Written by Andrew Schadegg (Follow on Instagram @andrewschadeggfishing)
Images provided by DonkeyBassCo
1. Topwater – When baitifish start to school up in thick groups or balls, they instinctively move to the surface. This is when a walking bait, popper or even a buzzbait can be very effective.
2. Underspin – This is a bait that should be rigged-up year round on almost any body of water. In the fall or late in the season, it is one of the best baits to mimic a roaming shad or minnow.
3. Jerkbait – This is a fall fishing staple. It’s erratic action and ability to stay in the strike zone, make it a perfect option when the weather gets colder.
4. Craw Baits – Whether you’re fishing a crankbait, jig, tube or craw-style plastic, late fall is the perfect time to imitate a crawdad. Bass will move from feeding primarily on baitfish to craws once the water temp is below 50 degrees.
5. Spinnerbait – When conditions are right in the fall, creating flash is really important. No fall bait is better for that than a spinnerbait.
Get your pumpkin spice lattes and get on the water! Fall is here and it’s one of the best times of the year to catch bass.
In the fall, bass are on the move looking for food, trying to fatten up for the long winter ahead. This time of year bass migrate from the deeper summer areas into the shallows, especially into the backs of creek arms, bays and areas that have concentrations of baitfish.
This is prime time for some great fishing, but you need to use the right tools for the job. So what are the best baits to use to catch bass in the fall?
Topwater for Fall Feeding Bass
When baitfish start to school up in thick groups or balls, they instinctively move to the surface when there are predators underneath. As bass start to attack these schools, you’ll start to see the bait flickering or even jumping out of the water. Sometimes it seems like the water has suddenly been electrified there are so many baitfish jumping around. Many times, you’ll even see bass busting the surface as they grab their meals off the surface.
This is an excellent opportunity to throw a topwater bait. Bass are looking up this time of year, ready to take advantage of the easy opportunities that present themselves. Try fishing a walking bait, something like a Zara Spook or a Strike King Sexy Dawg. If you need something with a smaller baitfish profile, a popping bait like a Rebel Pop-R is also a great choice. When the bass get super aggressive and you want to move more quickly a buzzbait or a Whopper Plopper can put a ton of fish in the boat real quickly.
Underspin to Match Fleeing Baitfish
This is one of those baits (in my opinion) that should be rigged-up year round on almost any body of water. It’s a really simple design with a jig head and some sort of blade, typically a willow-leaf that runs underneath. They come in all sorts of weights from over an ounce, to get down to the bottom quickly and keep it there, to lighter weight finesse styles. Your situation and the conditions will dictate which one is best.
In the fall, something in the 1/4 to 1/2 ounce range is a great start. When bass are up in the mid-depth to shallow range, an underspin has just enough flash and vibration to get their attention. A paddletail swimbait for a trailer is a perfect match. A Keitech in a 3 to 4 inch size is standard, but cater the size to that of the baitfish if you can. Work it in different parts of the water column to see what works best, however slow-rolling right on the bottom is always an excellent technique.
Jerkbait to Stay in the Strike Zone
A jerkbait is a fall fishing staple. It’s almost always in the top list of baits that the best anglers throw this time of year. The reason is simple. It’s erratic, looks like a baitfish and you can keep it in the strike zone for a longer period of time. Many jerkbaits suspend in the water column, so if you have a jerkbait that is the right depth, you can keep that bait right where the baitfish are and the bass are feeding.
This is a good time for a shallow to mid-depth running jerkbait. Something like a Lucky Craft Pointer Minoow or a Staycee 90 is an excellent option. This will cover you if you need something that runs in the 3-5 foot range or down to the 6-10 foot range.
Craw Baits for Late Season Action
Late fall, when the water temps drop below 50 degrees, crawdads start going into overdrive before winter. In many lakes, this is when the bass start to switch from being focused on baitfish like shad or minnows to craws. They’ll start to head into rocky areas or grass flats where the craws are most active.
This means a craw-style bait can be an excellent choice. You might rig up a craw-colored crankbait, tube, jig or a craw plastic rigged for bouncing around the rocks or sliding into the grass. Pay really close attention to the bass after you catch them. Are they spitting up baitfish or craws? What color are the craws? How big are they? These are all factors that will help you dial-in to this pattern in the late fall months.
Spinnerbaits When Fall Conditions are Right
Spinnerbaits have really gone out of style over the last few years, with the bladed jigs, swim jigs and various swimbait combos becoming more popular. However, spinnerbaits can still be extremely effective, especially in the fall. It’s all about the flash. Those blades look like some sort of shiny baitfish flickering in the sunlight and bass can’t resist them.
Work a spinnerbait along the bank, particularly when the sun is high and the wind picks up. The flash and vibration allow the bass to key in on your lure when other reaction baits stop working. If you’re in clearer water, stick to a silver double willow leaf combo. If it’s a little dingier, try something with an Indiana or Colorado blade on it and maybe something with a gold plating.
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