As fall approaches, many novice anglers tend to think that bass fishing season is coming to a close… but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Normally, bass get less aggressive in colder temperatures, but when cooling down from the extreme heat of summer, conditions actually become much, much better for bass feeding and, more importantly, bass fishing.
In fact, many experienced anglers say October is their favorite month for bass fishing. This is especially true for those in pursuit of trophy bass. This is a great time of year for jigs and swimbaits, which are well known for being big bass lures.
If you’ve always been one to store your rods for winter once the leaves start to turn, you’ve been missing out. Between the favorable water temperatures and fishing pressure on most waters being on the decline, this is a great time of year to catch a lunker bass.
There are certain baits that are especially great for fall bass fishing. Granted, lure selection should be based more on water temperature than the date of the calendar— but if you’re fishing in a sweatshirt, then you can almost always rely on these lures to produce in the cooling waters of fall.
Top 3 Fall Lures
There is no overall better performing lure for fall bass fishing than a jig. Listen to any professional bass fisherman talk about the fall, and they’ll always mention a jig. The fall is a time when bass are feeding on shad and other small baitfish, and a jig can represent that nicely in different ways.
Most anglers automatically think that a jig represents a crawfish, which isn’t necessarily wrong in a lot of instances, but jigs are much more versatile in how they can be presented. A lot has to do with color: you should be trying to match the natural prey that bass are feeding on in a particular body of water.
Color selection is especially crucial in the fall when bass are feeding aggressively for hibernation season, dialed into a pattern of targeting the color of a particular baitfish. The nice thing about jig color is that between the head, skirt and trailer, you have the ability to zero-in on the exact color-combinations you want to present.
The other advantage to fishing jigs in the fall is you have the ability to slow them down. Towards the end of fall brings cooler water temperatures, making bass sluggish and less aggressive. This is when slowly hopping a stand-up style jig like a BiCO Jig on the bottom can be deadly.
Buzzbaits have a strong reputation for being a springtime bait, and this is because spring is a time when bass are feeding heavily and the water temps are favorable for fast-moving topwater baits. Well, fall brings with it very similar conditions, especially in early fall.
Fall bass are feeding on shad and other baitfish, which is what a buzzbait represents. The sputtering and splashing is designed to send off signals of a small, distressed fish swimming erratically up on the surface.
Similarly, the fall is a time when bass tend to be in and around weeded areas, places where a buzzbait excels. Bass use the weeds as cover to ambush baitfish as they pass by. Running a buzzbait like a Booyah Buzz through grass and along weedlines is a great tactic for luring bass out to explode on the surface.
If you’re not looking for numbers and it’s big bass you want, then swimbaits are what you should be throwing. At a time of year when bass are gorging on other fish, a swimbait is an excellent choice for anglers pursuing the bass of a lifetime.
As the swimbait craze continues, with it comes new designs of extraordinarily detailed, large profile baits. Whether bass are feeding on bluegill or rainbow trout, with the wide selection out there today, you can almost identically match the species you’re looking to mimic.
Waking a big swimbait like a Spro BBZ1 on a rippled surface, or slow-rolling a soft paddle tail swimbait like a Savage Gear 3D Real Trout are both effective methods for getting a big one to bite in the fall. Most of these big baits are slow-moving and not only represent an easy meal, but a fulfilling one too.
The high water temperatures that summer bring— especially August— actually cause bass to become sluggish and less aggressive. They will head for the depths in search of the comfort of cooler water temperatures. It’s when fall moves in that bass start to venture back to the shallows with a renewed desire to feed.
Fall Bass Fishing
Although spring is a much more complex season for bass fishing, it’s actually not all that different from fall in terms of water temperature becoming more favorable. More specifically, it’s similar to when bass move up to shallow water from the depths in search of food. The only difference is in spring the shallows are warming up and in the fall the they are cooling down, but those temperatures both moving towards more comfortable water is what makes them comparable.
Bass behavior is highly affected by water temperature, they are typically most active in 60 to 75 degree water. In temperatures colder or warmer than that range, bass begin to get more lethargic. Naturally, a lethargic bass is more difficult to catch than an active one, making this temperature range a highly sought after window for bass anglers.
As these more comfortable water temps move in, and with bass sensing that winter is fast approaching, they go into what is known as “the fall feed”. This is a time when bass tend to gorge themselves in preparation for winter. When winter sets in, bass become so lethargic that they barely need to eat at all. In fact, since their bodies burn such little energy these cold conditions they can survive on a single bait fish for an entire month.
