The temps are dropping and the fall feedbag is quickly approaching! This time of year can be a frustrating time for bass anglers, but it can also result in some epic days on the water! Here are some tips to help you be successful this fall!
First off, if you go to your local lake you may notice an explosion of baitfish (specifically gizzard shad) swimming everywhere! These shad will be around 2 inches in length and will be grouped up in bait balls all over the place! When targeting largemouth in shallow cover, make sure you keep an eye out for these bait balls. In many situations when I see these bait fish up shallow, I will cast to the closest cover as well as in and around those bait balls. A variety of shad imitation lures will pick off these bass feeding on those shad but my favorites include chatterbaits, swimjigs, flukes, poppers, walking baits, whopper ploppers, and buzzbaits.
When it comes to chatterbaits, I pick one up just about every time I go out. The prevailing theory about chatterbaits is to throw them when it's windy, and it does seem like that is when they excel. However, I've had way too many successful days on the water when the wind is dead calm to rule out a chatterbait. As for specific type of chatterbait, I prefer to throw a Z-man Mini Max
in some type of shad pattern. In the springtime I gravitate to the jackhammer
, but the Mini Max does a better job of matching forage size in the fall and gets the bulk of the workload. My favorite trailer to pair with the chatterbait is a Zman Baby Goatz
. I'll match the colors up and go to town with that combo, so give that a try this fall!
As for swimjigs, I will throw them alongside the chatterbait to determine which bait the bass prefer that day. My preferred swimjig setup is a 3/8oz Strike King Tour Grade swimjig
with a Keitech Fat Impact swimbait
trailer. When you retrieve both the swimjig and chatterbait, make sure to throw in a few twitches of the rod. I will often get strikes immediately after imparting twitching action into the bait so that's a big key to using these baits. Also make sure that you are running these lures through grass. If your bait gets hung up in the grass rip it out with some elbow grease, and you will again often get strikes just as you rip it free!
So let's say the bass just don't seem to be chasing your lures on a particular day. That's when I reach for a Zoom fluke
. I'll continue to target baitfish around shallow cover, but I'll cast a weightless fluke into those areas and work it with some finesse like you would a senko. Another thing to try is to Texas rig a fluke and drag it around rock if you happen to have some rockpiles where you are fishing.
Next, you can't forget about topwater! There are a ton of shad pattern top water baits that will work in the fall. My preferred ones are poppers
, walking baits
, whopper ploppers
, and buzzbaits
. Long story short, I throw poppers when targeting very specific pieces of cover that I'm confident hold bass. Walking baits work well for covering bigger areas like grass flats or tapering points. Whopper ploppers work great when fishing around cover where they won't get hung up too often. They are also a solid choice when the lake holds both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Finally if you're fishing around a lot of snaggy grass then I reach for the buzzbait.
Last but not least, make sure to fish with an open mind! I recently fished in a kayak tournament where I went out to prefish and caught four bass over 18 inches all using the techniques I laid out above! Expecting these patterns to work on tournament day, these were basically the only baits I brought with me on my kayak. My lack of an open mind came back to haunt me as I only caught a single bass that day, while the top guys caught their limits throwing craw and bluegill patterns. So, if these techniques aren't working for you, don't be afraid to go against the grain!
I hope these tips will help you out as you go out to target bass this fall. Tight lines everyone!