Sep 9, 2017
Fishing Riprap for Fall Bass
By Glenn Walker
Riprap is something that can be found on pretty much any lake or river that a bass angler fishes. Riprap is rock that has been placed on the bank to prevent boat wakes and waves from eroding the shoreline. Riprap will primarily be found on developed sections of shoreline, around bridges and sections of the main channel on large river systems, such as the Mississippi River.
One primary reason that riprap holds bass is that algae will grow on the rocks, thus attracting aquatic insects, bringing in bluegills or baitfish, and finally calling the bass in! The rock will also help the water on them warm quicker than other areas of the lake or river, so in the fall, riprap is a great place to start the day when water temperatures are still low in your other fishing areas.
Being that the amount of riprap on a given body of water may be endless, here are some tips on identifying key sections and tips on how to catch bass along these rock-lined shorelines.
I like to look for riprap that is close to deep water, as this allows the bass to slide up and down the steeper break line easily. To locate this, I’ll pay close attention to my Humminbird electronics with the LakeMaster chip in it to see where the deep water butts right up to the riprap. I’ll also be looking for small riprap points that extend out into the deeper water. And while side imaging, I’m always on the lookout for that lone boulder that is sitting on the flat.
By taking a look at my ScoutLook Fishing App, I’m able to garner some key information for targeting bass during the fall months. I’ll look at the wind direction. Many times the side of the lake that has the wind blowing into it is a great place to begin your search for bass during the fall, as the wind will be pushing warmer water into the shallows, along with food.
When you start catching bass on riprap, be sure to identify any other forms of cover that are present, such as laydowns, stumps or grass. Anytime you can combine multiple forms of cover it allows you to pattern the bass quicker. I also pay attention to how the current is hitting the rock. Meaning, I’m looking for sections of riprap that have a current break or if the current is non-existent, then I’ll want to fish the section that has the current hitting it.
Many times bass will school up on key sections of riprap, these areas you’ll want to make repeated casts to and to accomplish this your boat control will need to be on point! If I’m able to, I’ll deploy my dual Minn Kota Talon’s. By doing this my boat will stay in one spot, allowing me to focus on making precise casts and keeping my boat from moving towards or away from the section of riprap I’m fishing. If my boat is in deeper water, then I’ll rely on the Spot-lock feature on my Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motor. What is great about this feature is that once I want to move up, down or away from the riprap, I can use the Jog feature to move in five foot increments.
I like to start out fishing riprap by covering water quickly, as this will allow me to identify any key sections that are holding more bass than other sections.
Using a topwater plug is a great way to mimic fish feeding on the water’s surface, which is what bass are keying in on in the fall. My go-to topwater plugs are walk-the-dog style baits, such as the Rapala Skitter-V and Zara Spook. With either of these baits, you can work them as slow or as fast as you need to. If there is a grass line that runs parallel to the riprap, then I’ll throw a War Eagle Buzzbait.
If the bass don’t want to hit a topwater, a sub-surface lure like a Rapala DT Series crankbait is a great choice. Depending on the depth of water I’m trying to target, I can use a DT-4, DT-6 or DT-10 and achieve that target depth with ease. My other go-to lure in the fall when fishing riprap is a War Eagle Spinnerbait that has a tandem Colorado/Willowleaf blade combination, either a 3/8 or ½ oz size, depending on the depth of water and current I’m fishing.
When I locate a key section or riprap, or if the fishing pressure or weather conditions dictate that you need to slow down, I’ll pitch a jig or Texas-rigged soft plastic. My go-to flipping jig is a ½ oz. War Eagle Flipping Jig in either black/blue or green pumpkin depending on the water clarity. I’ll experiment with my trailer based on the rate of fall and profile the bass want, but I’ll begin with a Zoom Super Chunk and then either down size to a Super Chunk Jr. or go up in size to the new Zoom Z-Craw Jr. as a trailer in black/blue or green pumpkin depending on the water clarity and I’ll use a Zoom Super Chunk as a trailer. When it comes to fishing a Texas-rigged soft plastic, I like a compact bait, such as the Zoom Z-Craw or Z-Craw Jr., if fishing pressure dictates I down size. The nuts and bolts of my Texas-rig include a 5/16, 3/8 or 7/16 oz. tungsten weight, size is dependent on the depth of water and current I’m fishing in, along with a Lazer TroKar TK-133 Pro V Bend Flippin’ Hook (3/0 or 4/0).
The next time you drop your boat in the water on your favorite lake or river, don’t just drive by that riprap by the boat ramp or around a bridge, drop your trolling motor and make some casts as you may be surprised at the fishing action you may be in for!
Glenn Walker has been fishing tournaments for over ten years, spreading his passion and knowledge of the sport via articles and videos. He keeps busy fishing events across the Midwest and on the Mississippi River. Glenn's sponsors include: Bass Boat Technologies, Ducky Products, Humminbird, Mercury Marine, Minn Kota, Plano, Rayjus, Seaguar, Simms, Snag Proof, T-H Marine, The Rod Glove, TroKar, War Eagle Custom Lures, Witch Doctor Tackle, Wright & McGill and Zoom Baits. For more information check out glennwalkerfishing.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/glennwalkerfishing.