The fall season doesn’t arrive uniformly across the South. Some portions get it a bit earlier, and some a bit later. Regardless of when it arrives, however, it’s a welcome change from the scorching days of late summer. That applies to both anglers and bass, as cooling temperatures prompt increased activity from both.
For anglers, fall means days on the water are more pleasant. For bass, it’s a signal to start feeding up to lay in fat reserves for the coming winter. Mother Nature provides for the bass in the way of shad. The young-of-the-year shad have grown, are compacted into schools, and moving towards the cooling shallows. The bass aren’t far behind, and are ready to eat any shad they can find.
The quickest way for anglers to enjoy the fall weather, and catch some fish, is to find where bass and shad are meeting. That can vary, depending upon the type of water body one is fishing, and there are a number of different types. Here are the key fundamentals for each.
These deep highland lakes feature abrupt depth changes, have virtually no aquatic vegetation, and offer little more than rock and scattered wood for bass cover. With the exception of the spring spawning season, most anglers think you need to fish deep to catch bass.
This month, reverse that philosophy. Fish shallow. In fact, many of the areas that were productive during the spawn will produce now.
Shad schools leave the deeper main lake waters and move into shallow creek arms and bays for a brief period during the fall. The bass follow. Savvy anglers refer to this as the “fall fling” and while it may only last for a month or so, it can provide some of the hottest action of the year.
The first place you find bass and shad meeting are the main-lake points leading to the creek arms and bays. These are convenient ambush spots for the bass, and even if there are no shad visible, the bass will be waiting. If the shad are there, be alert for surface schooling activity. If not, deep diving crankbaits, jigs, or Carolina-rigged plastic worms and lizards will find them.
As fall progresses, shad move shallower. Look for those spots where bass can ambush shad.
Submerged tapering points, fallen timber — especially on outside bends of channels — or boulder piles are all areas bass can wait, and then feed on any shad passing by.
If an early fall cold snap slows the action, look for bass to drop back to the main-lake points, or hold on sheer bluff walls and pea gravel banks within the creek arms.
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