Fall is one of my favorite times of the year to be on the water. The bait fish are starting their migration to the backs of creeks and the bass are following. This is a great time to fish shallow. There are still bass on deeper main lake and secondary points but, if given the choice, I am going to chase the active bass in the shallows. Here are 5 techniques I use to put more fish in the boat during fall.
Start at the Top
During the morning and when there is some wind I throw a 1/2oz buzzbait. I use a skirt that is light colored on bottom and dark on top so I can rotate the skirt to change the color that the fish is seeing. Bass tend to favor dark or light buzzbaits from day to day and this skirt saves time when figuring out what the fish want. A 7′ medium rod produces a better hook up ratio and 15lb fluorocarbon is a good line choice. My main focus is to cover a lot of water. The heavier bait allows for long casts. I target any irregularity on the bank. Lay downs, shallow rock piles and docks are great.
A walking bait is a good choice when the water is calm. My favorite is the Strike King Sexy Dawg in the Sexy Shad color. I use a 6’6”medium/heavy rod and a 6.4:1 gear ratio reel spooled with 12lb mono for casting distance. I target the same cover as I did with the
buzzbait, but this is also a great technique for open water. Look for “nervous” shad near the surface and bass breaking the surface. This bite can last all day in the fall. I always keep a walking bait on this time of year because schooling bass can surface at any time.
Throw a Blade
Spinnerbaits are great shad imitating baits. A 1/2 oz. Strike King KVD finesse spinnerbait is my first choice. Sexy shad is a good color choice in slightly stained to clear water. A skirt with some chartreuse is better in dirty water. I throw a spinnerbait on the same rod, reel and line as the buzzbait. This is a great way to cover a lot of water. When fishing a spinnerbait throw past the cover and burn the bait by it. Try to bump in to anything you can. Killing the bait in the strike zone can also be very productive.
Match the Hatch with a Square Bill
Square bill crankbaits may be the best lures for catching fish any time they are shallow. I try to match my Strike King square bills to the size and color of the bait fish. The shad have had all summer to feed so I will usually choose a 1.5 or 2.5 and throw them on a 7′ medium action cranking rod and 6.4:1 reel spooled with 8lb fluorocarbon. If I am seeing very small shad I will throw a 1.0 with a 6’9” medium/light spinning rod and 6-8lb fluorocarbon. Flats in the back of creeks with submerged brush and rock piles are best, but since the fish are actively chasing shad, cover does not have to be present. I crank this bait really fast trying to trigger reaction strikes.
Twitch a Fluke
When fish get a case of lock-jaw during the fall a soft plastic jerk bait is great for getting them in the boat. I throw a Zoom Super Fluke on a 7′ medium spinning rod and 8lb fluorocarbon. When fish turn off in the backs of creeks I will target the closest docks. This is also a great bait when fish are surfacing and won’t hit a topwater. A jerk, jerk, pause, jerk, pause cadence works best. Bright colors produce when the sun is out and watermelon/red is great in low light.
Swim a Jig
A jig is my favorite and the most versatile bait in my boat. A lot of anglers think that a jig only imitates a craw fish. This is far from the truth. One of the most productive techniques for fall is swimming a jig. I use a 3/8 or 1/2 oz. Strike King Hack Attack swim jig with a swimming caffeine shad trailer on 7′ medium/heavy rod with a high speed 7.1:1 reel and 15-20lb fluorocarbon. Docks, rocks, lay downs and brush piles are prime targets. Killing the jig near cover can draw a lot of strikes. I also like to skip a swim jig under shallow docks and let it fall to the bottom. Strikes will come on the fall so watching the line is a must. Bluegill and shad colors work best.
A 3/8 oz. green pumpkin flipping jig is productive all year. I use the same rod, reel and line as I do with the swim jig and fish the same cover. Instead of swimming it I will let the jig fall,
twitch it several times and flip to the next target. When skipping and flipping a jig around docks make sure it is falling on slack line, or it will swing away from the dock and out of the strike zone. When the line jumps or stops falling before it hits bottom swing on ’em and hang on