Tips To Help Anyone Catch Big Fall Bass
Fall is an excellent time of year for bass fishing.
Fall is the time of year I look forward to every year. It’s when I catch my largest numbers of quality bass. The bass will get aggressive this time of year, they start moving in from their deep water hiding spots and get into feeding mode as they get ready for winter.
In this post, I’m going to share some of the techniques, rigs, and bass fishing tips for fall that I use to consistently catch bass. These tips have worked for me in the different regions I have fished. The techniques that I use haven’t changed much from region to region but there some subtle difference to the baits I use and their presentations. In the end, you should have a much better understanding of where to start and understand how to find the bass and what to use to catch them.
Finding Bass In The Fall
Find the bait fish and you’ll find the bass.
Bass will get themselves ready for winter by gorging on bait fish. Early in the fall, you can still catch them on finesse baits like worms but you’ll find that lures that imitate bait fish will produce larger numbers of quality bass during the fall season. Swim baits can be very lucrative in the back of creeks.
Shad and other forage will start to move to predictable places starting in September which is usually in the back of creeks off the main lake. This usually happens when the water temperatures start to drop and the days start to get noticeably shorter. This time of year you will find the bass waiting in ambush in the migration routes that the bait fish are using.
The migration routes will normally follow the creek channels as these are like little roads or highways for the fish. Find these channels using a fishfinder/sonar or a detailed bottom map of your lake. Look for the bigger fish along these channels in about 10′ to 15′ of water in the early fall and they will move shallower and further up in the creeks as the season progresses.
Early fall the bigger bass will still be in deeper water, I normally find them in about 10 to 15 feet of water but this can change from day to day. I like to start fishing around the points on each side of the creeks off the main lake. Not much different than the pattern for early spring just before the spawn. These points at the entrance of the creeks are always good staging areas for bass and great starting points for fishing in the early fall.
Mid to late fall look for the big bass to move up into the back of the creeks chasing those shad. Follow the creek channel up into the creek to what I call the “reverse point” This is the deeper water that goes up into the back of the creek. During late fall start in the back and work your back out of the creek, just the opposite of early fall where you want to start at the mouth and work your way back.
Time of Day Matters
Start shallow early in the day, at or before first light. Starting your day off early when in it’s still dark is generally a good time to catch big bass anytime of the year. There are many anglers that exclusively target large mouth bass at night because they discovered that big bass feed mostly during hours of darkness except during the spawn.
From late summer to early fall, my personal rule of thumb is this; as the sun gets higher I move further from the bank.
Early fall can be a bit tricky because sometimes I find they never move shallow and they stay deep – 10′ to 15′ of water. A primary reason fish will stay deep during the late summer through early fall is that the water temperature fluctuates less at that depth – not too hot and not too cold and no drastic changes. In this regard, fish are not much different than humans, we all like to hang out in a comfortable environment. Shallow water can fluctuate vastly during the fall months and fish seem to shy away from big changes like that. Additionally, bass in the northern regions seem less sensitive to bigger changes in temperatures than fish in the southern states – depending on where you are, this is something to keep in mind.
Mid to late fall you can always count on the bass to start moving into the backs of the creek. A good sign to look for is birds. If you see a herring standing in shallow water in the back of a creek, fish that creek.
In the southern states, you can still catch them as fall transitions into early winter as the bass move back out into deeper water. When that happens you’ll want to fish slow jigs and worms along the bottom but I’ll get deeper into catching cold water bass in another post.
Another fact to consider, as the cooler temperatures start to creep deeper into the water column, you’ll find that bass will linger around rocky banks or riprap areas longer or come up shallow along rocks as the sun comes up. This is because the rocks warm up fast from the sun and hold heat and fish will get in real close on the rocks to absorb that heat. In these instances, you’ll find that running a square bill crankbait like a KVD 1.5 or working a weightless Zoom Super Fluke across shallow rock will consistently catch bass in these conditions. If it’s overcast this will not be as productive as bright sunny days. You’ll likely find the bigger bass still hanging out their deeper hangouts.
Rigs, Lures, and Techniques for Catching Fall Bass
I have hinted to some of the baits I like to use during the fall. I strictly use only a handful of different kinds of baits and approaches during this time of year. Based on my experience fishing for bass in the fall, where you fish is often more important than what you fish. This means that once you have located the fish, most lures and techniques will get them to bite. Again, this is because the fall is great time year to easily find feeding bass.
Early on a bright sunny day, I would use either a square bill crankbait like a KVD 1.5 in either the chartreuse and black back pattern or a shad pattern that matches the lake’s forage. The other bait I have a lot of success with is the Zoom Super Fluke. I fish this weightless on a 4/0 wide gap worm hook.
If your lake doesn’t have any riprap, then I would use the fluke weightless. Fishing it shallow and near grass lines. Working with slight twitches and pauses. Mainly work the fluke with your pole and use the reel to pull in the line slack. If it’s a windy day, spinning gear works great with the fluke.
When fishing the square bill or any crankbait for that matter, I like to use a 7′ medium heavy rod with 50lbs braid. This is my setup because I hate losing crankbaits because they are not cheap. Usually, when I use 50lbs braid I always get my lure back. My exact setup is a Shimano Curado 200G spooled with 50-pound braid on a 7′ medium heavy All-Star rod.
My setup for the Zoom Fluke is a Daiwa Tatula spooled with 15lbs Berkley Big Game Mono on a 7′ medium heavy St. Croix Bass Mojo rod. Power Tip: to get good action out of your fluke, use a non-slip loop knot. This allows the bait to move more freely when twitching your rod. This is a very light rod with great sensitivity and I can feel what the bait is doing. It’s important to be able to feel what the bait is doing. You may find that you will need to move to a lighter power rod to be able to feel the bait. I have an old Wally Marshal IM6 graphite spinning reel/rod combo for crappie that I got from Bass Pro a long time ago. This setup works really good for weightless plastics and drop-shotting. Especially on windy days.
Mid to late fall when you find the bass moving into the back of the creeks you’ll want to fish lipless crankbaits and spinner baits. Lures like the Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap are an excellent choice for this time of year. I like using the chrome with a blue or black back. I fish this on my cranking rod I detailed before and with a steady retrieve. Vary your retrieve speed until you find what the bass like.
A white spinner bait is also an excellent choice. I’ll use spinner baits over and around submerged grass which doesn’t allow me to use a lipless crankbait. I prefer a white or chartreuse spinner bait and always start with white. You can fish a spinner bait on the same setup as the fluke setup I described earlier. Use the same presentation as the Rat-L-Trap and vary your speed based on what the fish are telling you. Keep in mind, the speed of your retrieve may be dependent on keeping the lure up and over any submerged grass.
If you are not getting any hits within 30 minutes of working that creek then move. This is the time of year that when you are not catching anything then you are likely fishing where there’s no fish. Also, as the water temperature cools you’ll want to slow your presentation a bit. When the water temperatures start hitting mid to low 50’s it’s time to slow it down a bit if you are not getting any bites.
Fall fishing can be fun and sometimes challenging. If you stick with the lures and presentation outlined above and use the tips in this post – you WILL catch more bass during the fall. The fall is the one time of year where it is more about finding the fish than trying to figure out what they are hitting.