School On Fall Bass
By: Scott M. Petersen

It has been said many times that the fall season is big bass time and simply put I would have to agree. Fall is the first time since the spring spawn that you will see big bass in the shallows as they move in from their summer deep water homes. The reason they are here is also a simple fact and that is to feed and get ready for the winter. So if you are up to some of the best bass fishing of all year then school on fall bass is in session.

Fishing in the fall can be tough to handle comfort wise so my rule of thumb is dress warm. Always take more cloths than is needed as you can away take off cloths if you get hot, but you can’t put them on if you do not have them when you get cold. You will be amazed at the difference a 10mph wind will make when you are on the lake and holding onto a rod. When it comes to bass location during the fall and into early ice green weeds will be key. Deep green weeds will be the attraction as the shallower weeds start to die; the main reason for this is they give off oxygen. As weeds die they give off carbon dioxide, while on the other hand green weeds that are still living will be giving off oxygen. This little fact will keep the plankton and small organisms alive, which in turn will attract baitfish, and they will attract the game fish as well. Bass will make some movements to the shallows to feed during the fall time but these movements will be short in duration and they will not stay in these areas to live or hold when they are not feeding. So to put the most odds in your favor look for deep green weeds.

Finding green weeds will be key to holding schools of fall bass but also look for these variations that will add to the attraction power. Steep drops, green weeds that are on a drop off will attract more bass than weeds that are on slow taper areas to deep water. It seems that the steeper the break towards deep water the more bass these areas will attract and hold. Inside corners or inside bends in the weedline. Inside corners of points offer steeper breaks and pocket for bass to get into and hold. Again the steeper these breaks are the better they will be at attracting fall bass. One of the best ways to look for these areas is to get a lake map and target these areas before you even get to the water. Once you hit the water take these areas one by one and check to see what they have to offer and the main ingredient see what condition the weeds are in. If the weeds are dying and not green keep moving and check other locations but if the weeds are green take the time to check and fish the area well.

When it comes to baits you will have a few presentation options as to what will catch bass at this time of the year. Some of these options will be standard choices as they have been for years but a few baits may be somewhat of a surprise.

Crankbaits – This may be somewhat one of the surprise baits as you have been told for years that once the water temp gets below the 60 degree mark it is time to put your cranks away. Let it be known this is far from the truth. Crankbaits will catch more than 50% of the bass that I take during the fall time. The key when fishing crankbaits in the fall is to make the bait have contact with the weeds. If you are not making contact with the weeds you will not be catching bass it is that simple. Position your boat parallel to the weeds so you can cast to the edge of the weeds and start your retrieve. All you want to do with your bait is tick the weeds on the way back to the boat. If you cast to far into the weed edge your bait will get buried into the weeds and this will be a wasted cast. If by chance you get the bait into the weeds try to break the bait free by giving the rod a pull and start the bait back on its way. If this works and you break the bait free from the weeds pay attention, as this is when the majority of the bass will hit. If you make a cast that is too short and do not hit the weeds you can consider this is a wasted cast also. It is critical that your bait makes contact with the weed. Crankbaits that work best are Storms Magnum Wiggle Warts. Rapala DT-10 and DT-16, Mann’s 20+ and Yozuri’s Crank and Dive.

Spinnerbaits – The bigger the spinnerbait the better, 3/4oz and 1oz single colorado blade baits are good choices at this time of the year. Cast the bait to the edge of the weeds and let the bait flutter down the outside edge of the weeds. Pay attention, as bass will hit the bait the majority of the time when the bait is falling. If your bait makes it to the bottom than you can either slow roll the bait back to the boat or you use a lift and drop retrieve back to the boat. Another presentation is to cast in front of the boat and let the bait flutter to the bottom and slow roll or hop the bait back to the boat. This way you will be fishing parallel to the weeds and the bait will be at the base of the weeds and in the strike zone longer.

Jig-n-Pig - This is the old standard when it comes to fall bass and it is still in a class of its own. When the bass are off you can always catch bass with a jig-n-pig presentation. 3/8oz and _oz baits will fill all your needs for fall fishing. One of the biggest changes that has happened is what to tip your bait with or the pig part of the bait. In the last few years plastic trailers have made big strides and to tell you the truth we have found that a plastic trailer is better than the standards pork trailer. A lot of this has to do with the hassle free fishing that a plastic trailer has to offer and the baits that are now coming with bass catching scent that has enhanced the attracting power of the bait as well. Mister Twister 3.5” Craw Chunk gets top billing for scented chunks and Zoom Super Chunk for non-scented chucks. Craw trailers will give your bait a different look as so will grub tails. All of these are great ways to tip your jig when it comes to fall fishing. The best advice I can give you when it comes to trailers is experiment and let the bass tell you what they want. Change trailers until you get the bites, let the bass be the judge.

Tubes – Oversized tubes have been some of the best bass catchers that we have been fishing as bass fisherman for the last few years. The new crawtube that is on the market by Big Bite Baits is no different, in fact if I had to pick one of the hottest bass baits in 2002 it would have to be this bait. Rigged texas style once bass pick up the bait they do not let go. I think it is because when they bite down on the bait they feel the bait compress down which feels natural to them thus causing them to hold onto the bait longer. Looking at the fall fishing so far I would have to say that the crawtube has outfished the jig-n-pig presentation and even caught bigger bass at the same time. Fish the tubecraw just like you do your jig-n-pig presentation. These two baits compliment each other and the crawtube is fast becoming one of my fall standards.

As you can see there is still some bass catching to be dealt with this year. Deep green weeds on breaks will be the top attraction to schools of bass at this time of the year. The steeper the break the better attracting power it will have to fall bass. So if it is big bass you are looking for grab a few baits and hit your favorite lake because school on fall bass is in session.

Please remember to practice CPR (Catch, Photo and Release) The future of fishing is in your hands.

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