5 Hotspots For Fall Bass
October 23, 2017
Don't pass up even one of these great locations for some great fall bass fishing.
In most waters, bass in November are on the move from the shallow foraging areas to their deep wintertime haunts. During their migration, bass seek out some fast-food spots where they can chow down on baitfish.
These fast-food spots usually are some type of cover found in virtually all bodies of water throughout the United States. Bass use the cover as rest stops and as ambush points to nab a quick meal before heading out to their winter homes.
Savvy bass anglers also look for those hotspots to pinpoint migrating bass during late fall and winter.
Here's a look at five hotspots for finding bass in November and the best methods for catching fish from each type of cover.
Bass tournament pro Jacob Wheeler believes November can be the toughest time of the year to catch bass, so he tries to cover a lot of water. "In the fall transition, a lot of bass are scattered out and weeds seem like the best deal going," Wheeler said. He increases his catch rate by keying on bass relating to the grass flats on the main lake or in bays and creeks.
Wheeler tries to locate sweet spots in the vast stretches of weedy flats. "I am always looking for a transition in those flats with grass in it, whether it is a ditch or a point — something that is a little bit different," he said. "Bass are normally going to be on something that is irregular."
As the water gets colder, the shallow grass starts dying out and bass move to the deeper grassbeds where they suspend in the tops of the submerged aquatic vegetation to ambush baitfish. Wheeler tempts these aggressive fish by throwing topwater lures over submerged weeds.
His favorite topwater lures for bass in the weeds are a Rapala Skitter V and Storm Arashi Top Walker. Weather conditions dictate which type of topwater Wheeler works over the weedtops. On calm days, he prefers the subtle walking action of the Top Walker, but he switches to the Skitter V when wind creates choppy water. The Skitter V spits and sputters and produces a loud knocking sound that helps bass hone in on the bait easier on the turbulent surface.
A fallen tree jutting from the bank is another fast-food spot for bass because it provides ambush points from shallow water at one end of the log to deep water at the other end.
A well-known champion of numerous bass tournaments, David Fritts keys on laydowns in dirty water with a visibility of only 1 to 1 1/2 feet. "If I had only one thing to fish, then it would definitely be wood," Fritts said of his main target for November bass.
Banging a square-billed crankbait into the logs is Fritts' favorite method for catching bass from the wood cover. "The main deal with a square bill is it reacts differently when it hits cover," he said. Fritts notices after it hits the log a square-billed crankbait will deflect wider than a round-lipped crankbait, and that triggers more reaction strikes.
Fritts initially throws his crankbait to the edges of the laydown to catch bass roaming outside the cover. Then he casts to the middle of the log to tempt bass holding tight to the wood.
"To be effective in a laydown you have to get your bait through it," Fritts said. "If you hang every time you throw it in there you are not going to catch many fish."
Fritts prevents hanging up his lure by winding it at a medium to medium-fast pace on a 5.1:1 gear-ratio baitcasting reel. When the crankbait hits a limb, he raises his rod slightly allowing the lure to float up and then quickly cranks the reel so the lure bangs into the cover again.
"Docks are good all year long because they offer shade, and people put brushpiles around a lot of docks," said bass-fishing pro Terry Scroggins. "A lot of guys also have feeders on the docks. There are so many things that draw fish to docks that they stay good most of the year, but that time of the year (November) is really good."
Bass suspend under floating docks where they can ambush baitfish feeding on the algae that grows on the dock flotation. Scroggins keys on docks leading out of the backs of pockets and creeks during November.
Most of the time Scroggins prefers swimming a white 3/8- or 1/2-ounce jig to catch bass suspending under the dock. He matches the jig with a Zoom Super Chunk and skips it under the dock where he retrieves the bait with a pumping action to keep it swimming within about 1 1/2 feet of the surface. When he wants to create more commotion while swimming the jig, Scroggins adds a Zoom Super Speed Craw or a Strike King Rage Craw to the jig and cranks the combo at a steady pace.
Baitfish and bass are both attracted to the warmth of the rocks that absorb and retain the sun's heat even on cold November days.
Marcus Sykora, another tournament champion, looks for wind-blown rocky banks in November. That's because he knows bass will be feeding on baitfish there. "I actually like to fish hard transitions where the bank goes from big rock to little rocks, or some sort of continuous blend of some ledge rock, gravel and some good-sized rock in it," he said.
Waking a 1/2-ounce spinnerbait with tandem willow-leaf blades is Sykora's most productive tactic for catching bass on the rocks. "Waking a spinnerbait mimics a lot of the things bass are feeding on in the rocks and it causes not only a hunger strike but also a reaction strike," Sykora said. He also likes to wake spinnerbaits a lot because, "it is a great way to cover water."
The tournament competitor positions his boat over 12 to 20 feet of water and points the boat's nose at a 30- to 45-degree angle to the bank. By presenting his lure at that angle, Sykora can keep the spinnerbait in the strike zone longer. He retrieves the spinnerbait fast enough that its blades bulge the water but don't break the surface.
Reservoirs with flooded timber provide a jungle of cover for migrating bass in November. Two types of wood cover bass seek during this time of year are pole timber (the broken-down remains of hardwood trees) and petrified cedar trees.
Veteran fishing guide and bass fishing competitor Pete Wenners keys on standing timber in November. That's because he knows the trees provide cover for bass waiting to pick off migrating baitfish. He keys on timber situated along a baitfish migration route, places such as creek channels or secondary points.
Wenners suggests an ideal hotspot for November is an isolated cedar tree mixed in with pole timber. "The cedar trees are so good because they are usually where the dropoffs are," Wenners said. "The cedars normally will be in the shallow water (less than 20 feet deep) but are real close to a steeper bank or drop."
The cedars also provide thicker cover than pole timber and absorb heat better so bass snuggle against the trees and suspend at various depths, depending on the water temperature and the depth of the baitfish.
A spinnerbait is the best lure option for throwing to bass in standing timber because the blade baits can be fished at various depths. The blade bait can be waked on the surface for bass suspended in the treetops or slow-rolled down to depths of 15 to 20 feet. When targeting bass in the treetops, Wenners opts for a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce spinnerbait with tandem willow-leaf blades in No. 3 and No. 3 1/2 sizes. He switches to a 3/4- or 1-ounce spinnerbait with No. 5 and 6 blades for slow-rolling to bass suspended deeper in the trees.