GET YOUR FALL BASS ON!
Every part of the country is different when it comes to seasonal bass fishing. I noted that down here in Alabama and across this part of the south, spring fishing will begin sometime in the latter part of February. Up north in southeastern Pennsylvania and across the river in Jersey, spring bass fishing doesn't get going until late April. While the winter and spring seasons vary, fall is more universal. Fish tie on the feed bag starting in September, even where temperatures still hit the 80's by day. Fall is a solid two and a half to three months in the north and three to four everywhere but Florida, California and Texas where there are only two seasons- Hot and Not Cold.
The fall actually is a better time to fish than spring from a pressure point of view as a lot of our fishing friends put down their rods & reels in favor of bows, rifles and shotguns. For that same reason, the tournament season winds down. Even up north, fishing will be good well into November. The best thing about fall fishing is that until it gets cold, you will have success with reaction baits- topwaters, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and swimbaits can produce big days.
As soon as the water cools with cooler nights, bass will move shallower onto flats and into creek arms producing what many view as classic fall fishing. Shad migrate up feeder creeks laying in the deeper pools. Throwing immitating lipless cranks, squarebill, swimbaits or spinnerbaits can get you a lot of action. The bass will be aggressive and the strikes will be hard. Cover such as wood, rocks, points, and stumps will be gathering spots for bait and ambush spots for bass. Crawfish imitators also will do well in the rocks and along the banks.
As fall gives way to cooler days and cold nights, things will begin to wind down, requiring more of a finese approach- meaning generally a need to slow down. Swim baits, tubes, and deeper diving cranks will start to play, but it is still a fairly shallow bite until consitent winter temps truly set in. The warm sun will still bring bass in shallow late in the season during the afternoon.
In the late season, shad will begin moving out of the creeks into their offshore haunts where they suspend. This is where traditional winter techniques such as vertical jigging with spoons, blade baits on slow retrieve, and dragging tubes and swimbaits slowly across the bottom all come into play.
These techniques are tried and true when it comes to fall fishing, but just because there are times when the fish seem to attack anything and everything on the end of your line, don't forget, it is still a high percentage game. Be aware of your depths, your structure, your water temperature and make sure you keep you eye on where bait is congregating. Regardless of what part of the fall it is, early, middle or late, adding these skills to the rest of the fall mix will give you the best chances to Live The Passion!
Eric Evans is a writer, blogger and Director of Social Media for iBass360. He calls the Philadelphia area home, and he can often be found fishing smallmouth in the smallie-rich rivers and lakes of the northeast and midwest. Most recently, living in the Tennessee River Valley, home to Guntersville, the Coosa impoundments, Pickwick and more, he has upped his largemouth game with new techniques. He has fished freshwater and saltwater all over the world and has a passion for sharing his experiences through his writing.