Fall Bass As Easy As 1-2-3!
The Fishing Wire – September 9th, 2021 – By: Dr. Jason A. Halfen
Fall is an extraordinary time to be a bass angler. As water temperatures cool from their summer peak, baitfish make predictable changes to their typical locations, and bass – both smallmouth and largemouth alike – respond in kind, following their prey and feeding with urgency. After a long summer that scatters bass across multiple habitats, fall is a time of consolidation, pulling large numbers of fish into more focused locales. At the same time, the bass feeding switch is flipped to “on”, providing anglers with excellent opportunities to catch large numbers of heavyweight fish as the leaves show their first tinges of yellow, crimson and gold. Here are three proven techniques that will put more bass in the boat this fall.
Shallow water becomes far more hospitable to baitfish as surface temperatures begin their downward slide, with prey frequently congregating near hard, shoreline-related cover. Bass, of course, are never far behind, and can be found waiting to ambush baitfish near docks and fallen timber. Surface poppers are an excellent way to draw bass into the open, triggering aggressive strikes and providing anglers with an all-encompassing, entirely visual fishing experience.
Dialing in the proper cadence for working a surface popper can quickly become an exercise in interpreting the bass’ mood as dictated by sky conditions, water temperature and general levels of angling pressure. Sometimes, a hearty “chug” followed by a long pause will be effective, especially when calling bass from long distances. At other times, a nervous skitter across the surface that sprays a little water and leaves a distinct bubble trail is best. When working the bait away from cover in open water, a traditional walk-the-dog retrieve can be quite effective. Experimentation is the key; try several different retrieves, being sure to work strike-provoking pauses into each, until you crack the code.
2: Work deep weed edges with Texas rigs:
Deep weeds that ring the basin are a frequent stopping point for bass as they work their way toward the shallow water buffet. A primary reason that bass will hold here is that deep weeds are often loaded with food, especially young-of-the-year panfish, as summer turns to fall. This readily available food source, coupled with thick green weed growth, will keep bass in a feeding mood in cooling waters.
Large profile flukes are great fall options for Texas Rigging.
While mid-summer anglers often target bass from deep weeds using jigs dressed with soft plastic trailers, fall pulls feeding activity toward deep weed edges. Here, where weed density is reduced, a classic Texas-rigged soft plastic can be fished both efficiently and effectively.
In the fall, I like to present 5” fluke-style minnows on Texas rigs. These slender, larger profile baits seem to trigger more strikes for me than compact craw imitations or creature baits. I build my rigs using 3/0 or 4/0 wide gap hooks.
3: There’s always room for Ned:
Ned Rigs occupy a special place in every bass angler’s bag of tricks, as incredibly reliable partners for putting bass in the boat under tough conditions. A steadily improving bite as the water cools is no reason to put Ned to bed. Indeed, I always have a Ned Rig ready to deploy, as few fish can resist its subtle yet powerful bite triggering capabilities – especially when fished away from cover.
Dr. Jason Halfen is a long-time guide, tournament angler, and specialist in marine electronics. He owns and operates The Technological Angler, dedicated to teaching anglers to leverage hi-tech tools to find and catch more fish.
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