Fall is a great time of year to fish. Bass are feeding actively to bulk up for the cold winter ahead. These few “cool” transition months are an opportune time to catch some trophy fish.
Depending on where you live in the US determines when your fall fishing patterns start. In the north like Minnesota, Michigan and New York you can expect the change in September. In North Carolina it may not happen until mid October and states like Georgia and Arkansas may not experience fall patterns until November.
Two changes occur in the fall that anglers must pay attention too for understanding the fall transition. First, are the shorter hours of daylight. Every fall I keep close attention to the time to know when to start focusing on fall fishing patterns. As soon as it becomes dark around 7:30-8:00 pm I feel confident that fish are moving around. I always remember that timeframe so I know it’s time to start focusing on different patterns. Shorter days, is the number one characteristic to focus on.
Weather is another huge factor, but the fish will pick up on the low light first. This year in NC I was fishing fall patterns as early as late September. With a few shorter days of light and a few colder days in a row the fish really moved up to actively feed on shad.
The shorter days matched with cold fronts is like a light switch for bass. It triggers something in them to become very active. By paying attention to approaching cold fronts you can beat a good day on the water soon after. Look for fish in shallow creek arms with good cover. Watch for huge school of shad that have moved up. Bass will be in that area. Notice the depth at which the shad are in. Be sure to change your lure choice to target that key strike zone. Don’t be afraid to go very shallow. In the fall I have caught bass as shallow as 1 ft.
Good lure choices for this time of year are spinner baits and buzzbaits like the Bass Assault 3/8 Midnight Sexy Shad and 3/8oz Lucky Shad, crank baits like the Rapala Crankin Rap in Regal shad and Helsinki Shad and lipless crank baits such as the Spro Aruku Shad in Clear Chartreuse and Magic Shad. I prefer lures that resemble the shad in the lake. I stick with whites, bream and shad colors for all three lure types. Bass are actively feeding and will be chasing food around all day. Do be surprised if you see huge topwater explosions all day long as the bass are busting shad under the surface.
This time of year can tend to last for a few months but can also change overnight. The key factor for when bass change from actively feeding in early fall to searching out warmer water in late fall is water temperature. My magic number is 77 degrees. Start looking for bass to move shallow at this temperature. Around 57 degrees start looking for bass to move out deeper. The cold nights later in October cool the shallow water first driving the bass deeper to stay warm. Bass will move shallow again if the sun is shining and it’s a warmer day for that mouth.
Keep a close eye on these few characteristic and you will find bass during the early fall bite. Check back for some late fall season tips for finding warm water and keeping you on those transitioning bass. Have fun when you’re RippinLip Outdoors!