by Rob Edwards –
Fishing in the fall can be both highly rewarding, and highly frustrating, often the difference between these two results can be very small.
First let’s focus on talking about the various types of structure we as bass anglers target, and in doing so I’m often reminded of the kids’ game “rock, paper, scissors”, you know, grass beats rock, but rock beats wood and so on and so on.
This is pretty simple, when fishing grass in the fall, your main objective is to search out “green” or living grass. As the temps drop the weeds begin to wither and die off, along with all the oxygen they provide. Bass tend to hold to or just hold position outside living “green” grass. This serves two purposes… oxygen and cover for ambushing prey.
When fishing grass in the fall, I like to work the 1-2-3 punch of a Jig, a spinner bait, and top water. The Jig I will often fish on the outer edge of the weed and up to 3ft inside the remaining bed. The key here is to downsize from your bulky summer jigs and opt for a slower fall rate. Swim jigs or finesse jigs are great for this presentation.
When fishing a spinnerbait my goal is to cover water, and entice an active bite. I start off by slow-rolling the spinnerbait along/across the weed edge, and then I will fish a larger portion of the bed as long as there is enough water to keep my blades above the weeds, but not so high that it turns into a wake bait. I don’t spend a great deal of time searching the whole bed unless I get a couple early fish… then like most anglers I may be there all day (lol).
Lastly, top-water is a great way to fish weed beds in the fall. To be successful it’s all about the noise… so put away those quiet walking baits and break out the poppers and/or buzz baits.
Buzz baits to me are the quintessential fall top-water bait – they are loud and can be run at various speeds – but they work best in the early to mid-fall while the fish are still fairly active and willing to chase down baits. But as the air and water temps drop, you’re going to want to put them away and break out your favorite popper
I’m more of a visible structure fisherman, so timber and weeds are my first and second priorities when bass fishing. But as the seasons change so must we, and rock points and gravel shoals are a good place to look for fish as the water temps dip.
Many anglers falsely believe that rocks are for smallmouth only. Sure rocks are home for many bruiser smallies, but as the season moves on, you can and will often find largemouth bass cruising rock structure in search of bait fish and because of this I change up my approach slightly by including a medium (to deep) diving crank bait in the mix.
Obviously crank-baits are the ultimate bait fish imitators, so it is important to match the hatch and to use a bait that will get you down deep enough to make contact with the bottom from time to time. Stirring things up is a must and will help ring the dinner bell for these cruising fish.
Top-water would be my second way to tackle rock piles. Like with grass, I find that buzz baits and/or poppers are your best bet, and to be honest I usually stick with poppers over rocks. Don’t ask me why – it just comes down to personal preference.
I left wood for the last because I find it to be the most unpredictable of the three. Wood for the purposes of this article includes submerged timber, floating timber, partially submerged timber and docks.
Why is wood the most unpredictable target in the fall? Because its success relies on the proximity to grass (green) and or rock… so maybe it’s not that unpredictable?
Wood in the fall is not used by bass for the purposes of shade, but for ambushing prey. So when fishing timber or docks in the fall, I’m more apt to focus on the edges and trying to draw out aggressive fish. The best way to do this is (in my opinion) with swim jigs and spinnerbaits.
When flipping docks and timber with a jig, I’m looking for a nice slow fall, to achieve this you can either downsize your jig (1/4oz) or up size your trailer. Fall is also the time of year you are more likely to find me trying out various jig colors. In the summer months, I stick with black, black and black, but in the fall I will start to break out the browns and oranges. Try multiple casts to various points, being sure to make contact with the wood whenever you can.
I will use spinnerbaits in two or three ways. If fishing docks, I’ll run them along both sides of the dock (the entire length of the dock) and I will cast them at a 45 degree angle off the front corners. This gets me a hair under the front lip of the dock to help draw the attention of any fish that may be holding a bit deeper in. When fishing a spinnerbait on submerged timber the key is to cover all sides of the timber and bang into and off of it as much as possible.
Remember both timber and docks can bring you success in the fall, but you need to be aware of your surroundings. If there is no live vegetation nearby, there will be no bait fish and no reason for the bass to use this timber as an ambush point.
To wrap it up: Grass beats Rock, Rock beats Timber and a day on the water beats pretty much anything else!
About Rob Edwards
Rob has been fishing most of his life but began considering himself a diehard angler at the age 18. Rob spends all 12 months of the year chasing down various species with four of those months doing some on the ice. “From December through March I get on the ice as much as I possibly can, and once the ice is gone I move over to soft water crappie fishing and finally to bass when the season opens in Ontario in late June.”
Rob began getting his feet wet in tournament angling by initially fishing single events as a replacement angler (filling in for guys who had to drop out for one reason or another). In his second ever event, he fished to a second place finish and cashed “the big fish check.” Since 2011 Rob has been fishing tournaments on a more regular basis splitting time between BBTS, Quinte Bass Champs as well as Top Bass.
You can follow Rob on the following boards including his blog “BassJunies Fishing Addiction”
Visit Rob on Facebook.
*This article originally appeared in NationalProStaff.com