• Fall Fishing Tips - 10 Great Ways to Catch Bass in Fall

    Fishing on Lake Guntersville in the fall can be one of the most rewarding times of the year. The baitfish have spawned out and there will be pockets and schools of thousands of bait fish, swimming in the back coves and backs of the creeks. As I have indicated before if there are baitfish then there are bass feeding. You will have your pick of dying grassy areas to choose from, the bass will school up, they will feed before the cold of the winter sets in and the feeding frenzy of bass fishing should be excellent. An old saying on the lake in the fall is “the nastier the dying grass looks, the better the fishing.” So be alert to find the scummy, nasty, dying grass and you will find the fish.
    So lets begin the top ten tips:
    1. Yes! Let’s look for the scummy, nasty dying grass and start working a soft plastic on the edges, in the holes and around the areas where the grass has died back. This time of year because there are so many baitfish, I believe that you need to work the worm with a light 1/8 oz. Weight so you can swim it and give the worm a slow drop to the bottom. Sometimes when using a worm in this manner you should try to change sizes and styles of the soft plastic your using, as the bass seem to like many different types of soft plastic baits in the fall, sometimes a flutter like on a lizard is better, others the big tale on a 10 in. monster worm attracts the bite, while at times the dead drop of a finesse worm attracts the bite. Be creative with your soft plastic fishing, there is a worm bite out there that will put fish in the boat and when you find it, you’ll be loading the boat.

    2. Let’s not forget in the fall to target the schools of bait-fish; I have seen times on the water over the years that all you needed to do was look for bait fish schools, take out any lure in your tackle box and throw it into the middle of the bait. The bass are generally feeding and or following the baitfish and if you present a lure into the school of baitfish and make it look vulnerable you will catch fish. My favorite lure in this pattern is to use a spinner-bait, throw it beyond the mass of baitfish and stop it and drop it as your lure moves into the school of baitfish. My preference here is still Punisher Lures "Flame Spinner Bait." I like the red in the bait as it presents a wounded look to the bass. It is also weighted so well that the erratic dropping and changing of speeds crumbles up in a look that resembles a wounded bait the best I have ever seen. The lure then recovers so quickly when you retrieve it again, that you are just amazed with its movement, and the fact that it doesn’t role over. Its just unbelievable how this spinner bait will create a bite. This is where I like a ½ oz. Down to 3/8 oz. Spinner bait, as you are generally fishing shallow, there is grass underneath and you want to keep the lure above the grass and in the strike zone.

    3. No fall fishing pattern on Lake Guntersville would be complete without “rat” fishing, it’s an exciting pattern with plenty of blow-ups and action. The icky grass is just the ticket to having a great time pulling that rat over the grass beds. The baitfish have started to move to the shallows and the conditions are just perfect for this pattern to produce with great success this fall. As I have stated in my previous article, set up correctly with a heavy rod and reel with braided line and get ready to have a blast. The rat bite this year should be as good as its been in a long time. The grass is thick and dying on top, it’s turning brown and the baitfishes have started to move to the shallows. This will be an amazing pattern this fall, stick with it don’t give up easy on the bite and you will eventually have success fishing a rat.

    4. Fall fishing on Lake Guntersville can be great, but in order for you to have a great fall you must fish hard, the bass won’t be everywhere. In order to turn a tough time of year into a successful one, you must be willing to spend some time on the water and figure out what the bass are hitting and where they appear to be active. This will not come with an hour trip to the lake, you see this time of year the bass seem to school more, follow the bait and feed some but not often each day. So your activity will come in short periods, small areas and only for a few hours a day. The biggest and best tip I can give you is get on the river for long periods and often, the patterns will then develop if you try different lures, presentations and areas. So once you find them and start repeating that pattern the fall will be a great time to be on Lake Guntersville.

    5. Believe it or not the wind is very important to finding the fish in the fall of the year. Guntersville generally has a wind once fall sets in, and because of this you must be savvy to the fact that the wind will dictate the location of the bass. With so many baitfish this time of year if its windy you need to be aware of the direction of the wind, for example if the wind is blowing out of the North then the South banks or the South end of a grass clump will hold the baitfish. The wind will dictate where the baitfish stages themselves, and hence the bass will always be close. This doesn’t mean that you have to quit fishing your favorite spot if its on a North bank, this means that be aware that the bait will clump on the south side of the humps, or grass edges, or points and your best opportunity to find them will be on these south edges of your favorite spots. The wind could very well be your best friend while you are fall fishing, so let it work for you and be aware of where it’s pushing the bait. It doesn’t take much wind to move the bait around, so position yourself to let the wind give you an advantage.

    6. As the fall is a transition time of year there will be bass feeding at different depths, not every bass in the lake will move shallow at the same time. In fact if the weather turns off cold quickly the run to the shallows will be met with the fishes instinct to go deep when it turns cold, so the movement to the shallows may very well be daily. Cold nights, warming sun equals movement daily to the deeper water and back to the shallow to feed. What this tells you; is that some days the best feeding time will be in the middle of the day as the sun warms the shallow water. So you may very well have to fish a little deeper early in the day especially if we have had a cold night and move shallow with the warming of the day. Don’t fear because the baitfish will follow the same transition lines on a daily bases and move in and out as the bass do. So early in the day you may need to be backed off the grass lines or humps or points fishing 8 to 12 feet of water and moving to the 3 foot depths as the day moves on. When this occurs look for the break lines to be productive, the bass will stage where that hump or edge changes from one depth quickly to another, these break lines can be very productive after a cold night.

