Topwater, jerkbaits and crankbaits take center stage in the fall for MLF pro Brent Ehrler.

I recently fished my final MLF Cup event of the season – the Summit Cup in late October – and thought it was a good way to end my competitive year. Although the 2019 MLF season has ended, my bass fishing hasn’t.

Fall is a great time to find large numbers of quality fish in your local lakes. Of course, it all depends on where you live, but fishing can be excellent from now clear into the winter.

Schools of shad are the key to finding bass now. During the summer, you can often find large shad schools on the main lake areas offshore, and there are plenty of shad throughout most systems where they live, but this time of year, the larger concentrations of shad tend to be near transition areas on most lakes. 

What I mean by “transition areas” are structure and cover spots, like secondary points heading into bays and coves, bluff ends, and banks that go from deep to shallow. Essentially, these areas are around the same spots you’ll find bass as they head to the shallows in the spring; areas that have both shallow and adjacent deeper cover. Those are the transition areas I like, but there is one more thing they need for me to want to fish them: rocks. Whether it’s manmade rip-rap or natural, the big cover key for me on the transition areas is rocks.

My Fall Top 3

Put away your jigs and worms and pick up the three baits I use in the fall: a topwater (earlier in parts of the country where it’s warmer), a jerkbait, and a squarebill crankbait.

My topwater of choice is the Lucky Craft Sammy 105 in the Aurora Bone color. It’s not a large or small bait, it’s a “tweener.” Bass eating big or small forage will bite that bait if they’re feeding on top. It has a one-knocker weight and is neutrally balanced, so it sits level in the water. You can work it real slow, and if fish are feeding on top, they’ll destroy it, especially after cold nights or cold fronts.

The jerkbait I use is the Lucky Craft Flash Pointer in the Chartreuse Shad color. I’ll fish it around steeper rock cover. It can be a year-round lure on that type of cover, but in the fall, it’s terrific.

My crankbait choice is a squarebill, either a Lucky Craft 1.5 or the BDS 3 if I want a bigger profile. I fish the crankbaits along the shallower rock cover. Like the jerkbait, it can work throughout the year. Pearl Threadfin Shad is my go-to color for the squarebill.

I want to cover a lot of water, and the jerkbait and crankbait are my primary choices for that. The topwater is great, but in many areas of the country, the bass are no longer on the topwater as fall progresses. I’ve caught fish on a crankbait or jerkbait in the fall and saw a load of bass coming up with it. You’ve got to fish a lot of area and you’ll eventually run into them.

Fall is also a great time for some big fish, along with numbers. I can often get on a pattern now and repeat it all over the lake. Of course, sometimes at some lakes it’s just a general area that holds bass, but once you’re on them, some of the big fish feeding up for winter and spawn in the spring are definitely available. 

My Fall Gear List

I have specific gear I use for these techniques as well.

For the topwater and jerkbait, I use a 6-foot-9 Daiwa Tatula Feider Elite rod. For the BDS 3 crankbait, I use a 7-4 medium heavy Tatula Elite glass rod that I designed for use with bladed jigs and big crankbaits. For the 1.5 crankbait, I use a 7-2 medium action Tatula Elite glass rod that I designed specifically for use with that crankbait. 

As far as reels go, I use the Tatula Elite with all of them. It’s a performance reel designed for long casting. The longer casts allow you to cover more water and keep your bait in the strike zone longer.