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While most outdoorsmen are sitting in deer stands and duck blinds, I’m still out on the lake. With the weather changes that the late fall brings, like cold fronts and rainy days, I’ve had to change my fishing pattern and let the bass tell me what they want. The conditions haven’t exactly been ideal, but it’s been fun trying to figure out these fish.
The late fall period can sometimes be tricky for us fishermen. During this time of year, I’m usually fishing transition areas like secondary points and main lake points that lead out of those areas where the fish feed heavily during the middle of the fall, but with the recent rains the water has gotten muddier and the bass can’t see as well. The fish that were feeding heavily on stopping points and transition spots haven’t been as active recently, and I have to believe it’s from the change in water clarity. As an angler it can be hard to know what to do when the bass are supposed to be moving out into their early winter patterns and all of a sudden, a wrench gets thrown in the works, causing the fish to act differently than they usually do. Luckily, I was able to find a pattern that worked for me.
Most of us have heard of the “Dark Room” analogy, which is if you were in the middle of a room and someone turned the lights off, the first thing you would do is try to find a wall to navigate your way out of the room or to the light switch. This same idea applies to bass in dirty water, where they can’t see as well. They’re going to get around something that makes them feel safe. They’re going to go to shallower water and hold tighter to the structure. Transition banks with vegetation and little steps with deep water behind them have been producing some decent fish for me lately. Usually, I would be fishing in 8-10 ft. of water, but the fish have fallen back a bit into around 3-6 ft. of water. I’ve been able to catch some better-quality fish by upping the size of my lures and using colors that are dark (e.g., solid black, black and blue, junebug) and colors that are bright (e.g. chartreuse, pink). All natural colors like green pumpkin and watermelon have been set aside until the water clears up.
Out of all the lures I’ve recently thrown the ones that have produced better bites are the Smithwick Suspending Rogue jerk bait in a fire tiger color, a pink/bubblegum Senko, and a chartreuse Banjo Minnow in a larger size. With it getting colder it’s best to use lures with a tighter action and less appendages. The fish and forage are lethargic with the colder weather moving in so it’s best to mimic the bait fish with lures that I can retrieve slowly and the bolder colors and bigger profile lures I’ve been using have allowed the fish to see what’s in front of them. When the temperature drops the bass want to spend less energy on feeding, so they are more willing to eat something larger to get more bang for their buck. When water temperatures drop, bass would rather conserve their energy by eating a few big meals a day versus spending more energy hunting around for a lot of little meals a day. It was important that the jerkbait suspended in the water column because it stayed in the strike zone longer, giving the bass a better chance of seeing it as it hovered on top of the vegetation. The Banjo Minnow came in clutch for me too as it has a life-like action as I used a slow “twitch, twitch, pause” retrieve. 90% of my bites were on the pause, no surprise there.
I’m looking forward to the challenges that the colder weather brings. I, myself, am not very patient so I plan on spending this winter slowing down on the water in hopes of a couple big fish. I’m a fan of the C-Rig and a heavy football jig which have proven themselves to be big fish catchers in the deeper parts of the lake during the winter and early spring. Hopefully soon I will be writing to you about my new personal best.