Jacksonville Daily Progress
Fall will officially begin in three weeks. Fall fishing is not always predictable because it's a transitional time for bass. It's like a mystery you have to solve. Solving a mystery takes time.
The weather plays a big part in where and how you fish. With unseasonably warm weather the bass can still be anywhere from shallow to deep.
Every lake, big and small, has its own unique features. If I were fishing Lake Fork in early fall I probably would target the mouth of a big creek. Bass will be following the shad, so I would begin looking for a creek that comes close to a timber line in the mouth of a major cove. It's a place to start.
Almost everyone knows that when the surface temperatures begin to drop more and more the shad tend to migrate up the creek. To find the bass I would simply begin at the mouth of a creek and work my way towards the back. I would keep my eyes on my electronics and scan the surface looking for signs of shad.
When you locate big schools of shad — be it midways or in the very back of the creek — you will find bass near by.
It you're fishing a much smaller lake you will probably have to do a lot of searching. It's always a process of elimination. You may have to fish points, ridges, humps, etc. And any cover you find, be it grass, lay-downs or rock piles.
Remember that bass are in transition, and you have to keep moving around a lot until you either locate the bait fish or develop a pattern. One day the bass may be deep, and the next day you may discover that bass are holding in about five feet around boat houses or other cover.
What always surprises me is how quickly the surface temperatures begins to drop after the first few fronts we experience inSeptember. Surface temperatures can dramatically drop in a few weeks from 96 degrees to 80 degrees. That's a significant drop. This sudden drop causes the bait fish to start migrating up the creeks.
Bass will sometimes surprise you. Last week I was fishing a small, dingy lake and found some bass in water less than one foot deep. Go figure!
A couple of years ago I was fishing in Lake Jacksonville about the third week in September and found lots of bass located at the end of the piers that were in 5 to 7 feet of water. When bass move shallow in the fall it's hard to beat a shallow, square bill, shad crank bait. I always have crank baits tied on in the fall.
On lakes that are silted in and don't have very defined creeks, I have good luck targeting main lake points and pockets. By October you should be able to locate bass with a shallow crank bait. At times I have launched my boat at the dam on Lake Palestine and start cranking my way up the lake until I locate a school of bass.
By October you should be able to locate plenty of bass in water 5 to 10 feet deep or shallower. I've always had good luck fishing a crank bait in about 5 feet of water.
Fall is like spring in reverse. In the spring a lot of bass will move up to the first drop off from the bank that's in 5 feet. The fall season is no different. I fish the first drop off a lot. It may take you all day to pattern the fish once fall begins, but once you determine the right depth and cover the bass are relating to, you will have solved the mystery of fall fishing.