This is the time of year when a lot of Elite anglers shift our attention to hunting. I do a lot of deer and duck hunting, but I know that there’s also a lot of good fishing this time of year.
Those fish are feeding up for winter as we get close to the cold times of the year — some parts of the country are already there. That’s what can make the fall such a fun time to fish, and if you can figure out exactly where they’re feeding, you’ll have a pretty good day.
I typically take a three-pronged approach to fall fishing, and it’s all based on the waters I’m fishing and the water temperature. I may have to try a couple different scenarios in order to dial in what the fish are doing on any given day, but I can usually find them with one of these approaches.
First is a Booyah Hard Knocker lipless bait. I’ll fish this in the backs of creeks because a lot of the fish that have not moved out deep will still be feeding on shad in shallow areas.
I think the biggest thing to remember here is that if you find shallow fish that are around bait schools, you want to use a shad color. If you don’t see them chasing shad or you don’t see schools of bait, but you’re still getting some bites up shallow, then I’m usually going to go to more of a crawdad color.
You should also check what the fish are eating. You’ll often find regurgitated meals in your livewell, but they’ll also spit up shad or crawfish next to the boat. Find out what they’re eating that day, and you’ll have the best insight possible into color selection.
It’s kind of a continuation of the basic fall pattern. Some lakes in certain parts of the country may still be warm, but in some lakes, not all of the fish go out deep this time of year. Unless I know for sure that the offshore bite is dominant, I like to start in the backs of creeks and then work my way out as needed.
Offshore, one of my favorite ways to catch them is on a football jig with a YUM Craw Chunk. I just want something small, but I still like to have action. That Craw Chunk has good action in the legs, and that’s important because I’m going to drag that jig slowly. Basically, I depend on a trailer with lots of natural motion to put forth an enticing display when that jig falls over rocks and cover.
Now, even though umbrella rigs are not allowed in Bassmaster Elite events, this is a very productive option for a lot of lakes in the fall. For fun fishing, I’d throw a YUM Flash Mob Jr. Rig with 3 1/2-inch YUM Pulse Jr. swimbaits on 1/16- to 1/2-ounce heads, depending on the depth in which I need to keep the rig.
In some of the lakes near my home in Central Arkansas, those fish will be out in 20 to 50 feet of water, so you have to weight your heads accordingly to keep your bait down near the bottom. As the water cools down, even if they’re feeding on shad, they’re going to be close to structure or sitting on the bottom.
Whenever I’ve eliminated that back-of-the-creek deal, I’ll keep the football head and the umbrella rig on my deck and use them as a one-two punch. But day in and day out, I think the umbrella rig is going to be the best choice.