By Brandon Card
As the weather starts to change and the temperature starts to dip the fish are also in a state of transition. Fishing can yield some big bass during this time of year, but it can also prove to be a challenge as the fish are scattered and continuously on the move. Here are a few things that I do to maximize my success when fishing during the fall.
Shallow or Deep
With the fish on the move, you can pick your poison and fish how you prefer this time of year. There are generally good populations of fish in both depth ranges, and the good news is they are all usually feeding. Depending on baitfish migrations, it can be better to stay shallow as fish will continually push shallow to feed. Every fall bass start to push back to the creeks as they follow shad and your areas can replenish if you are in the right areas. There is nothing better than having fish coming to you looking to eat.
This time of year I like to quickly cover shallow water until I get a bite because fish are in schools so often this time of year. I like to use a squarebill like a Yo-Zuri 3DB Series squarebill in a shad pattern because you can fish it fast and throw it just about anywhere.
Once I find an area holding fish, I will slow down and fish the area more thoroughly with a Yamamoto D Shad. It is one of my favorite baits this time of year since it imitates a baitfish so well. I’ll also mix in a wacky-rigged Senko if there isn’t much cover around. The great thing about both of these baits is you can fish them higher in the water column or lower depending on where the fish are positioned.
Another of my favorite ways to catch them this time of year is with a swim jig. A white swim jig with a 5” Yamamoto Twintail Grub in Blue Pearl with Silver Flake (#031) is one of the best ways to match a shad, and you can fish the jig in grass, wood, or rocks and still cover water quickly.
One thing I like to do is mix up my retrieves and experiment until I find what the fish want that day. Some days they want it fished pretty steady, and sometimes you need to include a few pumps of your rod to give it a little different action.
Smallmouth vs. Largemouth and Spots
The two approaches I mentioned are what I do for largemouth and spotted bass, and I adjust it slightly when I am targeting smallmouth. In my experience smallmouth do not migrate near as much as largemouth and spots do as they head back into the creeks looking for shad. Smallies tend to be a little closer to the mainlake, but they will still push shallow this time of year to feed.
The D-Shad is still one of my favorite things to throw for smallmouth; I change my approach and fish closer to the mainlake. Instead of using a square bill to locate them, I find myself covering water with a walking bait like a Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil. Again, once I find bass willing to bite, I slow down and pick the area apart with the D-Shad.
Fall is a time of change, and that can be one of the best times of year to catch huge numbers of hungry bass. I look forward to this time of year because you can move quickly and once you find the fish you can have nonstop action.