Here's what fall smallmouth bass are looking for.
Outside of pre-spawn and the spawn, fall can be one of the best times to catch big smallmouth bass. Here is some things to think about while trying to fool smallmouth during autumn.
Local Forage Species
An angler needs to have a good understanding of what forage species are available to the smallmouth in his area. Most places have one or two species of shad and sometime four species of crawdads. Knowing what the exact species is will help you hone in on what color bass want.
Most crawfish that a smallmouth bass feeds on in the fall will become darker in color. This means as angler you need to understand what species of crawfish live in your area. As a rule of thumb for most clear water lakes, greens, browns, oranges and reds will catch fish thoughout the year, but in fall the colors of your plastics may need to be darker to get bit.
Baitfish on your lake won't change color like the crawfish will, but with them returning to the shallows to fatten up for winter, the bass will be feeding on them heavily. So whites and silvers mixed with chartreuse and some red will be very good options.
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Many lakes across the counry will begin drawing down during the fall. This usually means that as water levels drop on the lake you fish the water becomes even clearer. Most lakes smallmouth inhabit are already infested with the invasive quagga or zebra mussle which means they are already super clear. Add these two things together and you have a recipe for 25 feet of water clarity which means your baits need to look as close to the real thing as possible.
Speed up your Retrieve
An easy way to disguise your bait to a bass is to speed up your retrieve. Smallmouth can be suckers for a fast moving bait that they have to run down to eat. As alway color matters here, but the smallmouth will tell you just how fast they want it and the right color so keep an open mind.
Don't be Afraid to Downsize
Even if your bait is the exact color of what the bass are eating this time of year, chances are they have seen it all through out the summer and by using a small bait you may be giving them that something different that gets them to bite.
Downsizing a crankbait this time of year also matches the young baitfish that you see swimming and breaking the surface that bass love to chase. These fish are usually this years hatchlings and make an easy meal for a bass. A white, silver or white with chartreuse rapala shad rap fished on a spinning set up moving along at a pretty rapid rate will catch bass.
As you can see the key to getting clear water smallmouth bass to bite this time of year is coming as close to your fishes local forage as possible and then moving the bait quickly so the fish can't distinguish what it actually is.