As the summer ends and even the fall seems to have left, many anglers sadly put their boats to sleep. There are few anglers that battle through the cold winds, icy temperatures, sleet, rain and dangerous lake conditions throughout the months of November and December. There are even some anglers that fish the large bodies of water straight through the year targeting both smallmouth and largemouth bass in international waters. Throughout November and early December depending on the year, you have the opportunity to catch a personal best at any time. These fish continue to feed year round however the fall feed is one of the best to catch these fish at their finest and fattest hour.
During this time, you will find fish both in deep and in shallow water. Although shallow water fish are more spread out and lead to a slower day, you should never count them out as they are likely in the shallow in search of food. Catching larger numbers of fish and having a higher likeliness of putting together a ton of quality fish will most definitely come in deeper water. Finding steep drop offs, main lake humps and other deep structure is often the key.
A huge bonus is finding shallow sand and rock flats that are close to deep water. These flats will attract the bass all year around for a number of reasons ranging from water temperatures, frequent larvae hatches, quality bait fish populations and an abundance of crawfish.
When selecting lures to toss, keeping it simple will pay dividends. The most common are tubes, blade baits and soft plastic jerkbaits. Although there are no written rules in fishing, we find smaller baits tend to produce higher quality fish during this time of year. As the fish tend to slow down and become less active, their opportunistic ways shine even more. Slower and smaller meals not only exert less energy for the fish to feed, the fish have the ability to digest these meals faster allowing them to gain even more bulk for the cold and harsh winter ahead of them.
For tubes, we tend to use fish 3-4” and soft plastic jerkbaits in the range of 3-5”. When there are large schools of suspended fish, a small soft plastic jerkbait tend to be the go to bait. From time to time, small deep diving crankbaits worked slowly can tantalize their taste buds. If the schools are close to a drop off or ledge, often dragging a tube to its plummet over the edge will stoke some great bites.
When fishing these harsh conditions, there a number of situations that you need to be prepared for. Not only should you be dressed appropriately, but making sure you have non-expired flares on board is a wise decision. There aren’t many people out there to assist you in an emergency, so taking every precaution is crucial.
As temperatures bounce in and out of freezing, you need to think of the launches your using. Sticking to quality launches and having a bag of salt is a smart idea. Before launching check out your ramp and make sure it’s not iced over. A small amount of ice can cause a real big issue when you’re launching or pulling your boat out. Be careful at all times, stay dry and warm and enjoy your late fall season.
Here are some extra tips for Fall Fishing: