5 clues to fall patterns

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world. KVD has 4 Bassmaster Classic wins and 7 Angler of the Year titles to his name. 

Bass are starting to move into the creeks on most of our lakes as they begin to feed up prior to winter.

There are five things I look for to tell me when and where to find fish this time of year:

1. Water temperature

The fall pattern is triggered whenever the surface temperature drops 10 degrees below summer temperatures. It’s generally triggered by cooler nights and frontal changes which we’re seeing throughout the nation.

That temperature change can vary from lake to lake and is relative to different regions of the country, so there is no “magic” water temperature I can give you other than to pay attention changing water temperatures which dictate the fall pattern.

The cooler temperatures draw bait into the creeks and draw them shallower and the bass follow.

Once I know the fall pattern has begun, I use water temperature to tell me what part of the fall pattern the fish are in and which baits to use.

For example, after a cool night and when there is steam coming off the water during early morning, the shad won’t be as active as they will be when the sun warms the surface. Bass probably won’t be chasing early, so it’s unlikely I will get a spinnerbait or topwater bite. I will use a shallow crankbait and fish it with a medium retrieve to trigger a reaction bite. When I see the water temp rise and the shad getting active and bass schooling, I’ll switch to a spinnerbait or topwater.

2. Baitfish

This is the No. 1 key to fall fishing. Find the bait and you will find the bass. The shad are moving into those creeks with incoming water that brings in nutrients and builds plankton on which the shad will feed. The major creeks, especially after a heavy rain, generally attract the most bait and bass.