Wherever you roam
Admit that the waters
Around you have grown
Accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'”
~ Bob Dylan
In most parts of the country, we anglers have grown comfortable with our summertime bass fishing. If you’re an offshore guy, you have all your waypoints, ledges, and schools located and saved. Us shallow water guys know which grass beds, laydowns, and areas are the most productive. But, as the great bassin’ genius, Bob Dylan, once said; the times they are a changin’. So, as we don our favorite hoodie and brew our pumpkin spiced latte, let’s gather our thoughts and re-learn how to approach our body of water during this transition period.
The key word that surrounds this transition period is ‘BAITFISH’! And, for good reason. The baitfish are having to adjust to quickly changing water conditions, the two primary changes being water temperature and oxygen levels. Pair this with a bass’ natural instinct of knowing that winter is coming, and the bass are going to be close behind their food source so that they can feed up for the colder months.
The dissipation of a thermocline in the lake and the cooling water temperatures are going to push baitfish into the upper level of the water column and to hard, shallow structure in search of the most oxygen rich water and cozy sunshine. The bait that tends to home in deeper water on offshore ledges and humps during the summer months are going to find new areas to congregate around steep sloping banks, points, and creek channel swings. Shallower baitfish are going to make themselves comfortable around areas with flowing, oxygen rich water in the backs of creeks; and, if grass is the predominant cover in your lake, the thickest, healthiest, greenest patches of grass are going to draw the entire food chain.
I can summarize fall fishing into the simple piece of advice, “cover water ‘til you find ‘em”. When there is an ideal area that holds all the ingredients desired by baitfish and their predators, it will tend to hold large congregations leaving a lot of dead water for us anglers to eliminate. For my personal favorite baits to use during this time, check out the video below!