Smallmouth bass have been a
fall fascination of mine for years. Great sport on the end of the line, cold
October days see these aggressive predators schooled up on deepwater structure
chasing down anything that moves. One key point to consider when looking for
areas that are holding fish at this time of year is that all spots are not
created equal. On a medium sized lake you might have most of the large bass in
the lake in three small areas. This can make finding them somewhat of a chore
but when you do, look out!
One of my first experiences
with fall bass came on Lake of the Woods. Trying to find some late fall
walleyes, two friends and I fished a series of islands that had a variety of
structures nearby. This included shallow sunken rockpiles, weedgrowth and sharp
drop-offs into the deeper water of the main lake basin. Bingo! Smallmouth bass
were everywhere gobbling up anything that we threw their direction.
Fall smallmouth have a big appetite!
Fall smallmouth will hit a
variety of lures; jigging spoons, jigs and plastic, drop shot rigs and live
bait rigs with minnows all will work, some better than others depending on
activity level. All predators including pike, muskie and even walleye will use
similar areas at this time of year, prime ambush spots for open water forage which
could include ciscoes and whitefish that are moving up on reefs at this time of
year to spawn.
Later in the fall when water
temperatures drop below fifty one degrees Fahrenheit, smallmouth move even
deeper, roaming sharp drops near the main lake basin. When the bass are
positioned like this, I prefer vertical jigging with a jigging spoon tipped
with a small plastic power minnow or a drop shot rig for ease of use.
Al Lindner and Author filming a fall smallmouth segment back in the early 90's
The erratic swimming motion
of an aggressively fished jigging spoon like a Rattlin Snakie can solicit
viscous strikes from even the most inactive smallmouth. This pattern worked on
a fall trip to Tobin Lake in Saskatchewan but for a different species. We
located a stack of walleye along a drop-off on a main lake island. By
positioning the boat over the edge of the reef with the front electric troll
motor we caught both trophy pike and walleye. This is also an excellent pattern
for fall lake trout, with fish that will rip the road out of your hand.