Fall bass fishing can either be bountiful or leave an angler empty-handed.
Some days, the bite is tricky, and some days, anglers can yield huge numbers in regards to quality and quantity both. One of the toughest aspects of bass fishing is that the fish keeps changing their behavior by the minute.
Most people catch plenty of bass fish one day while getting nothing the next; this does not happen by accident.
Anglers need to understand fishing conditions and their impact. In this article, we will discuss everything one needs to know about fall bass fishing.
Bass Behavior in Fall
First and foremost, you need to understand the basic behavior of bass.
Bass is a warm water species; be it spring, fall, or winter, the fish is going to be hunting for warm water.
However, bass hunts for cool water in summers because when the water gets hot, it does not carry enough oxygen for the fish to survive.
This is why most anglers prefer fall and spring seasons the most when it comes to bass fishing because they come up searching for warmer waters, making catching them easy.
In the autumn season, the water cools down, and the fall rains wash nutrients of the summertime growth into the water, and the nutrients attract thousands of plankton.
In search of food, shad migrate towards the area filled with plankton.
How Spawning Impacts Fall Fishing
Bass goes through a spawn preparation period during the early spring. Bass grow through the post-spawn period, usually after summers and before the beginning of winter.
During the fall season, bass want to fatten up to survive the cold temperatures, and they will be looking for quick meals.
What Do Bass Eat in Fall?
Where there is shad, there is bass, and this beautiful circle of life signals anglers where to direct their efforts.
Bass feed on shad as aggressively as possible they devour anything that remotely resembles a shad.
This time of the year, there are unlimited bait choices because bass will eat anything in fall to fatten up for winter. Bass is extremely fond of forage when it starts to die off.
Most shad species cannot sustain in waters below the 40s, and they end up as feed for the fish.
Everywhere you go, you will find some species of brim or bluegill and crayfish, and that is where you will find bass.
That being said, the bass tends to eat anything they can get in their mouth, from birds and snakes to mice and frogs.
Bass are predatory creatures, and they will take a shot at anything that moves and looks appetizing to them.
Where Are They Hiding In Fall?
As mentioned above, bass will be wherever the food is.
So the first thing to do to find the bait is to take note of the wind direction. The wind will be pushing the water with planktons towards the banks and pockets. This will eventually bring the bass to those areas.
You will find bass on long tapering points with deep-water access.
Shallow structures and boat docks are great places to find bass during the fall season bass that feed on baitfish in the river channel, bars, and ledges.
Most bass are also found at the deep end of the creeks and channel edges, as well as steeper shorelines, vertical drop-offs, and green weeds.
Shallow main-lake humps, points, and shallow coves will become active with feeding bass. These areas are swimming with every kind of fish during the fall.
Mid-depth fishing can be very good because many bass prefer to feed at a depth between 10 to 20 feet, the reason being the excessive number of shads swimming at these depths.
Small tail-spinners, jig, spoons, and grub combs will work great at these depths.
Although bass can be found in deep waters, most of the time, they feed at the depths above 20 feet until the end of fall.
During the end of fall, the water reaches 60 degrees, and the bass follow the shad to deeper water. If the water temperature changes during this period and becomes colder, the shallow-water activity may cease for a while.
Fish Gear For Fall
Fall bass fishing allows all the anglers to catch dozens, sometimes hundreds of bass. All you need to know is the right type of gear to use to attract so many bass in a single fishing session.
Lures and Baits
Most bass are going to be in the shallow waters during early fall. Therefore, target the 3 to 6-foot range primarily and focus on creek channels.
Clarity is crucial for fishing bass, so if the water is stained, target the 1- 3-foot range.
In dirty or muddy waters, bass will hold close to laydowns, whereas, in moderately clear water, there is more success in targeting 4 to 6-foot range.
Another point to remember is that during this season, the fish are moving in groups, so it is important to move quickly.
Crankbaits are great, and you will be able to catch hundreds of bass in the fall. When fishing, keep changing your patterns, for instance, keep switching between flat-sided crankbaits and wide wobbling gestures for the best results.
If you are dealing with schooling fish, then a jerk bait is the way to go.
These lures are extremely overlooked for fishing schools of bass, especially during the fall. These lures are effective, and their aggressive slashing reaction attracts the bass.
In low light conditions, stick to a matte shad pattern.
When it is sunny, use a chrome-colored jerkbait so the bass can spot it from a long distance.
If you are using a jerkbait wind is your friend, focus on the shallow windblown gravel bars and the bass will show themselves pretty quickly.
If you want to catch a giant fall bass, swimbaits are an excellent way to catch it.
Your swimbait should have two primary functions.
First, you want the tail to produce a thump in the water.
