Progress staff reports
Jacksonville Daily Progress
Fall is a favorite time of year for all outdoor enthusiasts. It’s a time of transition – summer is fading along with the hot muggy days. It’s a time of change. Lower water temperatures impact bass location and behavior. By mid-March you often see surface temperatures drop to 80 degrees and lower. We’re already seeing cold fronts move through our area on a weekly basis.
Shorter days bring cooler nights. This will affect both the air and lake surface temperatures. I’ve been told that when surface temperatures drop to the lower 70s that bass become very active.
Fall rains also lower the lake temperatures in a hurry. If rain persists for several days, the entire lake can undergo a rapid temperature drop. In short, you can expect to see surface temperatures drop faster than most people are aware of.
Surface temperatures can be deceiving. During a severe cold front, say in October, air temperatures could drop 42 degrees and the surface temperatures from 70 to 63 degrees. If you were to drop a thermometer down a few feet you would find the temperature surprisingly warmer. Also remember that clear lakes can be slower to cool in fall than murky ones.
Bass often move shallower as the water cools off even when the water turns muddy. I’ve found bass stacked in creek arms that were cold and muddy after a heavy rain.
At the initial stages of the fall cool-down, large bass are more susceptible to being caught. When big bass first move from deep structure to nearby shallow coves they will feed heavy. So it pays to check out good shoreline cover close to deep water structure.
Most fishermen think that bass are always aggressive in the fall, but that is often not the base. If you aren’t being successful with a fast approach you need to slow down and saturate isolated cover with a jig or worm.
The same is true with lure choice. If you aren’t getting results on shad imitator baits such as a white spinner or a silver crank bait, try a crawfish pattern.
If you’re wondering where to start first you may want to try banks, coves and creek arms facing north. This is the first place to cool off in fall, and fish are likely to be shallow here than anywhere else.
I always have a spoon tied on in the fall. On lakes like Lake Palestine you could run into bass along with packs of stripers. A spoon can catch these bass near the surface and down deeper.
One last tip: if you were catching bass in a shallow creek arm, but a fall cold front has given them lock jaw, be sure to check the creek area again in late afternoon because the sun has had time to warm the water and make fish active again. You simply have to adjust to whatever conditions you are facing that day.
Jerry Miller can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org