Fall Transition Tactics for Bass
The second wave of great bass fishing for the year is upon us. The leaves are turning and the air is getting crisp, hunting seasons is opening and the bass are biting again. Bass feed heavy in the Fall preparing for the lean winter months that lay ahead. Fall fishing can be very similar to spring fishing with a couple of twists. My intention here is to share with you some of the techniques and patterns that help me put fish in the boat during this time of the year. It doesn't always mean that there will be a hungry bass next to every log, under every boat house, hiding in every weed bed or suspended off every creek channel point. But under normal circumstances it does mean...Bass will almost always use the same migration routes that they used in the spring. If you think about that for a moment it will give you some real insight where you can begin your search for Fall Transition Bass.
I start my search in creeks and pockets in the upper region of the lake that has a lot of cover and where fresh water runs into the creek. This is an important fact that many anglers either overlook or don't understand completely. Keep in mind "Spawn" and "Fall Transition" bass patterns will always appear nearer where the river comes in verses areas nearer the dam. The larger the body of water the truer this fact becomes. I prefer creeks that have plenty of cover such as lay downs, stump rows, chunk rock, sunken brush around boat docks and when possible grass and other aquatic weeds. The ideal creek would be one where this structure is close to the dominate channel. The other factor to be on the watch for is schools of shad or other bait fish. A good shad population is a vital link in being successful. The Fall transition means only one thing to bass; it’s time to eat and get fat for the winter ahead and the primary source of food in most reservoirs is shad.
Around rip-rap, bridges or points in the fall its crank baits and spinner baits. My favorite cranks for covering deep water are SPRO Little John Series 70 which dives to 16-20 foot, Series 70 that dives to 9-12 feet and the Series 50 which dives to 6-9 Foot. My go to colors are Chartreuse Nasty, Chartreuse Blue, Cell Mate, Nasty Shad and Home Boy. Color select really depends upon water clarity and sunlight penetration. As for spinner baits, a Punisher or Assassinator ½ ounce double willow leaf in a white or chartreuse works great worked along grass or lay downs. When employing any crank baits it is imperative to have the proper rod and reel set up. For crank baits, I use Duckett White Ice Cranking Rod; 7'11" Medium Heavy action with a 5.4-1 LEW’s reel and for spinner baits I use 6’9” or 7’0” Medium Heavy Action Micro Magic armed with a 6.4-1 LEW’s reel, both set ups with 8 to 12 pound test Vicious Ultimate or Pro Elite fluorocarbon.
If the bite slows, a football head jig is the go to set up. I prefer a ½ ounce Tightline football head matched to a Missile Baits Twin Turbo Tail or D-Bomb when they want a bulked up profile. Another excellent go to tactic is a Texas Rigged plastic such a 8.75 inch Tomahawk Worm or Creature Bait like the D-Bomb. Both of these plastics will move lots of water during a slow presentation. My Texas Rig is made up of a 3/8 ounce tungsten weight followed by a bead and 4/0 Hook. I recommend a 7' to 7'6" Heavy Action Micro Magic or White Ice rod from Duckett Fishing paired with a LEW’s 7:1 reel with either Vicious Ultimate or Pro Elite fluorocarbon in 15 to 17 pound test.
Grass/scum mats call for a hollow-bodied frog from SPRO. As for colors, I like to keep it simple by using Blacks/Red, Black/Blue or Black/Yellow. Arm yourself to the teeth…7’0” to 7’6” Heavy or Extra Heavy rod with a fast reel like a LEW’s 7.1:1 with nothing less than 50 pound test Vicious Braid!
I can't emphasis enough the importance of staying in the creeks and on the bait fish during the Fall transition period. Your chances of loading the boat or having a very few strikes almost always hinges on the presence of shad in the areas your fishing. As Fall begins to give way to early winter and the water temperatures lowers even more I begin to work my way back out further and further toward the mouth of the creeks until the water temperatures reach 50 degrees then it's winter fishing time and everything changes again. Let’s Go Fish’in…Capt Jake Davis
Capt Jake Davis is a USCG Licensed professional fishing guide on Lake Guntersville, Tims Ford Lake and Nickajack Lake; to reserve your “Day on the Lake” visit www.midsouthbassguide.com or call/email 615-613-2382, firstname.lastname@example.org