Each year on Thanksgiving, we gather with friends and families and say what we are thankful for. Of course we also stuff our faces with food each fall. Bass are no different, as late fall is when they feed like no other time of year in anticipation of the upcoming winter. This time of year is one of the best times to get out on the water to catch big bass and, surprisingly, they can be very aggressive to lures many anglers overlook. The following are five techniques that I use to catch big late fall bass.
I remember watching a Bassmaster event on TV several years back and one of the tournament leaders was using a buzzbait and it was snowing! It was on Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and that really opened my eyes to trying these baits when the water is cold. I have used buzzbaits with water temperatures in the low 50s (Fahrenheit) with great success. The biggest key is to slowly reel it so it is just barely gurgling on the surface. The bass must be able to sense the upcoming winter because they have no problem attacking buzzbaits in the late fall.
Another key bait for me this time of year are wake baits. They are much more subtle than a buzzbait, but they work great. Even though they are just below the surface, the fish will definitely come to the surface for them in the colder months. Two of my favorites are a Bomber Long “A” and a Mimic Lures Surf Dancer.
Waking a Spinnerbait
Along the same lines as the buzzbait and wake bait is a spinnerbait waked just below the surface. Many anglers fish spinnerbaits deep down with a slow-roll retrieve this time of year, but late fall is an even better time to wake them just below the surface. The key to doing this is to upsize your blades to keep it high in the water and also create a bigger wake on the surface. I also prefer to use a 3/8-ounce model with #4 or #5 Indiana blades to allow me to reel it slowly while keeping the bait up in the water column. The Indiana blades seem to wake much better than Willow or Colorado blades in my experience.
Where to Throw Them
These three baits are fairly similar in that they are all close to the surface. I like to fish them on steep banks that are leading out from the backs of creeks. These first major steep banks or the first channel swing are key areas that gather baitfish and bass. The same is true of long sloping points, as long as they are fairly close to the back of the creek.
Fishing shallow docks, I like to use a Zoom trick worm on the surface. This is a very popular spring and summer technique for docks, but I think many people overlook it in the colder months. Like the buzzbait in the cold, I found out about the floating worm pattern by watching a Bassmaster tournament on TV. It was Davy Hite fishing Lake Murray in South Carolina late in the year with a bright bubble gum colored trick worm. One thing I have found is to let it sink down more than normal and then twitch it up to the surface with a slow action.
When fishing deeper docks I will also using a crankbait, especially around floating docks. This time of year, many bass will suspend under docks and a crankbait is a good way to catch them. Everything you hear about crankbaits is to have it make contact with the bottom or some object, but this time of year they are excellent for suspending bass. If the dock is in 15 to 20 feet of water, I may use a crankbait like a Norman Deep Little N that dives 8 to 10 feet or so. One of the best times to use this technique is right after the first big cold front as many bass will begin to move deeper and will suspend before finding their winter locations.
Late fall is one of my favorite times of year. It is great to spend time with family and enjoy the holidays, but it is also a great time to load up on big bass as they feed for the winter. I can’t think of a better way to work off all that turkey by reeling in big bass. There is nothing better than a fall feast.