How to Find and Catch Bass During the Fall
By: Nick Updated: October 28, 2023
Fall can be one of the best times of the year to fish. Bass are much more active as they try to bulk up before winter. Additionally, lakes start to be far less crowded with pleasure boaters putting their boats away due to cooler weather and hunters switching over to deer season. This combination creates great opportunity for anglers that can find them.
Where Bass Go During the Fall
During the fall transition bass begin to school up and chase bait fish in order to bulk up for the winter. The transition begins when nighttime and morning temperatures start to cool off. This generally takes place over a 1-2 month period between September and October, depending where you are in the country.
Since the bass school up so much, this means the majority of fish are all congregated into a small area. This can make them more difficult to find, but once you do, you can catch a lot of fish. So cover water quickly until you find them.
During the fall there will be some bass that move up shallow and some that stay out in deeper water. So no matter which type of fishing you prefer, there will be a population of fish to catch.
How to Find & Catch the Fish that Move Up Shallow
If you like to fish shallower water, head to the backs of coves or pockets. You want to look for fishing blowing up on the surface, ripples on the water, signs of bait fish. If you have electronics you can watch your side imaging for schools of bait fish as you make your way to the back.
At the beginning of fall check the coves/bays closest to the dam first.The pockets closest to the dam are typically the closest to deeper water and where the bass have been hanging out in the summer heat. As fall progresses, they will start moving farther away from the dam.
If your body of water doesn’t have many pockets/coves for bass to push shad into, you want to look for vegetation or cover where bait fish could be trying to hide. This could be grass lines, stumps, man made structures, anything that stands out from the norm.
When fishing shallow try and stay further back than you would in the summer. You want to make longer casts so you don’t spook the bass.
Baits for Catching Shallow Fall Bass
Topwater is great for those shallow water bass. If there is any remaining grass then frogs can be an excellent choice. Again the fall is the time to cover a lot of water so go with a frog with floppy or spinning legs. You want a frog that is meant for casting out and retrieving quickly to cover water.
If your body of water doesn’t have anymore grass then walking baits are my preferred topwater for fall. Again, you want to cover water quickly and search for the schools of bass.
Squarebills are another bait you cant go wrong with for shallow fall bass. They are great for getting through grass, wood, and any cover the bass might have shad pinned up against.
If you can get away with an exposed hook, then an underspin is also great. They produce a lot of flash and vibration which is perfect for mimicking a school of shad.
How to Find & Catch the Fish that Stay Deep
For those of you that like to fish deeper water, the fall can be extremely fun or extremely frustrating. Being out in deeper water means bass will be constantly chasing the bait fish. This means one minute they could be right below you and the next, they are 100 yards away.
Having electronics with side imaging or forward facing sonar can help keep you on those fish a little easier and cut down on the frustration.
Look for long tapering main lake points. Bass will often be right off to the sides. I like to make long casts and grind my crankbaits uphill with very short pauses as it knocks into cover.
Channel swings and bluff walls. You can find these on a contour map by looking for lines really close together. Bass will often sit along the drop offs and push the bait up shallow.
Offshore rock piles along main lake or secondary points. Bass will often hold on rock piles and wait for schools of bait to swim above then ambush them.
Baits for Catching Deep Fall Bass
During the fall the deeper fish will most often be in the 10-20ft depth. Speed cranking is perfect for mimicking those quick moving shad and covering a ton of water. Blade baits are also great for those deeper rock piles.
I recommend having a topwater bait tied on too. There will be times where you are in deep water and all of the sudden bass will start blowing up on the surface around you.
Remember bass are trying to trap and pin the shad for easy feeding. The surface of the water is a blocker that bass can push the shad up against. Being able to quickly switch to a topwater bait in these situations will allow catch you a lot of fish. This can be one of the most fun you will have fishing all year.
The fall is one of the most important times to match the hatch. Pay attention to the size of bait fish the bass are chasing and adjust your lures accordingly.