Several things happen to bring about the fall bass feeding frenzy. The wind spins around from the north bringing with it cooler temperatures which in turn cool the water. Shorter days and longer nights also help drop water temperatures. We’ve all heard it a thousand times, the key to the fall bite is the dropping water temps? Okay that part is easy to figure out. But what do you do with it?
Versatility, what does that mean? To me it means being able to cover various possible patterns with in just a few minutes. To start my day I will try various top water baits depending on the cover I have available. If I have a lot of vegetation I’ll be working a frog and buzzbait and will interchange them until I get a bite. With wood cover or open water points and flats, I will have a pop’r, spook, and prop bait (like a torpedo) ready and interchange them looking for what kind of action they want. If I’m not getting bites within just a few minutes of each of these baits I will switch to a spinnerbait and rattle trap on the edge of the vegetation or against the wood. In more open water I will have a couple different depth crank baits tied on. Then finally comes the probing cover whether it be grass or wood, if nothing else has worked it’s time to slow down and hit them in the head. Now everything I just mentioned will be used in the first 20 minutes, while fishing a bank line or grass line, when I am trying to find a pattern.
Fall patterns change quickly you have to be ready for anything. In the blink of an eye, wind comes up, changes direction, clouds move in and out. Fish live day in and day out with these conditions and react to them instantly. As a bass fisherman you have too as well. Bass have one thing on their mind this time of year “EAT”. They need to feed up for the winter in order to survive long cold days where food sources are scarce. So just because you couldn’t get a top water bite this morning does not mean that at 11 am bass won’t be on the move eating anything near the surface.
Remember when bass fishing in the fall anything can happen. This is not the time of year to lock yourself into a specific pattern with minimal rods on the deck. Have it all out and ready to go and leave it there all day. I’ve started the day with no top water bite, no mid depth bite but could pick one off here and there punching grass mats. Before you know it, it’s high noon. Out of the blue I am having trouble keeping the boat out of the grass because the wind has come up and is blowing me into it? When I finally realize what’s going on the first thing I will do is back off and throw a frog over the top of the grass I was working. Do to the wind the fish get stirred up in the grass and because of the mid day light they will be able to see the silhouette of your bait over the top of the grass. I have turned and average day into a fantastic day with this pattern in the fall. Point being that in the fall with water temps falling bass are feeding and they will use all that nature has to offer them to their advantage! And we must as well!
Here are a couple quick scenarios that might help us understand why being versatile is a must. They’ve happened to all of us and being versatile could have helped us take advantage of the day!
Scenario #1 — Morning bite, you had a great frog pattern going over the lily pads but today, for whatever reason, they just are not hitting it like the previous days. You stick with it because you know it’s just a matter of time but it never develops. Later that day your buddy tells you he was smoking them on a spinnerbait in the pads?
Scenario #2 — I’ve been on great patterns flipping matted grass when all the sudden a large school of bass blows up in the middle of the lake. That flipping stick isn’t going to do you much good; you better have a top water, rattle trap or crank bait handy.
Don’t end up at the end of the day saying “Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda….” Fall is the time to be ready for anything. Be “versatile” from the start and you will be able to take advantage of pattern changes.
In closing I will also say something we have all heard more than we can count; “Find the Shad and you’ll find the Bass”. Being versatile allows you to cover a lot of water quickly, so keep your polarized sunglasses on and a sharp eye on the water. In the fall Shad will ball up near the surface as they move towards the backs of creeks and the water temperatures become more comfortable for them. The creeks provide a great food source for them and shad are a great food source for bass.
Get the Nets It’s a Hawg!