Hot Fall Fishing
By Tom Lester
Old man winter has finally awakened and cooler temperatures are here and holding steady. For quite some time, we fall bass fishermen have been anxiously awaiting a cool down that would in turn lower our lake water temperatures. It's time to go fishing.
Personally, I love fall pattern bass fishing. It is the time of year bass gorge on food getting ready for winter. When they are filling themselves up, I like to be on the water catching them. Generally speaking, if you can find them, they are pretty easy to catch, and catch and catch.
As the water temperatures cool down on our lakes, the shad (one of Mr. Bass' primary dishes) move into the creeks and guess who is following right behind them? That's right, old man bass. Now that we've got them cornered and hemmed up in the creeks, its time put your boat in the water and get ready for some fun.
I generally start out on the points of main creeks. It is a good place to find bass that are moving into the creek or coming out. They will literally "stack up" on the points as they move around to feed on the shad.
My bait of choice on the points is a Norman's crankbait. My overall favorite is the Deep Little N (DLN) in any of the numerous shad colored patterns they have on the market. The Deep Little N crankbait is a medium diving bait that works really well when the fish are suspended off of the points. It is also about the same size as the shad this time of year. It has good action and sound with the built in rattles.
I use 10- to 12-pound CXX P Line year round, when cranking. My friend, Eric Talley of Corsicana, Texas, turned me on to using the smaller lines. I'm glad he did because it has greatly improved my numbers since I switched. The smaller lines allow the bait to dive deeper and have a better action than the larger lines do. If you are like I used to be, using 15- to 20-pound line while fishing a crankbait, try down sizing your line. I bet you catch more bass, like I did.
Once the fish are in a feeding frenzy along the banks of the creek, it's time to pull out the spinnerbaits and jigs. The spinnerbaits work well, and in the right situation, can catch you a lot of fish. Use white spinnerbaits in clear to slightly stained water and chartreuse in off colored to stained water. I prefer a combination of gold and silver Colorado and willowleaf blades. Again, because of its strength, I use P Line in 15- to 20-pound test depending on the amount of cover (trees, logs, rocks, etc.) I'm fishing.
If you're looking for the big guys, whip out a jig. Once you find a part of the creek that is holding fish, pull off of the shoreline and find the main creek channel. This is where the hawgs tend to hang out waiting for that unsuspecting meal to swim by. My favorite is a 3/8-1/2 oz. Bulldog jig. I like the lighter baits because they fall slower, allowing the fish more time to eat them. In clear to stained water, white is my favorite color. It better represents the color of forage than any other color, even though I will use the traditional black/blue, too. Be certain to use a trailer, either a pork rind or one of the soft plastic ones will work fine. It gives the bait more bulk and slows the fall down even more. Pitch the jig up close to large trees, stumps or lay downs and allow it fall slowly beside the cover. Watch your line closely. Often this time of the year, the big fish are suspended off of the bottom. They can pick up your bait and be swimming off with it, and you'll never know it if you're not watching your line. If it starts moving off to the side, set the hook and hang on. It could be the fish of a lifetime.
This is also a great place to use the crankbait. Cast the bait beyond your target and slowly reel it in. When you think the bait is at or near your target area, stop it momentarily to allow the fish that might be sitting there time to strike it, then continue reeling it in. Change the retrieve from time to time to give the fish different looks. It might make a big difference.
Fall and early winter can be a great time to catch large numbers of bass. Keep in mind, however, the danger associated with cool and cold weather outdoor sports. Hypothermia is a silent killer. If you or your fishing partner get wet, find a place to get out of the weather, get dry and get warm. It doesn't have to be below freezing to die of hypothermia. Please be careful.
Until next time, enjoy the outdoors, and take a kid along with you.