Fishing with Kenny: Bass Fishing’s “Five for Fall”
article by KENNY COVINGTON
It’s no secret I love hunting season. The leaves on the trees are changing colors, the morning air is crisp and cool, and the woods are full of hunters chasing their game of choice, leaving very few people on the water. In a lot of fall fishing scenarios, I have pulled up to a boat ramp and found that I have the water all to myself. Bass fishing tranquility at its finest.
Fall has always been my favorite time to fish. Over the years I have found that I catch more and bigger bass in the fall than I do any other time of year. Usually the fish are grouped up and where I catch one, I can catch several. I have always believed this is due to less boat pressure and the fish not having to see so many lures day in and day out.
While fishing in the fall over the years I have put together a lure selection that has proven to work no matter where I go, no matter if I am fishing in tournaments or just pleasure fishing. By having a good idea of what I am going to fish before I get to the water, I’m allowed more time to search for active fish once I am there. Before getting into my choice of lures, let’s talk briefly about what I look for on the water to help locate and catch fall bass.
The first thing you want to do is start searching the backs of creeks and pockets for schools of shad. Fall bass key on shad due to their abundance and the ease in which bass can find them. Be very observant of bird activity. If you are riding down the lake and you see white egrets or herons in a specific part of a flat or area of the lake, those birds are there for a reason and you can bet shad will be present. Allow the birds to help you find the shad so the shad will help you find the bass.
Another thing you want to consider is water depth. Since I love to fish shallow water, I spend a lot of my fall bass fishing in less than five foot of water. One thing I want to make sure you understand, bass this time of year can be found in only inches of water. I have caught them where you would swear you could see their backs out of the water. Remember, you can never fish too shallow.
So, now that we have found baitfish in an area that we believe holds actively feeding bass, what lures do we want to use? Remember, lures are only tools. Each one has a specific job and while some lures are great at locating fish, others are better fish catchers. Here is an example: if I am fishing a shallow flat with a topwater lure and have fish strike at my lure but won’t take it, I know I have found a potentially good area. If I switch to a spinnerbait and begin catching fish, I will have figured out the correct lure for the conditions and the area I am in. The topwater located the fish, the spinnerbait allowed me to catch them.
In the fall, regardless of where I am fishing, the following five baits are the first one’s I take out of my rod locker: a spinnerbait, squarebill crankbait, topwater lure, Rat L Trap style lure, and a small jig. These choices allow me to cover just about any situation while I am trying to figure out the fish activity for that particular day.
My first choice is always a spinnerbait. It is versatile and you can cover a lot of water with it. I can burn it close to the surface, slow roll it around trees and timber, or run it in and around grass. The biggest key to fishing a spinnerbait this time of year is the speed of the retrieve. I’m basic with my lure choice as I always start with a shad colored ½ ounce double willow leaf version. I have won more money fishing a spinnerbait in the fall than any other lure that I own.
My next choice in my “Five for Fall” lures is a squarebill crankbait. I use both the 1.5 and the 2.5 versions but I have found the 1.5 to be a more consistent fish catcher. The larger lure tends to work better later in the fall once the water has cooled down. The squarebill is especially effective when used around rocks, cypress trees and boat docks. I keep my color choices shad based, but in the fall, chartreuse/black is a great color choice.
Lure choice number three is a topwater lure. My favorite is a Zara Spook but I will use a Pop R or a buzzbait, depending on if I have grass in the area I am fishing. The Spook is my go-to because it catches both numbers and size of fish. I have seen days when you can catch fish all day just running the bank with the Spook. It is a lure that is both a great search lure and fish catcher.
When it comes to an all-round great fall fishing lure, this next one is arguably the best. The Rat L Trap style baits have been around for decades and are just as effective today as they were 50 years ago. I tend to go with the smaller ¼ ounce versions for no other reason than I catch more fish with it. Chrome/blue is pretty much the only color you need but a basic shad pattern will do. The one thing I always tell fishermen is to make sure you change your hooks to an EWG style and use a good crankbait style rod when using this type of lure. These two changes will help you hook and land more fish.
My last lure choice is used for cleaning up an area after I have made my initial pass through it and want to try to catch any fish I may have missed. It is a 3/8 once Strike King Bitsy Flip jig, black/blue with a matching Zoom Jr. Swim chunk trailer. This little guy is great for flipping/pitching trees, docks, laydowns or whatever visual cover you can see. It is also a great way to catch the biggest bass in an area that you have already fished hard with other lures. I have won more big bass pots in the fall on this lure than I can count. It’s a big fish catcher!
Well, it looks as though we have run out of time and space for another month. I sure hope we have been able to give you some good information that will help your fall fishing trips be more successful. Be extra careful on the water this time of year as the duck hunters are enjoying the waterways as well.
If you have any questions or comments about this months “Fishing with Kenny” article, feel free to drop me a line at KennyBassman225@aol.com. I would be glad to hear from you! See you next month!