Fall Fishing Strategies
In the south and middle part of the country, the air temperatures are starting to drop with the beginning of fall and the bass are changing. In many of our beloved bass lakes, the late summer timeframe can be one of the toughest times of the year to catch fish. As the water temps start to cool off with those cooler nights, you better get ready to hook the boat back up to head to the lake.
The exact temperatures of this transition vary on where you live. The easiest way to know when this begins is when you walk outside in the morning and notice a t-shirt is just not going to cut it in keeping you warm. The transition occurs sometime between mid-September and the end of October. On the water, you will notice more and more baitfish up near the surface and especially towards the backs of the pockets and creeks. The final thing you will see is bass busting and even schooling on baitfish or shad up shallow.
I see fish busting. “Grab a topwater!” Well, not so fast…
Yes, the fall is a great time to catch a bass on topwater. Buzzbaits, spooks, poppers, and Whopper Ploppers are all prone to produce now. Why not just throw those? I would argue that a few other baits may produce better.
Cranks catch em.
The fall transition is an awesome time to catch bass on crankbaits. You can arm yourself with a flat side, shallow squarebill, and a lipless to do some real damage this time of year around that bait in the backs of the creeks and pockets. My choices are a SPRO Little John, SPRO Baby Fat John, and SPRO Aruku Shad 60 (3/8 oz). Choose a color that has some flash or is bright. This helps the crankbait stand out from the other baitfish or shad in the area. I am telling you, my color choice was off for years.
As I mentioned, look for the areas in the backs of the creeks and pockets where there are a bunch of visible shad or baitfish. These fish often feed on flats but not just any flats. They like the flats that are close to deep water so they can slide up and feed before retreating back to the safer, deep water. Sometimes big flat areas with no deep water and bait can be overlooked if there is not an easy way to access them. Those areas can produce too but they are not as likely to replenish as the flats close to deep water.
Don’t overlook the finesse swim bait!
The vibration and flash of the cranks are very productive for those flat feeding bass but too much pressure can make them a little skittish. Swim baits are another great sub surface option for catching these bass but the bigger baits are not always the most productive. I like a 3-4” swim bait on a jig head on a spinning rod with lighter line. I will pick up my 7’1” Cashion Micro Jig rod and put an 8-pound Sunline Sniper FC leader on. The swim bait that has produced tons of these bass for me is the Missile Baits Shockwave 3.5 on a Gamakatsu Round 26 jig head in 3/16 ounce size. Depending on the water color, I really like the Frosted Purple or Bombshell colors. Long casts with this setup on those baitfish flats is a good way to get bit. A steady retrieve can produce but don’t forget to try the start/stop or just kill it so sinks to the bottom.
Transition bass can be tricky since they have been beat on all year. The cooler weather triggers the bait to move up shallower and the bass are not far behind. Grab some cranks and finesse swim baits the next time you hit the lake during this time. The cooler temps are heating up the fishing.