Fall can be a sneaky tough time of year to catch bass. Most of the articles you read online describe it as a hot time because of how many aggressive bass there are. While this is true, finding them is a little harder than you might think because, unlike Spring, Summer, and Winter, there really isn’t anything to predetermine how deep bass will be or in what part of the lake they’ll be. The search can be a challenge, but here are four places to start.
1. Backs of Creeks
The most textbook place to find fall bass is in the backs of major creeks. As temperatures cool and the days get shorter, the migration from summer areas to shallow creeks and flats is the most talked about element of fall fishing. Large numbers of bass will move into and to the back of creeks in pursuit of shad.
Start your search with the biggest creeks on the lake and focus on anything of interest in the back of them. Shallow flat areas will often have roamers, particularly if you get cloudy conditions. Bright sun makes shallow bass more cover-oriented, so target any and all shallow cover should it shine.
This is the time to keep an eye out for surface activity. If you’ve hit on a good area, you’ll often know pretty quickly when you see shad activity on the surface, especially in shallow reservoirs. In best case scenarios, you’ll see bass blowing up on these shad. Use your instincts and focus on visual cues. Fish are very active this time of year so if it seems dead, it probably is.
2. Rip Rap
Rip rap, which is just the man-made rock that you find around bridges, is unique because it holds fish basically all year. The rocks are teeming with all kinds of baitfish and crawdads and the banks are typically steep providing access to deep water. Rip rap can be especially good in the fall as a result of the aggressive bass you get this time of year.
Bridges in particular are popular feeding spots for bass because they form funnels where baitfish can be picked off. The rocky corners form great ambush points and current coming through the bridge, via wind or artificial generation, only makes them even better, and crankbaits can be super effective in these scenarios. Make short casts and fish slow to avoid hang ups in the rocks.
3. Main Lake Flats
Main lake flats are popular gathering places for feeding bass at many times of year, fall definitely being one of them. The fall migration is a big part of bass behavior in the season, but nowhere near all the fish in a lake will do that. Many can still be caught on the main lake.
Much like schools in the summertime, fish showing up on these places can be somewhat random as the prevalence of baitfish is the key to the presence of bass. But when you do find fish, you’ll often find the motherlode. Oftentimes, you won’t even have to explore that much to find fish in these areas because you’ll see them chasing bait and breaking the surface, which can create some incredible topwater action.
4. Exactly Where They Were in the Summer
It’s a major misconception that you have to fish shallow in the fall. It’s just not true. When the cold weather starts to arrive, two key things happen. First, the thermocline dissolves. Second, the gradational change in temperature throughout the water column disappears, meaning the temperature at 20 feet is about the same as the temperature at 2 feet. This really opens up the entire water column to bass that were previously pretty easy to pin down depth-wise just a few months ago.
So as long as there is food in the area, bass really have no reason why they have to move shallow or away from the main lake. I’ve personally caught more fall bass in deep water than shallow, sometimes even deeper than I was catching them in the summer and often in the exact same areas.