Fall means cooler temperatures, shorter days and for some anglers, time to put away the fishing rod and go hunting. For others, those who “know” or just don’t have hunting grounds nearby, we keep on fishing. By “know,” I am referring to those seasoned vets who kno as vented moisture wicking shirts are being swapped for camo patterned hoodies, those of us who fish all year “know” this is the prime time to catch PB worthy fish and have one of your best days on the water.
Here are 5 fall techniques that you can use to reel in your new PB or at least keep fishing through the fall.
- Move towards the shallows - In the summer, fish will move into cover or into deeper water where the water temperature is cooler. In the fall, however, bass will tend to be in shallower water as they chase baitfish who are trying to find warmer water. Target bass in river channels, creeks and inlets with 3 to 6 feet of water. Here's another tip, aim for the windblown side, meaning the side the wind is hitting. On a side note, if you are reading this for fall bank fishing techniques, please keep in mind that as you approach the water, don’t just walk up to the edge and start casting towards the middle. A lot of times, you will just spook the fish you are trying to catch. Stay back about 6 feet from the water and target the areas along the bank before moving to the water.
Cover - You have always been told to aim for any sort of vegetation. For the fall, add rocks to your target areas. Better yet, add boulders, cement walls and rock piles. These formations hold heat very well as the water cools. Baitfish will congregate around these and where there is baitfish, bass are bound to be around.
Leave the boat in the garage - Often, I switch to kayak or bank fishing for the fall which allows me to fish the smaller bodies of water around me. From my experience, smaller bodies of water produce a better fishing experience during this time of the year. I don’t have to worry about covering all of the inlets and channels on a huge lake because I know the bass will be concentrated in the two or three main channels that lead into the small reservoir. In my kayak, since I don’t have a motor in the water, I can stealthily sneak up on a school of bass. For bank fishing, I cast into the wind and as I reel in my lure, it will move in the direction of bait fish moving towards the bank.
Change it up - We all have our go to confidence baits. In the fall, I always have 5 lures in my tackle box.
Topwater - In the early morning and dusk, I use a topwater. A basic walk-the-dog motion is usually sufficient to attract a bite. My go-to topwater lure is the good ol’ Heddon Zara Spook or a River2Sea Whopper Plopper.
Lipless/Squarebill crankbait- During the daytime, I will rotate through lipless and a shallow squarebill using a crank, crank, crank pause motion. I find that this motion is a lot more productive than just reeling the lure back at different speeds back to me. I’d like to think that since the lure has paused, the bass thinks it makes it an easier target and is more likely to take a bite than if it was constantly chasing the lure. My suggestion for a lipless crankbait is the Strike King Red Eye Shad series. For a squarebill, you can’t beat the colors and action of the Strike King KVD Square Bill Silent Crankbait. As for color, on days when the sun is out, choose a shiny chrome color. On cloudy days, I stick to a natural shad color pattern, save all of those other neat color patterns for the summer.
Jerkbait - The only time I am ever successful with a jerkbait is fall to winter. If I am not getting a bite with the steady retrieval of my crankbaits, I go for the more erratic action of a jerkbait. I use a jerk, jerk, pause motion. I got a Rapala X-Rap on sale once at Cabelas and I love it. I also recommend the KVD Jerkbait.
Soft Plastics - Finally, if the action of my cranks jerkbaits have not enticed a strike, I switch over to soft plastics. For me, watermelon with red flake colored anything works the best. Choose worm and craw imitators like a 222 GYCB 5” Yamasenko (“Senko”) or Strike King Rage Bug, respectively.
Note: When deciding when to change up your lure, trust your gut. If it feels like you should change it up, make a couple more casts, then change if you haven’t gotten a bite.
Double-Tap - In the fall, most fish school up. This includes bass… yes, even the big girls find comfort schooling with the little guys. If you catch a bass, don’t be afraid to keep casting to the same spot. If you annoy her enough by disturbing the little ones, she might just take a swing at your lure.