Autumn Bass Strategies –
“Autumn Bass Strategies – Unlocking The Pattern!” We are at it again, as we ponder what to do next time we find ourselves on the water searching for that fish of a lifetime – Mzi Tyhokolo
Well, worry not as I will try to guide you with a few pointers for autumn fishing so that you are better prepared to have a productive day on the water the next time you are out. You see, bass are from the sunfish family of fish, whose body temperature is very sensitive and susceptible to the temperature of the water. Imagine yourself in the middle of winter when it’s freezing cold and all you want to do is snuggle up and sip hot chocolate, or in the heat of summer when you want to do nothing but sprawl in a cool room and do nothing but reach out for a super cold drink from your couch. Same thing happens to our little friends when it’s too hot or too cold, their metabolism slows down and food, or your lure, takes a back seat. So, now that we know this, how does autumn change this deal?
Autumn - Feast time for sure!
The reason that autumn produces some of the best fishing is because of a few things which we will now consider, which make the bass all the more keen to eat up.
Water temperature starts to drop as the debilitating heat starts to recede and paving the way for the winter. The cooler water not only makes the fish more active but it draws them to the shallows where there is grass, more oxygen and food, which are all a recipe for active bass ready to smash your lure.
Shorter days means that the sun raises a little later,
keeping the brightness at bay and extending the period for that awesome morning and afternoon bite. The fish get a lot bolder with lower light conditions and remain in the shallows much longer. This is especially important in our clear water dams.
Food becomes plentiful in the shallows this time of the year as well, and the bass think of nothing else but the buffet that awaits them in the shallower water.
Water levels and vegetation. With the improvement in water levels in most dams around the country, the water has moved up into the grass, and this provides bass with both food and shelter. A perfect combination for an awesome day of fishing.
So, what pattern should you fish in autumn?
There are two parts to this concept of a pattern, first you need to figure out where the fish are and second, how to catch them. The first should be a little easier to figure out now given what we have been talking about regarding the time of year it is. So, locate grass flats near major river channels or what is called fish migrating routes, back of bays, secondary bays and pretty much any flat with grass or structure in the water should hold some fish. Your chances of success are tripled if you happen to find bait fish in the same shallows.
So, now that we know when they should be, what baits do we use?
Remember one thing here, the fish are in an active feeding mood and so don’t skimp on moving baits. My top five baits would be; lipless crankbaits or what most call rattle traps. Throw these along the grass edge and retrieve with moderate speed. I love these as they are such easy baits to use, throw and retrieve and… hang on.
My second favourite here is a weightless fluke or soft jerkbait. This I will throw as far back into the sparse grass and just twitch it back to the boat through the grass. Be careful and use decent strength line, minimum 10 -12lb fluorocarbon line, depending on whether you fish trees or grass and similar vegetation.
Third, and this is when the big boys come to play, throw that frog. Depending on the density of the vegetation you can chose whether it’s the horny toad type from which you cast and retrieve steadily or you use the popping retrieve type frog. By the way, you don’t only fish frogs in grass, fish them on open flats too or just off the bank. The strikes are among the best in bass fishing so be warned, if you have a weak heart, bring an extra pair of underpants.
Fourth, I would say a jerkbait and preferable on a more open flat or bank with shallow water. The think with jerkbaits is that they are so good you may be put a fish on the boat at every cast. And often the first two or three meters of your retrieve is when these get eaten.
Fifth, and not certainly least, spinnerbait. This bait still continues to put fish on the boat even in an era when it seems like there is a new bait every week. Throw this bad boy into the slick grass and between the trees and retrieve away. These are generally snag proof and will put fish on the boat, especially if there is a slight breeze blowing onto the ban you are fishing.
There is a myriad of baits out there which various people catch plenty of fish on but I have chosen the ones listed because I have had great success with them.