I actually begin fishing a fall pattern when the water has cooled 10 degrees below its hottest point of the summer. This can vary greatly from body of water to body of water. A rapid temperature drop is best, for this can really put bass on the move from deep main river structure to shallow water. Bass react to cooling water by moving shallower to big flats, long points with a gradual taper and tributary arms.
As surely as the seasons change, the behavior and location of bass change as summer passes into fall and fall into winter. Unfortunately, the exact changes the bass makes often seems as unpredictable as the fall weather.
Bass are more baitfish oriented now than in any other season. Look for large schools of shad, alewives, etc., on your graph. In most reservoirs, fishing a fall pattern as cooling water causes vast numbers of shad to migrate into tributary arms, and bass are close behind. Follow this migration by fishing the first third of creek arms in early fall, then gradually pressing farther back into the tributary as the surface temperature drops. I’ll often idle my boat up a creek arm, watching my graph for suspended shad schools or looking for bait flipping on the surface. Isolated wood cover or boat docks in the backs of creek arms are dependable fall bass patterns. In lakes that don’t have shad, bass feed heavily on bluegill and shiners, both grass-oriented species, so target weedy areas that still have living green weeds.
A large number of the fish relate to backwaters as well as main lake areas during the summer. From the first signs of the fall cooling trend, main river fast water fish begin a gradual move toward areas with limited current.
Identifying these reduced current areas is usually pretty simple. Look for the bass to move to big cuts on the main river, cuts and coves in the bigger creeks, and slack water ponds off the main current area.
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