“Falling” for You
As the dog days of summer time sun tea give way to the smell of fall time pumpkin spiced lattes and “crisp” air temperatures, most bass anglers start to “fall” into a comatose state. “What do I mean”, you ask? I am talking about the fall transition. This is the transition from the blistering, sluggish days of short sleeves, shorts, sun masks and flip flops to the days of short sleeves, long pants and huge bags of bass. For most anglers, this is the one specific time of the year that they can go out and possibly catch that fish of the lifetime. The cooler temperatures induce a feeding frenzy for the bass so that they can “fatten” up for the winter. Much like how a bear hibernates for the winter, so do bass, so to speak.
We all know that fish are cold blooded animals. By that I mean their activity is equal to their body temperature. The warmer the fish, the more active they are and so on. So in order to prepare for the winter, the fish have to eat enough food in order to compensate for their energy levels for the late fall and winter. This does not mean that the fish stop eating in the winter, but this feeding frenzy helps them cope with the harsh cold temperatures of the winter, thus increasing their survivability in the winter. So, what does this mean for the angler? This means that the time is right for catching that trophy bass. There are two prime times throughout the year in order to catch that trophy, (Spring and Fall), and the time is upon us.
In order to catch that trophy, you must first understand the migratory routes of bass. Bass follow the baitfish, (American and Gizzard shad, tilapia, herring, ect), as they start preparing for the winter as well. During the late summer, early fall, the baitfish and bass will start to move up from their summertime depths to flats. They do this as the shallower water starts to increase in oxygen levels and the depths of the lake / river starts losing oxygen. The baitfish will start moving in to these flats and near mouths of creeks to “suck up” that oxygen rich water. Thus in turn, the bass follow. Now is the time to get out those crankbaits that you have put back in the tackle boxes and start throwing them. Pay attention to structure in and on the flat. Grass, wood, and rock are key areas to look for when fishing fall flats. The bass like to stay areas and ambush prey as they migrate to their late fall haunts. Do this by starting out on the edge of the flat first working your way to the top of the flat. If nothing is there, look for the baitfish in the creeks. They may be already on their move to the backs. Now, as the days become shorter, the baitfish will move up from the flats to the backs of the creeks for the same reasons.
Fall is a good time for crankbaits, but it is also a great tie for spinnerbaits. Try matching the color of the skirts to that of the baitfish. You may also want to try to size up the blades to that of the baitfish as well. As with cranking, work the edge of the flats and then move up when fishing a spinnerbait. Deflect the lure off laydowns and rock to entice aggressive strikes.
So remember, when the nights start to cool and the kids go back to school, cranks and spinners are the tools!