How to Find Au­tumn Bass

SA Bass - - >> Sa Bass - >> Barry Blunt

As the name sug­gests, I will do my best to give you an in­sight as to how I go about find­ing au­tumn bass. To do this I will go through some of my per­sonal method­ol­ogy used to find them and the baits and tech­niques I use to catch them.

Many of us have read the US ar­ti­cles of “fishing in the fall”. Of­ten great ex­pla­na­tions of the mi­gra­tion of “shad” into the backs of creeks and coves and how bass fol­low them. War sto­ries of how they will eat any bait thrown at them in any size or colour. For us mere mor­tals it is sel­dom that we ex­pe­ri­ence such fren­zies, but I can as­sure you it is pos­si­ble. As our South African con­di­tions are dif­fer­ent, dams are smaller, bait­fish are dif­fer­ent, my ex­pe­ri­ences are slightly dif­fer­ent al­beit that a bass act in­stinc­tively.

With­out stat­ing the ob­vi­ous, au­tumn fol­lows sum­mer. Sum­mer fishing is tough, hot days, high wa­ter tem­per­a­tures with low slow fishing, ledge fishing and drag­ging big baits in deeper wa­ter. When the first au­tumn cold fronts come through the wa­ter starts to cool. This is not a rapid process and does not oc­cur to any great depth at all, due to the fronts not bring­ing win­ter level tem­per­a­tures. The shal­lows cool down first and also heat up again faster in the day. In sum­mer the fish hang out deeper dur­ing the day, in cooler wa­ters with more suit­able oxy­gen lev­els. They tend to come shal­lower at night as the wa­ter cools slightly and the wind adds oxy­gen. When au­tumn ar­rives, and the wa­ter cools the bass move up to the shal­lows and stay for longer and longer pe­ri­ods. The days be­come shorter as does the suns ex­po­sure to the wa­ter.

The bait fish, in my opin­ion, are mostly al­ways shal­low es­pe­cially in im­pound­ments with abun­dance of shore­line cover. In mid to late sum­mer it is com­mon place to see bait­fish be­ing crushed in the shal­lows by hun­gry bass with high me­tab­o­lisms. As the wa­ter cools and holds more oxy­gen these pe­ri­ods of at­tack last longer and aren’t al­ways con­fined to night time and early morn­ings. Bait­fish are sub­jected to longer pe­ri­ods of at­tack. The bass feed up un­til the wa­ter gets re­ally cold, their me­tab­o­lism slows and they re­treat to their win­ter haunts.

The strat­egy for find­ing them is there­fore to find the “high­ways” used to get from their deep lairs to the shal­lower feed­ing grounds. The­ses high­ways are river and drainage chan­nels lead­ing up to shal­low flats. The same deep river ledges that they hang out in sum­mer but fur­ther up to­wards their sources, in the bays, where they nar­row down and be­come shal­lower. They also make use of long grad­ual main and sec­ondary points that pro­trude out to these chan­nels or deeper ledges.

Care­ful use of elec­tron­ics to iden­tify schools of bait fish and suit­able cover/struc­ture for bass to stage on is crit­i­cal. Once the bait fish are lo­cated it is im­por­tant to fol­low their move­ments as the bass won’t be far be­hind them. As wa­ter tem­per­a­ture change the fish will move and it is im­por­tant to keep up. The sec­ond and eas­ier method of lo­cat­ing the bass is us­ing your eyes and ears. Look for sur­face erup­tions and bait fish been smashed or driven up to the sur­face. Bird ac­tiv­ity and other an­glers get­ting in on the ac­tion are other ob­vi­ous ways of find­ing the fish.

Au­tumn is in­ter­spersed with cold fronts which may cause a halt to the bass and bait fish’s move­ments. They don’t

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