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While there’s no denying the spring spawning season is a great time of year to target Bass (especially big ones), Bass fishing during the fall season is a fantastic opportunity for the avid angler.
Beginning around September, the fall weather patterns begin to set in. This means increased wind, decreasing temperatures, and shorter days. It may not be the pleasant weather associated with summertime fishing, but it’s a dinner bell for Bass if you know where to look.
As water temperatures begin to decrease, and low-pressure systems increase, this creates a transition in the Bass behavior. They’ll begin to emerge from their deep stable temperature hangouts, and start venturing into mid-depth and shallow water flats, pockets, and creeks in search of food.
Fall is also the time of year when all of those summer-born bait fish are now reaching perfect eating size. Bluegill, shiners, and shad all born during the summer months are now 2–4 inches big and trust me, the Bass are hungry and on the hunt!
By understanding this change in Bass behavior and following their movement as the fall season unfolds, you can catch a lot of fish and have the lake to yourself most of the time.
How to Fish for Bass in the Fall
To catch Bass during the fall season, let’s break it down into two steps. First, focus on finding the transition areas from deep (summer) habitats into the shallower and mid-depth habitats. Second, after you find a suitable transition area, look for the bait! Specifically, look for features within the habitat that Bass can use to ambush and corral bait fish. That is precisely where you want to fish. Let me explain:
Check Transition Areas
During the hot summer months, Bass are staged in stable and cool water. This usually means deep areas, such as reservoirs, channels, or pits. As the water temperature drops during the fall, Bass will emerge from these deeper haunts and head shallow, stopping off at different transition areas along the way.
The challenging part is finding these transition areas that are holding fish.
Ledges, humps, and ditches are all underwater terrain features associated with transitions from deep to shallow. Depending on your lake this may also include submerged timber, points, or troughs.
You may have to do some homework and cover some water, but systematically checking these areas is the first step to locating fall Bass. As water temperatures drop, and the days get shorter, Bass will move on and off these transition areas, following the bait and looking for any feeding advantage they can find.
Follow the Bait
During the fall, Bass feed heavily. Not only as they emerge from the slow and sluggish summer months, but because they are trying to load up before the cold winter months set in. Large schools of shad and shiners will also be moving this time of year, and if you can find an area where they are present, you’re in luck!
Quality electronics can detect schools of bait beneath the surface, but keep an eye out for diving birds and surface wakes from bait schools. And don’t be afraid to look shallow – sandy spots in the shallow flats are excellent ambush spots for Bass feeding on sunfish and minnows.
Where to Fish for Bass during the Fall
Shallow Flats (Pre-Spawn Areas)
Depending on the water temperature in your area, fall Bass will push shallow in search of bait. The best way to find Bass in shallow water is to systematically break it down, starting deeper and working your way shallow until you get some bites.
If you know where Bass typically spawn during the later winter and spring, you’re in the right neck of the woods.
Creek mouths are the perfect transition habitat from deep to shallow water habitat. During the fall, Bass can stage anywhere from the deep water coves in front of creeks, all the way back into the creeks themselves.
Cover the water with a fast-moving bait to locate fish, then focus in on the areas that produce bites. And keep in mind, Bass can move in and out of these creek mouths in a very short period of time, depending on the weather and water temperatures.
Bass will take advantage of flowing water or current to stage an ambush on passing bait fish. If your lake or pond has a spillway, tidal influence, bridges, culverts, etc, these can be a goldmine!
Pay attention to the flow of the current, and how the water moves around the structure. Look for eddies, upflows, and overflow areas to push around bait.
One of my favorite things to look for during the fall is a long boathouse or dock that extends out into deeper water. These structures provide cover for Bass and often attract bait fish feeding on plankton and algae growing on pilings.
It’s even better if these structures are adjacent to those deep water refuges Bass use during the hottest months.
Hint: The bigger the boat on the lift, the deeper the water required for it to operate.
This article originally appeared here and was republished with permission.