Glenn Goodson of LaGrange casts a long shadow. He is a tower of a man who teaches at Callaway Middle School. In addition to his duties as a math teacher, he is a coach for the school’s baseball and football teams. On the water, he is quite a professor as well. His extensive knowledge of bass and their habits has made him a consistently good performer in the tournaments he fishes with the West Georgia Bass Club and American Bass Anglers (ABA).
In fact, Glenn recently returned from the ABA’s Southeast Regional on Alabama’s Smith Lake. In a tough week of fishing which saw the winner weigh in 18 pounds of bass over two days and beat the field by four pounds, Glenn finished in the top 50 out of 200 anglers. He qualified for the event by winning ABA’s 2007 Angler of the Year for District 99, the district in which he fishes.
On a Tuesday morning in mid October, Glenn took a poor student in Crankbait 101 (yours truly) and taught him a thing or two about catching bass on West Point. And while Glenn will do several things to boat bass in November on West Point, including throwing a Carolina rig, a finesse worm rigged on a jig head and even some top- water baits, Glenn would rather cast a crankbait than anything else.
“I prefer to fish fast,” Glenn said. “A crankbait covers a lot of water, and it’s a proven way to catch plenty of fish.”
His tactics work, and in about five hours of fishing on West Point, I watched Glenn boat more than a dozen fish, most of them coming on the same crankbait fished around shallow brush- piles.
The areas Glenn and I fished would normally be a few feet below the water’s surface, even with the lake at winter levels. However, if the lake was at full pool, Glenn would start his outings looking for the same type of water and flinging the same plugs.
“November is normally a good time to catch fish shallow. In fact, you can find some fish shallow all year long,” Glenn noted. “In November, I look for long clay banks with rock or wood cover on them to target fish.”
Midway through our trip, Glenn positioned his boat along a clay bank halfway back in a long pocket and made a cast just past a Christmas tree, the top of which was visible under the water’s surface. As he reeled his Mann’s Minus 4 down into the sunken tree it struck limbs, bounced around, darted and flipped free of the wood before a solid 4-lb. largemouth smashed it. Glenn had already boated a few short spots and a pair of keepers before the bass struck, and when he set the hook and the water swirled, he knew he was into a quality fish.
As he unhooked the bass, Glenn said, “Four or five like that one in a tournament is a good way to win some money.”
Both of us caught a few bass before that one struck, but I had stuck almost exclusively with a spinnerbait. After watching Glenn catch several fish, I found a shallow-running plug in my tacklebox that looked similar to what he was throwing, tied it on, and within five minutes, was catching bass of my own. In the same pocket in fact, Glenn and I caught a half-dozen bass in about a half hour.
Glenn relies on shallow-running plugs to cover the water near banks, and switches to a medium-diving crankbait when he’s fishing a little deeper. No matter what depth he is covering, however, Glenn wants his crankbait to be beating and banging off any structure he can find.
“I like that little Mann’s the best, and I’ve caught a million fish on it,” Glenn said. “I also throw Rapalas like the DT-6s. When I’m fishing deeper, I’ll switch to a DT-10.”
Glenn is not a stickler for particular colors for the most part, but he does have favorites.
“I don’t know that it really matters a whole lot, but I prefer a plug with a blue back or one that looks like a shad,” Glenn pointed out.
If you have ever fished much with a crankbait, you know that fish come unhooked fairly frequently. On good days, when a bass really wants the plug you are throwing, you just about can’t miss. On other days, when fish are striking with less gusto, treble hooks can become a tricky thing. Glenn changes all the treble hooks on his crankbaits right out of the box. Factory hooks are sharp these days, but there are better versions on the market and Glenn will use Triple Grips or Gamakatsus.
“Either one is good,” Glenn said. “You’ll still lose a fish every once in a while, even on the better hooks, but they do help.”
On his crankbait rods, Glenn relies on fast bait- casting reels spooled with 15- to 17-lb. test monofilament. The heavier line is a little more buoyant, and it’s more resistant to the nicks and abrasions that occur when reeling a bait through rocks and tree branches. The good news about a crankbait is it’s easy to fish. Just cast it, and reel it in. The plugs, which are designed to run at different depths, will get down in the water where they are supposed to be. The critical thing that turns casting and reeling into fish catching is when the little-billed plastic baits begin pin- balling off underwater features.
