Fall BassBy Mike Mladenik - September 1, 2006
Many bass anglers love to fish the slop and shallow weeds in summer. By early September fishing the slop in the back bays is no longer a predictable pattern. While there may be a few stragglers in the slop, the bulk of the bass have moved. What happens in the early fall is that the weeds start to die off and there is a major migration of baitfish into deeper water. Bass being a predator follow this migration as they put on the feed for winter and the cold water period.
Unlike in summer when location large bass can be tough in fall they are easy to locate. This migration will usually stop on the edge of the bay with both bass and baitfish holding along the weedline. Use your electronics and cruise the weedline until you locate schools of baitfish. Once you locate baitfish largemouth bass should be in the general area. Often if the larger bass are not feeding on the baitfish they will be holding in irregularities in the weeds. These irregularities consist of inside turns, deep weed points or transition areas where the weeds mix with rock, gravel or wood.
First off, you will need to locate the active bass and there is no better way to accomplish this than with a crankbait. You need a crankbait that dives to the desired depth, is visible and has the right color pattern and vibration to trigger a big bass. The Yo-Zuri Crank'n Shad and Hardcore crankbaits will fit the bill. The Crank'n Shad with its unique swimming action is ideal for 6-8 foot weedlines. The Hardcore Series features crankbaits that will run from 1-12 foot. They have a patented Tungsten Magnetic Transfer System. This feature improves casting accuracy and distance which are both critical for weedline fishing. Once you start your retrieve, the weight in the crankbait will shifts to the center of the bait, balancing the swimming action for an irresistible presentation. www.yo-zuri.com.
Many anglers have trouble fishing weedlines for bass. Unlike musky fishing where you don't need to know the exact edge of the weedline for big largemouth you need to be precise. If need be toss out a few floating markers to mark the deep edge of the weedline. When on new water spend time to learn the weedlines. Searching for weedlines may take time but will result in more bass.
Smallmouth bass are also active during the early fall period. While larger lakes and flowages offer good action the best action will occur on smaller lakes. The ideal lake will have clear water, a maximum depth of at least 20 feet, with most of the water being deeper than 10 feet. These lake types have limited weeds but they can grow down to depths of 20 feet. On some lakes smallmouth do move shallow in the early fall but on others they will hold on the deeper weed patches, so expect to fish accordingly.
The sparse weed growth won't deteriorate very rapidly. However what baitfish are remaining in the lake will hold up in any green weeds. Even small patches of sand grass which grows in small clumps can hold high concentrations of baitfish. With the use of your electronics these baitfish should be easy to locate. Once you make this connection you are assured consistent action.
Finesse presentations are in order when working these small weed patches. One favorite tactic of mine is fish a four-inch finesse straight tail worm, on a modified Carolina Rig. Unlike most Carolina Rigs that use heavy weights, I will use the lightest weight possible. These weed related smallmouth can be very lethargic, and a heavy weight will turn them off. Top worm colors include pumpkinseed, green pumpkin, pumpkin pepper and black. If the water has a slight stain, try using chartreuse pepper.
Once you locate a small patch of grass, toss out a floating marker. Use a controlled drift with the aid of your trolling motor to fish as slow as possible. My Minn Kota 80 pound thrust Auto Pilot is ideal for this presentation. The Auto Pilot keeps me on course and allows me to finesse the worm along the bottom.
If the weeds fail to be productive, switch over to points and steep shoreline cover. Both are productive and can produce big Smallmouth. I start out fishing off shore structure and if smallmouth are present, they are active. The best shoreline structure will be a combination of rock and wood. Both will hold Smallmouth on there own but the combination of the two will hold larger smallmouth. The proper equipment is essential when finessing smallmouth or largemouth I prefer a seven foot rod like a Lamiglas XPS 703 or a Lamiglas XMG 50 Series EXS 721. www.lamiglas.com Spool your spinning reels with Yo-Zuri Hybrid Ultra Soft. This fluorocarbon/nylon blend is made specifically for spinning reels. Besides Ultra Soft being more supple it is still very abrasion resistant, water proof, UV resistant, and has less stretch than monofilament. When fishing a Carolina Rig tie on a fluorocarbon leader.
Last but not least is the explosive smallmouth action on rivers. By early fall big smallmouth are no longer scattered and once you locate a hawg others are close buy. While I get into plenty of action on lakes rivers are my passion in fall. Last year while fishing on the Menominee River, we boated many smallmouth over 6 pounds.
Plastics will continue to catch big smallmouth in the fall but if you are trophy hunting make sure you bring some 5-6 inch red tail chubs along. Most of the trophy smallmouths I catch on the river are taken with big red tail chubs. The larger smallmouth will seldom rise up to far off the bottom to hit the bait. However make sure you work your plastics as slow as possible.
Whether you fish for largemouth bass or Smallmouth bass in reservoirs large lakes or small lakes the early fall period can be exceptional. All it takes is some time to learn the water you are fishing and utilize the proper presentation. The early fall period is a time of plenty so take advantage of it.