It’s fall and I have to admit that a lot of my attention has turned to the woods and hunting. Still, it’s a great time to be on the water bass fishing. I spend a good bit of time each fall on the water when we wrap up our season, and while it can be great fishing, it’s also a little tricky.
This time of year is feast or famine in my experience. I’ve seen it this year already here in Kentucky and at the General Tire Team Series that I fished in West Virginia last month. The bass have been feeding everywhere I look, and I’ve seen plenty of activity, but getting them to bite can be another story. This is typical of fishing right now. Anyone who’s been on the water lately can probably relate.
One of the biggest challenges with fall fishing is that baitfish are everywhere, and they’re often very small. There are a few things I do to overcome these problems and it works for me every year.
Everyone knows bass really get keyed in on shad each fall – and they seem to be everywhere. This is something that will happen for the next few weeks or longer, depending on where you live, and will run until the water temperatures start to drop and the bass start to focus more on crawfish.
With so many shad, it sometimes becomes hard to fool a bass with a lure when there’s so much of the real thing swimming around. My best way to overcome this isn’t some secret. It’s become a cliché in bass fishing, but the importance of covering water quickly can’t be overstated.
During the fall months, my trolling motor is maxed out. I’m moving down the bank at incredible speeds because I know I need to put the odds in my favor. I often see other anglers slowly picking apart an area. At other times of the year, that can be a great idea, but right now, you want to move at breakneck speeds. I want to get my bait in front of as many fish as possible to get a few of them to bite. It may take a little longer than in other seasons to trick one, so I prepare mentally for that and make as many casts as possible in a day.
The other issue this time of year is the size of the baitfish. In the fall, the shad are usually tiny everywhere you go. At the Team Series event in West Virginia, they were about the size of my thumbnail. I didn’t have any baits even close to that size with me (most bass fishermen wouldn’t), but the only thing you can do is try to get a better match.
One of my favorite baits this time of year is the ARK Z-series, and I’ll use the smallest one they make: a 53mm size that weighs 3/8 ounce. The rest of the year, I go with a bigger size because, most of the time, you want to make your bait look like a bigger meal for the biggest fish. It’s an interesting mindset switch, and that’s a good summary of what it takes to do well in the fall. You have to look at things differently to consistently catch bass this time of year.