“It’s inevitable that you’re going to hang it up sometimes, but that’s where the fish are,” Glenn said. “When I’m crankbait fishing, I’ m trying to keep the lure in contact with rock or wood.”
Many anglers are believers in the idea that when their crankbait strikes structure, a quick stop will sometimes draw a strike. Glenn says it will. But he also advises fishermen to vary their retrieve with a crankbait until it’s apparent what the fish are keying on.
“I change it up,” Glenn said. “Sometimes the lure deflecting off structure is enough to trigger a strike. Sometimes I’ll speed the lure up, some- times I’ll slow it down and sometimes I’ll stop it. Different days it takes different things to catch fish.”
As Glenn enters a pocket he wants to fish, he’ll parallel the bank, casting close to the water’s edge with a small, shallow-running crankbait. Areas where rocks or wood are visible are key and often hold fish because they are a little different. When he gets farther off a point or is fishing an under- water hump, Glenn picks up a DT-10 and goes to work on the same type features.
At one of our first stops, Glenn had thrown a jig-head worm a few times before picking up his deeper-diving bait and flinging it 20 yards out from the end of a small point. As he reeled the bait down and began feeling rocks, Glenn set the hook on a fish.
“Off these points and on top of humps, you’ ll often find rocks,” Glenn said. “I’ll start off fishing across the point one way, and I’ll go all the way around it because you never know when you are going to catch a fish.”
Glenn likes to fish in a little wind, but he says it’s only one factor that makes for good crankbait fishing.
“It is nice to have some wind,” Glenn said. “In deep water or when it’s stained, it doesn’t matter quite so much.”
If the crankbait bite isn’t on, Glenn will slow things down with one of two soft-plastic presentations. He relies largely on a shaky head, a finesse worm threaded onto a lead jig head, or a Carolina rig. While both techniques are admittedly slow, they are also both very effective.
“I’d rather fish fast, but I’ll slow down and sit in a spot for a long time if I’m getting a bite every once in a while,” Glenn said.
Glenn uses a 3/16-oz. jig head with the hook turned inside the worm, weedless style. When he casts the jig- head worm, Glenn lets it sink to the bottom and pulls it along slowly like a Carolina rig, occasionally shaking the rod tip to make the worm, which will stand straight up off the bottom on the jig head, wiggle and entice fish.
On the day we fished, the jig-head worm got bit plenty of times, and Glenn used it to catch several bass.
He will also throw a Carolina rig on long, gently sloping points to catch more lethargic bass. Glenn uses a 3/4- to 1-oz. brass weight with a glass bead. Glenn attaches a leader of about 3 feet. He fishes across the point, down it and across the other side.
“I’ll fish it from every direction, just like with the crankbait,” Glenn said.
On either rig, Glenn is likely to try many different colors, but like with his crankbaits, he has preferences.
“It’s hard to go wrong with green pumpkin,” Glenn said.
The Carolina rig was effective on one point we fished, with the pair of us boating four bass in 15 minutes before the bite slowed.
In November, Glenn will also throw a buzzbait or a Pop-R some- times.
“Topwater is fun, and I do it a lot,” Glenn said. “It doesn’t always work, but if I see fish schooling, I’ll try it.”
Right after daylight on the day Glenn and I fished, we hit a long stretch of rip-rap bank by the railroad trestle. Glenn doesn’t key on rip-rap often, but he says it is a great way to catch bass.
“It’s not the type of water I normally fish, but there are a lot of tournaments won on this bank and the bank back at the Yellowjacket boat ramp,” Glenn said. “You can throw spinner- baits, crankbaits or buzzbaits on chunk rock in November and do pretty well.”
If you fish West Point frequently, this month should be a great time to spend a few hours in the boat. If you haven’t been in a while, the extremely low-water conditions should give you plenty of opportunity to explore the lake. Features that are normally well underwater are visible, and you might just see something that could lead to some fantastic bass fishing when water levels return to normal.
“Now’s a great time to see things because the water is so far down you’ll find cover you didn’t know was there,” Glenn said.
The point is, whether you like to shake a worm in rockpiles, drag a Carolina rig along points, catch fish on top or work crankbaits through cover, there are plenty of ways to catch bass on West Point this month. Find a time to get on the water. And if you want to have a blast, tie on a shallow-running crankbait and a medium diver, hit shal- low brush and work over points and humps with rock on them.
Who knows? You might just learn something new and catch plenty of fish doing it.