Fall is here. We’re experiencing cooling weather patterns all over the country, and the bass are changing their patterns to adapt to the changing weather.
This is one of my favorite times of the year to be on the water … or in a deer stand … or just enjoying the cool weather with my family. It’s simply one of my favorite times of the year. There’s a lot to do, and bass fishing is one of them. The fish are more active than they were for much of the summer, they’re feeding heavily as winter approaches, and there are few other anglers on the water, so you might have the water all to yourself.
It’s hard to say just what triggers the fall transition in bass fishing, but it doesn’t necessarily happen on September 23 when the calendar says that autumn has begun. It could come earlier or later than that.
One trigger — and I tend to believe it’s the most significant trigger — is that the days are getting shorter. Another is that temperatures — including water temperatures — are falling. Falling water temperatures will break up the thermocline that developed in the summer.
No thermocline means that the lakes and reservoirs are no longer layered with water that has oxygen or doesn’t have oxygen. Now the entire lake is available to the bass, top to bottom, but water quality can vary widely, and bass will be looking for good water quality with plenty of oxygen.
Bass now having the entire lake to roam may be nice for them, but it’s tough on anglers. Fish can be very shallow, very deep or anywhere in between. Chances are, they’ll be in all those places, and it presents some really challenging fishing. To make things even tougher, they won’t be as grouped up as they were for much of the summer. They’ll be more scattered.
So why is fall one of my favorite times to go bass fishing when things are so challenging? Well, one pattern I have a lot of confidence in at this time of year is also a lot of fun.
In fall, I like to fish ultra-shallow with topwaters, wake baits, jerkbaits, and spinnerbaits. I get to cover water really fast in an effort to get a lot of bites. I’ll be looking for shad and targeting bays, pockets and points with the wind blowing into them.
A lot of people will tell you to run to the backs of creeks in fall, but you don’t have to do that. I find just as many bass in pockets without current and on points that have some wind on them.
These fish are following or waiting on baitfish, and they’re using the shallow water in bays, pockets and over the tops of flat points to trap and eat them.
My favorite baits for this pattern are walking topwaters like the Berkley J-Walker (bone), buzzbaits (white), wake baits like the Berkley WakeBull (Sexy Back), jerkbaits like the Berkley Juke (Sexy Back), and a 1/2-ounce double willow leaf spinnerbait (chartreuse and white).
If there’s enough water to cover the back of a bass, there’s enough water to fish at this time of year. Be on the lookout for shad or other baitfish and get out there and chunk and wind in the shallows.
As far as your retrieve is concerned, let the bass tell you what they want, but as a general rule, I fish faster when the water’s clear and slower if it’s dingy or dirty.
I made a video about this style of fishing that shows just how exciting it can be. If you watch it, I bet you’ll be itching to get out on the water with me!