By: Capt. Mike Gerry
As the water temperature drops down to the fall fishing temperatures between 55 and 70 degrees its time to understand the patterns that develop and the keys that drive the bass to the shallows. As always timing is everything and when bass begin to get a sense that the fall is near they move to the bait and feed up for the cold temperatures of winter.
The first key to the fall bite is a quick change in water temperature, if you see from your electronics that there has been 10 to 15 degrees of water temperature change it can mean the start of the fall bite. Bass change their habits when we see rapid change in water temperature and head to the shallow water to start the process of feeding up for the winter months. Their targets are driven by many factors but one that is consistent is bait movement as the bait move so do the bass. The first place the bait makes stops as they migrate to the backs of creeks are long points, flats with cover like scattered grass the ends of creeks that meet quick depth change and the entrance of creeks to the main body of water. These are all targets for the bait and hence stopping points for the bass.
Bass now become extremely bait fish aware; its time to scan with your Lowrance sonar looking for big schools of bait stretched along the drops and edges of the creeks and flats. Bass are more bait fish aware than any other time of year as cooling temperatures brings out their instinct to feed up for the cold of winter. As the fall progresses the bass become more structure-oriented making moves from those stopping points to the shallow water, backs of creeks and hard bottom flats or stump fields in shallow water.
Baitfish start to suspend off the bottom and gather up in big groups for protection, so keep your bait in the strike zone off the bottom and near the top of the bait fish balls. It’s a known fact that bass generally feed upward so being at or near the top of the bait balls puts you in the strike zone. Reaction is key so fish reaction baits and you will have a successful fall.