Bass fishing is popular with many anglers, but when fall comes, many anglers spend countless hours chasing the minimal fish that’s still available in the deep. This feast and famine season is a far cry from summer, when most anglers enjoy predictable fishing. What makes fall bass fishing so hard?
Fall bass fishing is so hard due to bait migration. The fall comes with shorter days and cooler temperatures. Thus, the shad begin amassing on flats and creek mouths, awaiting the winter season. Bass fish follow in their footsteps, leaving anglers in the deep with less than their usual catch.
Keep reading to find out more about this fascinating natural phenomenon and discover how you can still get your catch.
Why Bass Migrate Ashore
Early fall witnesses the massive migration of bass fish to shallow waters. This strange occurrence happens in September and October. Up to 70% of bass vacate offshore waters where they spend most of the summer as they follow bait ashore.
Shorter days and cooler water temperatures characterize the month of September. This season change causes the shad to start accumulating on flats and creek entries in readiness for winter, and the bass follow in their footsteps, ambushing the baitfish as often as they can.
Flats are large areas with shallow water. They warm up first, attracting baitfish; hence the bass swim ashore to feed here. Bass feed on shad incessantly as they work to fill up before winter rolls in.
Why Bass Migration Makes Fishing Tough
Bass migration makes fishing tough for the majority of anglers due to several reasons. Let’s have a look at some of them.
- The fish are in transit: A feast or famine season occurs whenever most of the bass in a given lake transition. This makes it challenging for most anglers. Sometimes, the bite becomes complicated and difficult, while other times, it yields lots of bass. Temperatures are changing, so the fish keep moving, unlike during spring or summer.
- Increased competition: In September, lots of places get lots of bait. As a result, the fish cram themselves fully. Competing with real shad makes fishing pretty hard for anglers.
- High pressure from anglers in the shallows: Everybody knows there’s bass in the shallows. This brings in lots of anglers, all competing for the same bass, making the fish doubly hard to catch.
As the fall season starts, you need to be on the lookout for these signs as they indicate that you now need to transition to fall techniques:
- Bait starts moving
- Shorter fishing days
- Less fishing pressure
- Dropping air and water temperatures
Where to Look for Fall Bass
The constant change in weather and lake turnover contribute in a big way to the scattered fishing that characterizes the fall transition. Still, you can score with consistency if you go looking for creek bass. Other excellent spots to look for fall bass include the following:
As mentioned before, cooling fall temperatures affect the main lake, too, and baitfish begin migrating to creek channels. En route, they bypass large flats, which bass often hold on to as they wait to intercept the migrating baitfish. The bass hide amongst stumps, boulders, or grass edges.
It’s important to note that flats on low lying reservoir creeks can stretch far, so finding bass could be challenging. To make things easier, look out for subtle features that can hold fish. These include a row of trees, adjacent channel swings, ditches, or small creeks entering the flat.
The best flats baits to use here are lipless cranks and spinnerbaits because they enable you to quickly cover the water.
Marinas boast deep water, lots of covers, and a vertical structure, making them excellent baitfish locations to assemble as they start leaving the main channel. You should look for marinas that lie close to main lake points or those found in major creeks.
Bass hold on channel swings, too. This is particularly in late fall when most of the baitfish are in the creeks. The bass hold on to any irregular object on the channel, including rocks, stumps, or a brush pile. A key bass fishing spot in the creek is where the channel flaps against the bank. The best baits here are jerk bait or swimbait.
How to Catch Fall Bass in the Deep
As much as most bass head to the shallows, a small percentage (up to 30%) remains in the deep waters. This is probably because they want to avoid competition. The thing is, if you can locate these fish, you get the remarkable opportunity of not only catching bass but landing the big ones, too.
Better yet, they are also pretty easy to catch. You see, unlike the bass in the shallow, offshore schools have most likely not seen much angler activity in a couple of weeks. As such, they will jump on your bait.
Be warned, though, the remnant offshore schools are more like the proverbial needle in a haystack. Searching for fall bass in deep waters can turn out to be too tedious since they aren’t that many. As a result, you might have to wait several hours before you can locate a school. As you can probably tell, this is not for the faint-hearted, but it’s certainly worth your while.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to increase your chances of catching fall bass.
- Check out the initial offshore structure bass migrate to post-spawn. More often than not, bass hold longer in such places during fall. Such areas include where a creek channel and the main channel meet or humps at the entrance of major creeks.
- Target lone offshore schools with swimbait. This happens to be the most efficient way to net big offshore fall bass. Why? Because it works at any depth, sports a good thump, and the bass come up and blast it when they feel it swim overhead.
- Use a high-speed reel. Speed is essential when you want to catch up to a big fish swimming fast at you. Many anglers tend to fish a swimbait using a single hook on a slower reel, but since most bass swim at you, they can quickly come off if you cut them any slack.
Fall Bass Fishing Tips
Fall bass fishing might be tough, but if you would like to get away from the crowd and still catch some bass, check out the helpful tips below.
- Start heading offshore once you start hearing other anglers complaining about how tough it is.
- Don’t be put off by the fact that you might not see other boats offshore. Sometimes it pays off to go against the crowd.
- During the early weeks of fall, continue with your summer fishing patterns since bass only get started on their fall feeding patterns once the waters start getting colder.
- Bass retain their summer patterns at the beginning of fall. They only get into their fall feeding patterns after the water starts getting cooler.
- While the swimbait might provide the best presentation, it’s better to switch things up and try tempting the fish with something different like crankbait.
- Search for big or trophy bass on deep structure at 12-25 feet (3.7-7.7 meters). Other key locations favored by big bass are spots near the lake’s main channel, humps, plus deeply secluded pieces of cover that remain hidden even from electronics.
Fall bass fishing is a fun activity, but it comes with its fair share of frustrations. However, fall bass fishing can become easier if you learn the kind of baits to use, where to throw them, and the type of water to throw them into. Try out the tips outlined here and make your bass fishing adventures more exciting.
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