Second, you need the body to produce fiction in water by moving side-to-side.
In a school of bass, there will be 1-pounder bass that are going to be on the top, and the 4-pound ones will be underneath them.
Using a swimbait will give you excess to those 4 pounders, you will not get as many bites, but you will surely get the big ones. Head size is essential when fishing with swimbait and mostly determined by the condition of water you’re fishing in.
For a shallow cover, a 1/8-ounce head is used, ½-ounce for a deeper structure, and, for a mid-depth cover, ¼-ounce is used.
Walking topwater baits attract bigger bass in the fall season.
These topwater baits activate the bass’s predatory instincts. They think something big is trying to get away, so they immediately attack it. In order to catch more bass, reel in your lure when it is halfway to the boat.
It is impossible to talk about fall bass fishing without mentioning lipless crankbaits.
These crankbaits are effective without much work, and even novice anglers can catch dozens of bass without much struggle. Covering the water with lipless baits is perfect for catching bass. You do not need to worry too much about the color selection too much.
Stick to a white-and-grey or a chrome-and-black combination, and you will catch plenty of fish. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are all attracted to it.
When using the lipless crankbait, don’t just cast the bait and wind it straight away; give it a few aggressive pops with the rod tip. This drives the bass absolutely crazy, and you will have your catch in no time.
Best Rods and Line Combination for Fall Bass Fishing
Below are the characteristics of the type of rods and the line you should use when fishing for bass in the fall.
Power: Medium-Heavy to Heavy
Action: Fast to Extra-fast
Line: 14-20 lb Fluorocarbon or 40-65 lb Braid
Lures: Buzzbaits, jigs, worms, bladed jigs
Power: Medium to Medium-Heavy
Action: Fast to Extra-Fast
Line: 12-20 lb Monofilament, Fluorocarbon, or Braid.
Lures: Spinnerbaits, Jerkbaits, Lipless Crankbaits, Blade Baits
Line: 10- 14 lb Monofilament
Lures: Poppers, Walkers, Prop Baits, Wakebaits
Line: 10 – 14 lb Monofilament
Lures: Soft plastics, Finesse Jigs, Poppers, Jerkbaits, Crankbaits, Walkers, Tubes, Spinnerbaits
Line: 8-12 lb Fluorocarbon
Tips and Techniques for Bass Fishing in Fall
The transition from summer to autumn is a cause for many anglers’ frustration because, during this time, the bass abruptly changes their behavior. It is due to the change in water temperature, weather, water clarity, food availability, and other factors.
It is crucial to learn the pattern of bass under different conditions, and experience is your best teacher.
Find the Bait Fish
A successful fall bass fishing is within your grasp if you remember a simple saying ‘Find the bait, you’ll find the bass.’ In lakes, if you see shad or another schooling of baits, you would surely find the bass nearby. However, it is easier said than done. Focus on your fishing areas and search for schools of shad. Learning the signature a school baitfish makes on your fish-finder will be a great help.
Near dusk and dawn in early autumn, bass rove in groups to feed on baitfish near the surface, and these schools of fish are often found near creek mouths, islands, humps, or shallow bays. Watch the waters closely, upon spotting a school move within casting distance. Be sure to move slowly as you get closer to avoid scaring the fish.
Prop On Top
When the water has a glassy surface, it is hard to spot any baitfish. You can move towards grassy areas but using prop bait. Do not overwork the bait, an occasional twitch or a steady retrieve will suffice.
Spooks at Sunset
Another tactic that works well in fall is catching fish as the sun goes down. Bass seem to feed ravenously if the air and water are still warm, especially in small lakes. A topwater stick bait will prove irresistible to many large bass.
Wiggle a Jerkbait
Hard-plastic jerkbaits greatly entice the bass during sunny, early-autumn afternoons. Cast your lure where the bass cover is located. Let it sit, wiggle, and flash the jerkbait. Pause and then wiggle again. There will come a time when hunger overcomes hesitation, and you will have your catch of the day.
Buoyant Crankbaits in Weedbeds
Fall bass feed around submerged beds of coontail, elodea, or other aquatic vegetation. One great tip would be to work a buoyant crankbait across the top of the weedbed. Focus on the normal vibration of the lure during the retrieve, and once you feel the change in vibration, stop the retrieve and allow the bait to rise. Bites usually take place when the crankbait is rising above the weed beds.
Bass fishing can be difficult during the transition period. However, trying some of the tips and techniques mentioned above will allow you the opportunity to connect with your fair share of spotless bass, smallmouths, and largemouths.
The big picture is that fish need to feed, so don’t be afraid to layer up and get out on the water to chase some early autumn bass.