Finding the Fall Bass: Tips and Tricks to Land a Lunker
It’s that time of year again. Cold fronts are sweeping the land and water temps are dropping. The crisp wind chills your bones as you rocket across the top water. The bass know what time it is too. It’s time to grub up before winter. Although the leaves have yet to transform into picturesque buttery shades of red, yellow and brown – the monster fall bass are on the prowl.
These Goliath’s have already survived several winters. They know what’s par for the course of survival. Natural selection has seen to that. In order to hop in on this fantastic full throttle fight, let me just “cast” (too much?) a couple tips and tricks out there.
Fall Bass Location. Location. Location.
As fall approaches, the average water temps will drop further into the mid 50s. As it does this, the older bass are going to seek warmer water. This means you can find them in shallower grounds, anywhere from 1 foot to 6 feet of water. Be wary of depth drop offs, as the bass’ preferred meal (shads) tend to gather in flatlined areas.
I tend to base my depths of presentation correspondingly to the water clarity. The murkier the water, the shallower I cast. Artificial colors are a crapshoot, in my experience, so try different color variations until you find one that works. Just don’t get too jealous when your partner lands a lunker and you’re still pulling up weeds.
Ground cover isn’t AS important this time of year, in comparison to hotter months. Bass lurking under structure are exposed to even cooler water temperatures (no warming sunlight), which could tickle them the wrong way. Furthermore, their pray are not coalescing around structures for protection but are on the move towards feeding in the tributaries. A wise bass, and thus a large bass, knows where they’ll be heading.
Most bass fishermen refuse to even comment on live baits. Well that’s their prerogative. I get it, you’ve got a sense of pride. But as a man who hails from the saltwater world – I’ll try anything to get a bite. Throw a large gizzard shad on a float rig or jig along the bottom. Sit back and smile while sipping whiskey from a flask.
Ok. That’s a bit much, but if you just want the fight and not the hunt then I don’t see what’s wrong with that. Just be sure to use a circle hook (preferably 2 ought) to prevent the bass from bellying the hook. Killing bass is NOT cool. Remember, with a circle hook you don’t need to set it. Just reel in the slack of the line and the bass will do the work for you.
As far as lures go, there are plenty of options. From crankbaits to poppers, the world is your oyster. Bass are hungry and want to eat something. Depending upon weather conditions, you may want to switch up tactics.
I would suggest starting off with some suspending jerkbaits if the wind gusts are picking up. The larger the better this time of year, as the big boys are out to play. My suggestion would be the Megabass Vision 110 (I prefer the “GG Deadly Black Shad” color form). I know they’re pricey, around $25 a pop, but they’re worth it.
If it’s a calmer day and the bass are breaching surface, try out some small topwater poppers. I’m a big fan of the Rebel Magnum Pop-R topwater lures. The behemoth bass sense the surface struggle and can’t help but attack.
Finally, the good ol’ crankbait. Although they are deadly against pike or walleye, you can never go wrong with the staple. Call me old fashioned, but I’ve always stuck by the Rapala Original Floater (size 9). Mid-water column dives (3′-5′), while maintaing a floating base to fish the shallow waters.
Regardless of what you tactic or lure you choose, now is the time to get on the water. The bass (both largemouth and smallies) are starting their autumn feast. Don’t get left out in the cold. Tight lines ‘Merica!
Feel free to share your own tips and tricks in the comment section below.