For many bass fishing enthusiasts, fall is a slow and long slog of a season, one characterized by a dwindling number of fishing competitions and by fish migration patterns that are not optimal for bringing large quantities of fish home to the dinner table. Fall bass fishing patterns can be tough to keep track of.
However, while many bass anglers often take a few weeks off of fishing in the fall – especially if they are also hunters and have an interest in hitting the woods in search of good whitetail – those who do choose to keep up their time at the river, stream, or lake can be rewarded by the changing weather patterns and the behavioral idiosyncrasies the season brings out in fish.
Springtime is often considered the prime fishing season, largely because conditions change so rapidly and so quickly that fish have to respond to the patterns, in turn making them easier to catch. Most of the same things are true for the fall, and an angler who knows how to play the patterns right will end up catching plenty of fish.
The first thing to be aware of is the changing of water temperatures. No matter what sort of water body you consider your primary fishing stomping ground, the trends there will likely be the same: as the fall progresses, the water gets colder.
As the water gets colder, bass and other baitfish residing in deep waters will begin reacting to the frigid water temperatures and moving toward the shallows. In other words, if you are looking to catch a big fish in the fall, you may not have to go out into the middle of the lake on a fishing boat to do it.
In fact, most bass will flock around shallow area cover – from fallen trees and stumps to your private docks – in the fall. They’ve come to you instead of requiring you to come find them: don’t waste the opportunity.
In order to play such shallow water bass patterns, you will need to adjust your fishing game. Most pro anglers advocate for lures like crankbaits, spinnerbaits, or topwaters, which can easily entice a hungry, shallow-water bass to take a bite. A rod-and-reel with a short cast is essential for such shallow water fishing patterns.
As the fall moves forward and baitfish like shad begin to flee to creeks and shallow streams to escape the colder temperatures, bass will follow, and so must you.
Even as colder weather rolls in and most anglers start calling it a year, the chances of scoring a big trophy fish aren’t altogether gone. Bass will hang around in the shallows on warm days far into the fall season. Areas that grab 50-degree days late in November or early in December are simply begging anglers to head to the creeks, streams, and lakeshores to score a few last-minute trophy fish in two-foot water depths.
Bass at this time are often less careful and discerning with food than they are during the summer months, meaning late fall might actually give you more great catch opportunities than the most gorgeous days of July.