbers of spotted bass and largemouths when the water temperature is in the upper 60s to low 70s. On one cast, I'll catch a largemouth, and on the next cast to the same target, I may land a spotted bass.

This time of year is the best for fishing topwater baits. I'll start the morning fishing with a 3/8-ounce Strike King Premier Plus buzz bait. If the day's sunny and the water's clear, I'll fish a white buzz bait. If the day's overcast or the water's slightly darker, I'll fish a black buzz bait.

I always use a nickel blade in October because the bass are looking for shad. I'll be fishing this bait with a medium-to-fast retrieve.

Fish fast and steady

If you don't reel the buzz bait fast enough, bass will blow up on the lure, but won't commit and take it. That's why I like a medium-to-fast retrieve. The faster I reel the bait, the fewer bass I'll miss in October.

I'll also cover a lot of water fishing the buzz bait, casting to any type of cover like a big log, a tree in the water or on a clean bank with no structure. The bass are moving to shallow water with or without structure in the Ouachita then. Although bass tend to be more scattered in October, they'll scatter along the bank.

When I'm fishing a buzz bait, I'll use a 6-foot, 10-inch Quantum Tour Edition PT Kevin VanDam Signature Series rod and a Quantum Tour Edition PT Reel with a 6:1 gear ratio. Sometimes I'll use a 7:1 gear ratio.

I'll fish with 20-pound-test Gamma fluorocarbon line because I'm making long casts. This strong line doesn't have any stretch to it, and allows me to get a better hookset than I do with traditional monofilament line.

Use a buzz bait

On a day with partially cloudy skies or a little wind on the water's surface, I'll fish a buzz bait all day. When there's a slick calm and a bluebird day, I'll abandon the buzz bait after daylight and start flipping, because the bass will pull tight into the cover. To catch these bass, you have to use a flipping tactic to get into that cover and present the bait to them.

Throw a popper

If I'm not fishing a buzz bait, I'll throw a popper like the Strike King Spit-N-King. A popper is an exciting way to fish. Fall is the best time to fish topwater baits because the days are cooler, the bass will bite all day and most topwater baits resemble some type of shad, the favorite food of bass now.

Unlike most people, I don't like a stop-and-go retrieve when I'm fishing a popper like the Spit-N-King. I let the bass tell me whether they want a slow, steady retrieve or prefer a fast, steady retrieve. Oftentimes when a bass hits a bait stopped on the surface, the fish won't put it in its mouth. But if you keep that bait moving, you'll catch more bass.

I don't set the hook until I feel the weight of the fish on the line when I'm fishing a popper. I'll use 20-pound-test Gamma monofilament line to get that line to float when I'm fishing a popper. If I use fluorocarbon line that sinks, it will pull the nose of my popper down, and the action on the bait won't be as good as it will with monofilament line.

Hooksets

Some people have a problem fishing topwater lures because they can't break the habit of setting their hooks on their strikes. I recommend looking away from the bait, so you can't see the strike. Then, set the hook when you feel the strike.

You'll get a lot of strikes on the Ouachita River in October. After missing a few fish, you'll slow down and wait to feel the fish instead of striking when the fish blows up on the bait.

Tubes

If my topwater baits aren't working, I'll fish a Strike King Bleeding Bait Tube, and that red color makes a difference. This Bleeding Bait tube has a fish profile, and can look like a crawfish or a shad.

My favorite colors in October are smoke-red, black-neon and green-pumpkin.

I'll take all these baits to the Ouachita River in October. I've fished these lures before on this river, and always have been highly successful.