Well folks, it’s that time of year again. It may also be the best time of year, because right now through mid December is going to be some of the best fishing.
Where to Find Bass
Bass behavior becomes erratic this time of year. Initially when the water turns over, they may even drop to deeper depths than they had been all summer. There is one constant about fall fishing though, the bass are always moving. If they are located in one spot today, a couple of days from now they will be gone and you will have to find them again. Eventually the bass will migrate to the backs of creeks and pockets, but that takes a little time. It doesn’t happen overnight. Thats why folks say to break a creek located off the main down into thirds. The first third is nearest the main lake. You need to target this area in early fall. By October, or November, you can probably start your day by fishing the second third of the creek, and by late in the month and early December make sure you target the very backs of the creeks. The structure will often the same. Find the secondary points, humps, channel swings, fallen timber, and anyplace the bass can either stage or corral baitfish for an easy meal.
Because fall fishing is about moving with the bass migration, you need to make sure you have these four lures tied on between September and December.
Crankbaits are perfect for covering lots of water, whether you’re fishing deep or up shallow. Since the bass are on the move you’ll need something to search for them. During late summer and the early fall we are still going to be throwing relatively deeper diving crankbaits such as a Strike King 5 or 6xd. As the fall progresses and those water temperatures continue to drop we will begin to downsize the size and running depth of our plugs. For instance, usually by late October through mid-November we will have a 3xd or Rapala DT 6 tied on our rods. Eventually when the bass get right on the bank and in the backs of the creeks, our crankbait of choice is going to be a squarebill. They are excellent choices when targeting any fish from the bank out to a depth of four or five feet.
When fishing crankbaits in the fall, work them as fast and as erratic as possible. Dig them into rocks, crash them off timber, rip them through grass. You need to create a commotion to draw those fish in. As soon as your crankbait deflects off a piece of cover the bass are going to smash it.
Of course, here at OneCast Fishing, this is our specialty. However, jigs are the big bass bait and you still have to have one tied on this time of year. They will help you land that larger than average size fish, which is something everyone wants to catch. Early to mid fall we love throwing a football jig, especially around rock and hard bottoms when the fish are oriented right near the bottom structure. During this time, I will still choose a trailer that has a lot of kick and flair such as the Rage Bg with all the appendixes. That active action is going to attract bass. Remember, the water is still reality warm and an active trailer still appears life like. As the fall progresses and water temperatures drop we are going to transition to a jig trailer that is a little more subtle. For instance, a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver is a little more subtle with fewer and thicker appendixes and that is going to imitate the slight slow down of cold blooded prey. By winter, we will move on to a pork chunk or another trailer that has little or no movement in the water.
3. Bladed Jigs / Spinnerbaits
Today, we are going to combine these two into one lure discussion. So really you all are getting five lures to use during the fall. The reason we lump the two together is because vibrating jigs and spinnerbaits are some of the most used and efficient lures during the fall. They are excellent imitators of baitfish, put off a tremendous amount of vibration, and are very versatile. They can be fished extremely fast right below the surface or slow rolled along the bottom.
When we can get away with it we prefer to use a bladed jig. Thats only because we feel like they catch bigger fish. However, we still have to opt for a spinnerbait when fishing lakes that still have plenty of grass. Spinnerbaits will come through the vegetation much better than a bladed jig.
One thing about fishing spinnerbaits in the fall though, you need to be using willow leaf blades. The rest of the year Colorado blades work great. You can fish these slower and deeper. However, this time of year you need to be fishing fast and covering water. The willow leaf blade enables this and reeling it fast helps imitate a group of fleeing shad or bluegill.
Whether you decide to tie on the bladed jig or spinnerbait, be prepared to cover a lot water and fish fast. Make sure you run it into cover so it deflects. Much like the crankbait this rapid course alteration is going to cause that reaction strike.
The perfect bladed jig for those bass feeding on fall Bluegill.
I don’t think this one is a surprise to anyone. You are going to get some of your biggest topwater explosions this time of year. As the fall progresses the bass become more aggressive and are eager to attack your topwater bait. I learned this first hand two years ago at a local club tournament. To date it was my best 5 fish limit during a tournament. I had 10 bites all day and they all came on a KVD Splash. Two of bass missed the lure. One wasn’t a keeper, and I culled the other two. The 5 fish I brought to weigh-in weighed 21.83 pounds. Needless to say, topwater plugs works during fall.
Due to that success, we may be partial to the popper style of topwater lures. They work great when thrown against steep banks with overhanding cover or lay downs. When you cast them out, let them sit until the rings disappear then begin working it back to you in a steady cadence. Pop-Pop-rest-Pop-rest. Something about that retrieve brings the big bass to the surface.
Now some days the bass may not want a popping style bait, they may be chasing shad in open water, or they may be scattered and cruising looking for an opportune meal. In those situations throw a walking style bait such as the Zara Spook. These lures cast a mile and you can work them slow with a wide swing, or you can work them extremely fast. Because you can work them faster than a popper you can cover a lot more water with them.
Other excellent topwater choices during the fall are a buzzbait and a Whopper Plopper. The whine of these lures attract the bass from a long ways away. Smallmouth or spots will even come out of 30 feet of water to blow up on them. These also work great in lakes where the water is being drawn down for winter. In those situation the bass will often target crawfish as they seek to scurry back down to the rock still left in the water. The bass will sit very shallow and wait to ambush the crawfish, or your topwater as it comes on by.
Fall fishing is some of the best fishing you’re going to have all year. It is right up there with the spawn. All the bass are active and they know they have to feed for the winter. Get out on the water and no matter what make sure you have tied on at least one: crankbait, jig, spinnerbait/bladed jig, and topwater.