Fall bass fishing takes a little patience, a little skill, and a willingness to do things differently than what you’re used to. When the temperature dips down, the bass slow down, and their habits change – it’s important that you know how to respond.
Using decades of experience paired with plenty of research, I’ve compiled this expert guide explaining everything you need to know about catching bass in the fall.
Top Fall Bass Fishing Tips
If you’re planning on targeting bass this fall, you’ll need some fall bass fishing tactics to keep in your back pocket. It’s important to understand that the change in weather changes the way that bass behave. Let’s talk about that and some actionable steps you can take to improve your chances of catching bass this fall.
Understanding The Weather
The first and most important thing you’ll want to understand about bass is that they’re warm weather fish. Their metabolism slows down when the temperature drops, so their behaviors start to slow as well.
What this means for the angler is that you need to be mindful of their slower metabolism by slowing down your presentation, using smaller lures, and giving more time in between movements on the lure.
If you present the lure too quickly or violently, they might take it as a challenge. During the spring and especially early summer, the bass would likely chase that lure across the pond. When their metabolism slows down, they’re trying to conserve their energy and calories without burning too much, so they’ll wait for something easier to come along.
If you’ve read any of my blog articles, you know I’m one of those anglers who has the same lure in 25 different colors in my tackle box. That’s because I believe color is critically important to the success of your fall bass fishing.
Think about it this way. If I told you that you were doing everything perfectly, but all you needed to change was the color of your lure to catch all the bass in the lake, would you do it?
Of course, you would!
Early bass fishing lures are different from late fall bass fishing lures, and those are different from winter lures. You need to cater to your environment to give yourself the best chance of catching the most bass.
Look around, what colors do you see? Those are the colors you want to use. During the summer, bright neon colors are the best choice. When it’s cloudy (which is common in the fall), you’ll want to use more neutral earthy colors. Water clarity should impact the color of your lure as well.
Doing this prevents the bass from getting spooked and gives you a better chance of catching more.
Where to Fish in the Fall
The next fall bass fishing tip I have is to look into the best locations for fall bass fishing. During the summer, you can find bass almost anywhere in the water but especially near grassy areas, stumps, laydowns, and different structure.
A similar rule applies, but the main difference is that you’ll find the more commonly hiding out along the shoreline. Bass are going to start hugging the shores and especially where creek channels are pouring into larger bodies of water.
This is a time of year where bass are trying to feed as much as possible because they’re bulking up for the cold weather. They’ll spend a lot of time at tributaries because small bait fish like shad and shiners will move down the river and into the larger water.
How to Fish Deeper Waters
One interesting bit of information that I’ve learned from a lot of different anglers over the years is that you can still fish deep water during the fall. In fact, you stand a better chance of catching something now than you did before.
During the summer, small 1-3 pound bass are hanging out all over the place. They’re in the deep, they’re in the shallow, they’re everywhere. Once the weather starts to change, and the temperature starts to dip, they move closer to shore into the shallow water.
The big fish stay where they are because they’re still feeding on larger baitfish out there. As a result, you can go straight for the big bass because the small bass and bluegill won’t be around to take your lure in the clear water.
If you’re fishing with this strategy in mind, you want to change everything completely:
- Go with a larger lure (to scare off any smaller bass)
- Stay away from squarebill cranks and jigs
- Still present, it slowly
- Fish around structure
Here is where you really want to look for things like downed logs or underwater debris. Having a good fish finder for bass is really helpful for this.
Best Fall Bass Fishing Lures
Now let’s talk about the specific lures you’ll want to use. I’ve introduced a few so far, and you’ll see them come up again here. I’ll explain what they are, why you should use them, and why they’re the best fall bass baits.
Lipless crankbaits are the number one choice for fall bass fishing lures. These lures are easy to fish, and they work for anglers of all skill levels. The reason they’re so effective is because of what bass are eating during this time of year.
Remember, they’re feeding on a lot of baitfish to prepare for winter, and they’re doing a lot of that feeding at the point where rivers and streams meet ponds and lakes. How would you possibly end up with a better strategy than this?
The reason I recommend going with a lipless crank is that it can move through vegetation better, and you don’t need the noise or vibration of the lip in this case.
Another fall trend is schooling bass. During this time, the bass start to huddle up and stay together more frequently, and if you see this happening or you see them leaping out of the water a lot, you’ll want to get a soft jerkbait and give it a go.
I recommend going as natural with the color as possible because we want to mimic what’s currently going on in the water. Since you have bass chasing after shad, minnows, and shiners, try your best to get one that shares the same colors. Make sure it has a soft and realistic appearance.
I would still deploy the same strategy as with the crankbaits. Take your jerkbaits to anywhere you can find water running into the body of water you’re fishing. Bass are heavily feeding in these areas, and if you’re serious about fall largemouth bass fishing, you’ll want to hit this area hard.
The main difference between jerkbaits and swimbaits is the presentation. Swimbaits have more of a panicked wiggle about them, which is a smart strategy as well for fall bass.
