Bass Fishing Gear

Shallow Water Bassin' for Fast Fall Action

Fall fishing
Shallow running crankbaits are hard to beat for action when the fish are feeding.

September through November on Lake Fork and other impoundments with good shad populations consistently produce some of the fastest action of the year. While spring bassin' yields more trophy bass, the number of bass caught daily is usually at its zenith in the fall.

While deepwater produces a lot of good fish in the fall, I typically focus on the shallows early and late each day and stay shallow all day if the weather is breezy or cloudy. Bass key on shad in the fall, and they'll follow these baitfish to the very backs of creeks. Typically, the bass will be nearby if you find areas with many baitfish. Bass move daily following the concentrations of shad and fish, so your best fishing areas will change regularly throughout the fall. Essentially, I cover lots of water with moving baits until I start getting bit, then slow down and thoroughly work the area over, trying multiple baits once a school is located. Most bass key on small 1.5- to 4-inch threadfin shad on Fork in the fall, so I mainly use smaller baits, even when fishing for big bass.

For locating fish fast, spinnerbaits, topwaters, swimbaits, and crankbaits work best. Choose shad color schemes, primarily whites and chromes, and work these baits fast with erratic stop and go retrieves to trigger strikes from active fish. ¼ and 3/8-ounce spinnerbaits with white or chartreuse and white skirts and tandem silver willow leaf blades work well for me. For topwaters, small poppers worked quickly across the top with a spitting action or steadily walking small Zara Spooks, or Sammys deliver some exciting strikes. Around wood cover or over the tops of the grass, chrome ¼- to ½-ounce lipless crankbaits and shad colored crankbaits that run 8 feet or less work great. I'll start with a wide wobbling crankbait in the early fall, then go to a more subtle crankbait with a tighter wiggle in the later fall as the water cools. My latest favorite is Lake Fork Tackle's new Live Magic Shad in the 3.5- or 4.5-inch version. Rigged on a wide gap hook with a small 1/16th ounce weight, I swim over grass flats, occasionally dropping my bait into holes in the grass. These baits will produce lots of fish and catch some of the biggest fish in the fall.

Fall fishing
Fall's fast action is a great time introducing new anglers to fishing.

Once a school is located with moving baits and the action slows, switch to soft plastics, and you'll likely catch more fish from the same area, possibly a lot more. My favorite soft plastic rigs for the fall are wacky-rigs and weightless soft plastic jerkbaits. For the wacky rig, I use a watermelon Twitch Worm on sunny days and a June bug colored one on cloudy days, rigged on 10- to 15lb fluorocarbon line with a small weight inserted into the worm. My favorite soft plastic jerkbait for the fall is a Magic Shad rigged weightless Texas-style in either the "Magic Shad" or watermelon/red flake color. Some days the bass will chase these as they are steadily twitched over the grass, while other times, you'll do best by twitching your bait a couple of times and then letting it fall to the bottom. A shaky head worm or a light Carolina rig will also do well in areas with lots of stumps and little grass or along the inside and outside weedlines. For the shaky head worm, I use Lake Fork Tackle's 1/8 ounce Screw-Ball jig head with a watermelon or green pumpkin twitch worm and drag or hop it along the shallows with 8- to 10-pound fluorocarbon line. My light Carolina rig consists of a ¼ ounce sinker rigged 12- to 18-inches above a Magic Shad, Twitch Worm, or Baby Fork Creature. Slowly fish this along the edge of the grass on points with 12- to 15lb fluorocarbon, and you'll consistently put big fish in the boat on the toughest of days. Finally, for lunker bass in the shallows during the fall, pitch ½ ounce Mega Weight jigs to heavy timber along creek channels in the back ½ of creeks. I like Blue Bruiser colored jigs on cloudy days and watermelon jigs on sunny days, trimmed with a matching Lake Fork Craw trailer. Key on stumps and laydowns in the bends of creek channels and make multiple pitches to each piece of wood.

While your buddies leave for the woods to go hunting this fall, head to the shallows on Lake Fork, and you'll likely have a day to remember. Here's hoping you catch the lunker of your dreams.