Fall is a favorite time for many to hit their local trout stream or start targeting steelhead, but there are still plenty of bass to be caught!
Bass fishing can be a year-round endeavor for the hardy anglers that target them. The fish will transition from their summer hangouts to new areas though, so knowing where to look and what to look for is a great start to finding success in fall! All of the benefits of fall trout fishing are still there when bass fishing, from the fantastic scenery to hungry fish looking to pack on weight before winter, so they should still be on the minds of any serious angler looking to get their fix a little more before the cold sets in.
Follow The Baitfish
Bass are slaves to their stomachs, and as such they’ll go where the food is! As the water starts to cool and baitfish transition away from creek mouths and back into woody structure or deep pools, the bass will follow. When you’re out on the water be mindful of where you see those schools of chubs or shiners and it’s a pretty safe bet that the bass won’t be far away. This is especially true when water temperatures start to really drop in late fall and the forage fish start preparing for the long winter ahead by finding those deeper pools and structure that they’ll use for the next several months.
Fish Deep and Slow
For the most part, anglers are well-served to shift their focus towards the deeper sections of a river where the forage fish congregate once the water cools. When fishing these areas, it can help to have a sink-tip line and weighted fly. Retrieves will want to be varied, but in general a slower retrieve will work well when the bass are a little more sluggish compared to the warmer months. They aren’t unlike trout in this respect where they’ll be a little less willing to move several feet to eat a fly, so fishing slower and more methodically is a good tactic for those fall fish!
Keep Fishing Topwater
Despite many bass moving into the deeper portions of waterways in late fall, there will still be a few hanging around in the shallows looking for a meal. On warmer days when the water can heat up a few degrees, bass will patrol their old summer haunts looking for forage fish basking in the sun or the odd frog or two that is still out in the lily pads. A great way to fish topwater patterns is right on those transition zones where a stretch of shallows drops down into a deep weed bed or woody structure that creates a hole. Bass might be a little less willing to hammer something on top though, so retrieve a frog or popper a little slower now compared to a few months ago when the fish are actively tracking down and attacking anything in sight!
Bass change with the seasons just like every other animal, and much of it has to do with where their food is. When the forage fish adjust, the bass adjust with them and anglers who notice these patterns will find a ton of success during the fall months. Many focus on bass during summer when trout streams warm to unsafe levels, but a little taste of bass action in October and early November can be enough to convert anyone to the excitement of fall bass fishing!