Written by Andrew Schadegg
Fishing in the fall can be fast and furious. Baitfish school up, moving into the backs of coves and up onto shallow flats and the bass move up with them. This is the time of year that feeding frenzies can happen in a flash, but you have to be able to cover a lot of water to find those active pockets of fish.
Though this time of year can be wide open, with a lot of presentations being effective, here are three techniques that will let you move quickly and cover water to find those productive schools.
By far, one of the most effective techniques for fall fishing is the lipless crankbait. As balls of baitfish move around, making as many casts as possible and moving down the bank is a big advantage.
Try different retrieves to see what is working best on any given day. Many times, a really fast retrieve triggers vicious strikes, as aggressive fish react to what looks like a fleeing baitfish that’s strayed from the pack. If that’s not the key, try a yo-yo retrieve, letting it flutter down and then using your rod tip to rip it back up off the bottom, imitating a dying baitfish.
One of the hottest baits in bass fishing right now is the soft plastic paddle-tail swimbait, like the Strike King Rage Swimmer. It is super effective year round, but it really shines in the fall, imitating a shad or other forage.
A slow, straight retrieve is always effective, right along the bottom, bumping rocks, stumps, and other structure. There are a ton of versatile ways to rig this bait including on an underspin, an Alabama Rig, on a swing head jig or just a straight swimbait head. Playing around with different presentations is a great strategy in the fall.
If you want to get down on the bottom with more erratic action than a lipless crankbait, a regular squarebill or mid-depth diving crankbait is a perfect choice. The LIVETARGET Yearling Crankbait was in the Bass XL box this month and it was designed to “Match-the-Hatch” of a small ball of baitfish.
Deflecting a crankbait off the bottom, underneath those bait schools, can be an excellent way to catch the biggest bass in the area. Many times, the bigger fish will sit on the bottom waiting for the smaller bass to bust through the bait and do the work. A stop and go retrieve can be a great way to get more bites.
Switch off between these three presentations this fall and you can land a ton of bait chasing bass.