This time of year is still great for bass fishing!
Now that it is November, many anglers have already put the rods and reels away and winterized the boat. Many bass anglers may have bucks with large racks on the mind instead of fish with large mouths. Which is fine, we don't blame anyone for that.
However, fall bass fishing can be great and much less crowded than other times of the year. It's something many anglers are missing out on.
In fact, this is a great time to catch big fish. Here are our tips for making the most of your November bass fishing trips.
Understanding November bass
When talking about November bass, understand that how the fish behave will likely vary depending upon what part of the country you're fishing. Largemouth bass in Florida are going to be behaving in a much different manner than smallmouth bass in Michigan.
However, there are a few constants to keep in mind that should help you to pattern them no matter where you are. Just be prepared for a little trial and error along the way. Once you do find them, you will likely be able to catch bass in great numbers because they tend to group up this time of year.
The first thing you need to look for is baitfish. This could be shad, panfish or minnows. Wherever these species go, the bass will follow and feed upon them. Water temperature is going to play a big factor here because the prey species are likely going to seek out warm water over cold water since it provides more of the microorganisms for the baitfish to feed on.
If you're in a southern state like Texas or Alabama, it will likely be easier to find these schools of baitfish, as they're much more likely to be in shallow water. Look for docks, timber and brush piles; these spots tend to congregate baitfish and if they're around, the bass won't be far behind.
As those water temperatures continue to drop down to 50 degrees or colder, the fish tend to move deeper and become harder to locate. Consult lake maps, satellite images and your electronics to find deep structure elements fish can relate to. Also look for weed lines and creek channels going into deep water. Bass will often hold on those spots, ambushing prey before suspending deeper later in the month.
One great thing about November bass is that it can make for some of the best fishing action you'll get all year. If you catch one bass, odds are there are more hanging out close. Slow down and really work the spot over well before moving on.
Lures for November bass fishing
November is a great month to try and "match the hatch," so to speak, but for baitfish instead of insects. Most bass are going to feast until those water temperatures really drop and put them into a more sluggish state of mind.
We like crankbaits, spinnerbaits and swimbaits in natural colors as some of our top choices for lures in November. You'll find many pros tout November as being the best time of year to throw a lipless crankbait at big bass in deeper water.
Topwater lures like stickbaits or buzzbaits will also still catch fish in some areas in November. But you'll likely find they're more effective in southern states with clear water where water temperature drops aren't nearly as extreme.
As air and water temperatures get more harsh, you will probably have to slow things down, especially once the fish start moving to deeper water or start holding on the bottom. This is when you switch to a jig or Carolina or Texas-rigged plastic worms worked slowly along the bottom.
November is a great time of year to try finesse techniques like a wacky-rigged worm or a Ned rig. The latter is a great option because this stiff-tailed worm will resemble a minnow with its head down, feeding on the bottom. Many bass can't resist slurping up that kind of easy meal when it comes bouncing past them. Try a chartreuse color to mimic a baitfish and a green-pumpkin or orange to mimic a crawfish.
Don't neglect soft-plastic tube baits, jerk baits or other slow-moving critter baits that resemble crayfish either.
Other November fishing tips
One of the hardest parts of November bass fishing is just locating the fish. Forget what they were doing in the spring and summer, because the bass aren't likely to be hanging out in the same spots unless there are some specific structure like we mentioned earlier in this article.
Some good electronics will shorten your search significantly. But if you don't have any, try using fast-moving spinnerbaits or crankbaits as search lures. Once you do get a bump on the end of the line, it's time to work that area more closely, because a big bite from one of that fish's buddies may be waiting.
The colder the climate you're fishing, the more you should pay attention to lure size. We like to throw baits that are slightly smaller than we'll use in the spring and summer months. Sometimes the larger baits are just a tad too aggressive for colder water fish.
Finally, don't be afraid to experiment a little bit. If nothing is biting, it may be time to try live bait. Try freelining wild shiners in more southern states and fishing crappie minnows under a bobber in more northern ones. Sometimes the real McCoy is the only thing that will fool stubborn, cold bass.
Right now, here in Michigan, I'm noticing most of the most popular bass lakes are totally devoid of anglers right now. What are you waiting for? Odds are you'll have the whole lake to yourself while others are sitting up in their treestands!