    7. A pattern that I have found productive over the fall of the year has to do with obscure break lines in the grass. I have found that the wind and sometimes heavy rains from hurricanes as they work from south to north leave some very distinct break lines in and around the broken up grass. When you see an obscure break in the grass, work those areas carefully, the crawfish become more recognizable this time of year to the bass and a bait swimming in and around these break lines is a good producer of big fish. Besides that the obscure breaks in the grass hold the baitfish as they can hide them from the winds and as usual the bass will follow the baitfish. As in the information above the wind will again position the crawfish and baitfish by pushing it to the grass edge as described above, so boat position will again be important. One thing you need to be aware of here is that sometimes the grass has broken away from the edges and floats and moves as the wind blows, these floating mats of grass are not obscure grass lines and in most case do not hold the fish. If the grass does not hold itself to the bottom it generally will not hold the fish. Bass relate to bottom structure and floating grass mats do not have a bottom structure tied to it. That mat of floating grass will look very tempting but in most cases you are wasting your time fishing around them. One of the most difficult things to do in the fall of the year is to work any of your cranking type baits; the floating grass is always in your way and it is very aggravating to constantly be cleaning off your lure. However, these crank baits produce fish in the fall especially as the later part of the fall starts to set in. There has been no lure more productive for me in late fall than a jerk bait or shad-rap. It is however very aggravating when you are constantly getting caught up in floating grass. My suggestion is for you to just calm down and put up with it as a jerk bait or shallow running shad-rap worked strategically around the grass can be very productive. Find ways to make this bait work with you, in most cases you are moving this bait very slowly anyways so position your cast so you can work around the edges and pieces of floating grass and let the wind help your position. Make sure these crank baits are the suspending type; this will allow you to leave it in position while your working it through and around the floating debris. A key to fishing suspending baits is patience, don’t be in a hurry to pull this bait back to the boat, twitch it some, let it sit and rock in place and you will be assured of a bite. Another key to successful cranking like this is to try and match the size and color of the actual bait, you want this lure to look real yet produce a bite, if you over size or undersize your bait you risk it looking unrealistic in the water. The bass have had so many lures thrown at them by this time of the year that they are very weary of being caught. You will find times in the late fall when a bite will come from a reaction of your bait, so be creative with these crank baits try to determine if the bite is a reaction bite or not. When you can tell the difference you will be better at getting the next bite on these crank baits.

    The next two tips are suggestions from this year’s 2006 B.A.S.S. Co-Angler Champion on Lake Guntersville Hadley Coan. Hadley is one of Lake Guntersville premier tournament fishermen; he is probably the biggest name on the tournament trail on Lake Guntersville producing week after week wins on Lake Guntersville over the past several years. As a Triton boat sponsored fisherman, Hadley rivals all comers with wins, maybe more wins in the past five years than anyone. His suggestions and tips deserve your attention.

    8. Hadley’s first suggestion starts with the use of a spinner bait. He states; “ find the obscure small patches of grass on the lake, not the big large mated areas and work a shad colored spinner bait around the obscure patches of grass. Use a ¼ oz. To 3/8 oz. Spinner bait and work these grass patches thoroughly.” He believes that the spinner bait bite might be the best fall bite, and by being selective to the correct type of grassy areas that you can have a real productive day on the lake. You see the small patches of grass tend to hold more fish in a small area, so if you stay away from the long mated flats and find these 10 to 30 foot sections of grass the bass will stack up or bunch up around them and when you catch one the area will produce many bites. These smaller patches of grass also have a tendency to be broken up, leaving areas inside the grass that you can work that spinner bait and catch your limit. Hadley also suggests, “because the water is generally clear around these areas that you need to use single willow leaf blades on your spinner bait, and colors that compliment the water.” Big bright baits just do not produce bites in clear water.”

    9. Hadley’s second suggestion is to “get out your buzz baits and lay in the boat a rod rigged with a senko where you can get to it quickly, take that shad colored buzz bait and find those same holes in the small patchy grass you were working with your spinner bait and buzz that over these areas.” Not only will the buzz bait produce bites and bass but if you find the bass are hitting a little short, as they sometimes do this time of year, “you should take that “senko” and throw it into those areas that you just missed the buzz bait bite and catch fish on the senko.” Hadley believes that working the senko immediately into the buzz bait miss is an extremely effective way to put good quality bass in the boat in the fall.” A pattern that has won several tournaments for Hadley over the past years in the fall time of year.

    10. The fall time of year on Guntersville is generally very dry, many days in a row of high-pressure and just beautiful. So one thing you can do to have a productive day is to try to get on the water when we do have a low-pressure day set in. The rain will turn the fish on this time of year and if you can get yourself on the water during some of these few low-pressure days you will benefit by catching fish. If your looking for the perfect 65-degree sunny late fall day, it will be pretty but the bite will be tough. Unfortunately that bad weather where you’re a little uncomfortable on the water will be your best day to catch fish. I’ve seen days over the years where I fished hard for 4, 5 maybe 6 days in row, the days were just beautiful fall days but man I could not find a bite. I mean I spent hours on the water, then found myself on the water in the middle of a cold very rare fall rain and just loaded the boat in just a few hours. You see as the grass rots away, the water becomes clearer and clearer, there are fewer places for the bass to hide from the sun and even though the temperature of the water and the conditions seem just perfect it really isn’t. So be tough, get out on the water during these low-pressure days and take advantage of the bad weather to catch fish.

    Well I hope you will try some of these tips, they are proven methods of catching bass in the fall on Lake Guntersville. I’d like to take a moment to thank Hadley Coan for his input, there are very few of the tournament fisherman willing to make suggestions for these types of articles. He is a true sportsman; one I respect immensely, and probably the best local tournament fisherman in North Alabama.
    I look forward to fishing with you this fall.