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Harvesting Fall Tactics : Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass

The Fall season, vibrant colors, and brisk air set the stage for a time of transition and slayin’ bass. It’s a period to catch big bass, eat Halloween candy, and stuff your face with a Thanksgiving dinner. As the leaves transition into a vibrant array of reds, oranges, and yellows, the bass goes through a transition of its own and gets fired up. Largemouth and smallmouth bass, fueled by the changing conditions, trigger a behavior change and embark on a feeding frenzy in preparation for the impending winter. 

During the fall, bass move horizontally along a consistent depth. Starting mid to late fall, largemouth bass, which had made shallow bays their home during the summer, begin their journey by transitioning to secondary points before moving on to primary lead-in points. These lead-in points are extensions of the shoreline or submerged structures that create shifts in water depth. They become a magnet to bass and their prey.

Early in the fall, target bass near cover in shallower areas. Shallow structures like boat docks become prime fishing spots as they provide cover for bass and draw baitfish together. Also, river channel bars and ledges are rich in baitfish, making them ideal havens for bass. During warmer periods of the day, largemouth bass tend to move into shallower waters, attracted by pockets of warmth caused by fluctuations in water temperature. Experiment with faster presentations to trigger a reaction bite, as largemouths and smallmouths are still active and eager to take advantage of the abundance of prey. In late fall, when temperatures drop, it is better to transition to slower presentations and explore deeper structures. Accumulating knowledge of specific baitfish in your area and their seasonal movements, especially in the fall, will help you find bass.

Similarly, smallmouth bass don’t fade away as autumn takes hold. Instead, they intensify their feeding efforts, recognizing the impending winter and the need to stock up on food. As fall’s breath cools the waters, smallmouth bass journey from the shallows to the open waters, diving into depths ranging from 10 to 50 feet or deeper depending on their habitat. Their chosen venues include sharp drop-offs, submerged rocks, deep rockpiles, points, ledges, and off-islands—a strategic migration to optimize their hunting grounds. Why this relocation? It’s a pursuit of baitfish like shad and cisco. These underwater nomads, forming vast schools, become the culinary focus for smallmouth bass, a substantial part of their pre-winter diet. For smallmouth bass, rocky structures retain heat and become their preferred haunts.

Largemouth and smallmouth are attuned to the changing conditions, offering an opportunity to partake in the fall harvest. Just as a ninja masters the art of timing and adaptation, navigate the waters with persistence and patience, presenting lures that mirror the seasonal bounty. The bass’s heightened feeding frenzy propels them to diverse locations while following baitfish migrations. As the autumn season takes over and bass undergo their specific transformations, choosing the right bait becomes crucial. Consider using Swimbaits, jerkbaits, topwater baits, crankbaits, shaky heads, and jigs.

During fall, it’s wise to be on the move and cover water, increasing your chances of catching more bass. Experiment with an open mind, blend your theories with tested wisdom and think outside the conventional angler’s box. As you cast your line into the autumnal waters, remember the bass are hungry and are eagerly waiting for you.

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