Remember that bass are opportunistic predators, and they’ll eat whenever they think they can get an easy meal. In the fall, when the temperature starts to drop, and food becomes less abundant, they’ll take any opportunity they can to get an easy meal. I would suggest going with a large swimbait with some sort of red on it to give the appearance of an injured baitfish.
The only thing you’ll want to do a little different with swimbaits is cover water at a faster rate. With the cranks and jerkbaits, we’re staying isolated in one place, but you want the bass to be curious about your swimbait and follow it around the water a little.
A lot of people recommend topwaters, but I want to specifically talk about spinnerbaits here. The reason I suggest these is because I want you to take your fishing to rivers and streams now.
These are the best late fall bass fishing lures because by late fall, when you’re experiencing near freezing temperatures at night, bass have likely retreated to the shallowest area of the water. In many cases, this will be a nearby creek or river that pours into the water. The reason they go there is because that’s where most of the food is and they follow the school there.
Spinnerbaits are popular in small streams and rivers because they create a loud noise in shallow water. Buzzbaits are also a solid choice for this strategy. They’re also great for fall smallmouth bass fishing. By this point, I would recommend casting parallel to the river towards the pond and try to find any areas of stagnant water where a school might be hiding out.
I love fishing frogs no matter what the season is, but I especially enjoy these guys during the fall. They’re great for moving through dense vegetation, they have an awesome presentation, and honestly, they’re addictive to fish.
Frog fishing is popular in the fall because the bass are feeding aggressively in early fall, and if you can find a place on the lake with a lot of pads and grass that coat the surface, you’ve found yourself the perfect place to fish frogs.
Ideally, what you want to look for is a frog lure that is weedless because you’ll be moving through the densest of vegetation on the lake. You also want one that looks as real as possible. Keep in mind that bass don’t really see frog lures as an actual “frog” per se.
Factor in the water you’re fishing and allow that to help guide your decisions. I would suggest sizing down the lure and going with something with a little bit of red on it to mimic an injury.
Expert Fall Bass Fishing Tactics
Here are some of my most popular tips revolving around fall bass fishing.
I’ve talked with a lot of anglers who say their biggest fall fishing problem is getting a proper hook set. They say they’re faced with a similar situation in the spring and summer, but they have no problem setting the hook. Once fall rolls around, they find that bass are a little timider about biting, and that makes it harder to set the hook.
My tip here is one of two things. The first thing I would do is increase the size of your hook. Don’t do it so much that it screws up your presentation, but maybe increase one size and see if that helps. A larger hook will provide more surface area for you to set the hook.
My other tip is to go with soft plastics because they have some give, especially if you’re using a weedless lure.
Pay Attention to Fall Bass Patterns
When you’re fishing outside of season, you need to be more vigilant and pay attention to everything that happens around you. One of the best things you can pay attention to is how the bass are behaving with certain lures.
Something I like to do is talk to other anglers on the water. Don’t be afraid to cruise right up and ask them what they’ve been using and how it’s been working for them. Most people love to talk fishing, and they’ll be more than open to telling you.
Keep that in mind and change up your lure frequently. If you’re getting a lot of nibbles, but nothing is hooking up, it could be your hook like I said previously.
If you’re not seeing any action at all, it likely means your presentation isn’t lining up with what the bass are expecting, or your lure is too big for the time of year.
Take a Medium Action Rod
You don’t want to use a fast action rod because every little movement you make will move the lure around, and that doesn’t always provide the most natural appearance for what you’re trying to do.
On the other hand, you don’t want a slow action rod because bass are a little timid right now, so you need to feel every little nibble. If the rod blank bends too far down, you won’t be able to feel those nibbles.
Fall Bass Fishing FAQs
While cold water slows down the metabolism of the bass, it creates opportunities for bass anglers who aren’t afraid to go the extra mile. I’m a big believer in fishing when a lot of other people don’t want to. That’s a reason why I enjoy fishing in the rain so much. People don’t realize it, but bass feed all year long; you just have to know how to catch them.
In this fall is when the shad migration occurs, so they’ll eat a lot of those and other similar baitfish to bulk up for the winter. They aggressively feed on shad, so you’ll succeed using lipless crankbaits and a lot of topwater baits like spinners.
It’s hard to provide specifics because it depends a lot on your location in the country and also the specific body of water. The temperature of the water will determine how deep the bass go during the fall and winter. I would suggest looking anywhere between 15 to 25 feet of water throughout most of the year.
This question also depends a lot on your location. If you live in a place that experiences all four seasons, you’ll want to fish closer to midday than you’re used to. Bass are most active when water temperatures are around 60 degrees because that’s the temperature they spawn in. As a result, you want to recreate that temperature. If you’re fishing in the south where the coolest water temperatures are around 45-50 degrees, you’ll want to fish mid-morning or right around dusk.
Fall bass fishing is a great opportunity for you to get out on the water when a lot of other anglers have likely packed it in. This fall, don’t be so quick to put away your gear and winterize your boat – there’s still plenty of fishing left out there.