Bass in general are on a feeding frenzy during the fall, but what makes this season so great for bass fishing is this when the really big bass begin feeding aggressively. An aged bass knows the changes in the seasons well and knows the conditions that lie ahead. As a result, they know how to prepare. Luckily for bass fishermen, there is no better preparation for bass heading into winter than getting as fat as they can before the water freezes over.
There are certain techniques for fall bass fishing that when implemented correctly can get big bites right into November. It’s all about the right lures, the right colors, and the right action. Here are few fall fishing tactics that are highly effective this time of year.
The great thing about jigs is they are effective year round, but they are especially well known for the best fall bass lure. This is mainly because of how much control you have over their presentation, in terms of color patterns, style of retrieval, and rate of retrieval. This versatility allows you to effectively fish a jig from early fall, right up to Winter just by making adjustments to your presentation.
Swimming a jig in early fall is a great method for getting the active bass that this time of year brings to bite. This is best done by rigging a swim jig with a smaller paddle tail swimbait trailer. Running a swim jig through grass and light vegetation is deadly in early fall.
As waters get colder, bass tend to slow down, so you need to slow down your presentation as well. This is when working a jig slowly on the bottom becomes an effective tactic. Hopping a jig up and down on the bottom portrays an easy meal for slow moving bass.
Burning Fall Buzzbaits
Some professional bass anglers will argue that the post-spawn phase of spring is the best time of year for buzzbaits, and the other half will tell you the fall. No matter what, both times of year bring the similar conditions and buzzbaits are at their peak when fall sets in.
The best part of a buzzbait is how much water you can cover fishing them. You can blast multiple casts at a target and be on to the next one in the same time that you would cast a jig or soft plastic once. This makes the buzzbait a great way to start a fall fishing outing, and quickly determine if that’s the approach bass are looking for.
Burning these baits across the top, in and around weed cover is going to be the high percentage points for a strike. A lot of times the water’s surface is going to tell you whether or not a buzzbait is going to be successful. You should be looking for a slight ripple on the water, and/or baitfish popping on the surface. Shad and other baitfish are the primary prey for bass in the fall, so ripping a buzzbait through areas where they are is ideal.
Slow Rolling Swimbaits
This a fall fishing tactic that leverages the tendency of bass to feed heavily on other fish. It is especially designed to target big bass. This technique can be used with surface swimbaits that wake on the surface or sinking/diving swimbaits that get down deep.
In early fall, when water temps are still up, both style swimbaits can be equally effective. If there is a slight ripple on the surface with some decent cloud cover, you should lean more towards the surface presentation. If the water is rougher than a ripple and/or the sun is shining bright, go with the sinking/diving models.
When the temps get really low in the late fall, your best bet is working a sinking soft plastic paddle tail swimbait very slow on the bottom. You should only be reeling fast enough to give the tail some action, that’s it. When the water is cold, this is an ideal and easy to catch meal for a lethargic bass.
Jerkbaits: Reaction Strikes
As Winter starts to turn the corner, and water temperatures are getting down into the 40’s, a jerkbait is one of the few lures that will get a bass to bite. It’s at this point in the season that bass are so inactive that they no longer need to replenish burned energy and are barely feeding. It’s the jerkbait’s ability to get a reaction strike that gives the a bass angler hope in these cold water conditions.
Jerkbaits have always had strong reputation for being cold water baits, making them very effective in early spring, late fall, and even into winter. This goes for both hard and soft jerkbaits. Whichever you use, the idea is to jerk the bait sparingly, letting it stand still for short periods of time. Those still periods should be relative to the water temp; the colder the water, the longer you should make the bait sit still. Finding the ideal action should be done through trial and error.
In extremely cold water conditions, only soft swimbaits should be used. Unweighted, they have a natural slow sink rate that is appealing to bass in these temps. Once they sink to the bottom, they look like a dead or dying minnow laying waiting to get eaten.
A major reason why bass fishing in the fall is so great is because a lot of anglers pack it in this time of year, meaning lakes and ponds get way less fishing pressure. This factor alone is huge for providing good bass fishing action. Not only is it great for catching more bass, it also means less boat traffic and backed up ramps. You’ll also see less pleasure boaters flying around while you’re trying to fish.
If you used to be an angler who put your gear away for winter in the fall, I hope this information has changed your plans this year. If there’s one thing to take away from this page, it’s that having a jig tied on in the fall is a must. If you’re not comfortable fishing a jig then try a tube to start. Either way, make sure you’re out there before the winter sets in and you begin the long wait for spring fishing.