Fall forage facts

Stephen Headrick

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

The weather's been so dry lately; it's like a desert where I live. If you're having the same problem, you know what I'm talking about, and you need to know that dry weather affects the fall forage movement. It's not like a normal year when you go to the backs of the creeks, match the hatch with your lure and catch a bunch of fish.

 We all know that in most years the forage moves into the creeks when it starts to cool down. What a lot of guys don't know is that a part of the reason for that is that the creeks are running from the fall rains. This year the dry weather has kept the creeks from running, and that's kept the forage out in the main lake. Fishing in the backs of the creeks is a waste of time.

 About the closest you'll find anything is at the mouth of the bigger creeks, and that'll be just a few minnows. Most of them will be swimming around in open water. If you find the forage, you'll find smallmouths. That's the way it's always been and probably the way it'll always be.

 I search the whole lake for schools of baitfish under these conditions. I don't care about what's on top. I'm not looking for surface activity. The bass that are feeding on top are usually small. You can catch them with a Spook or a popper for fun, but I want the big ones.

 They're down deep with the deeper baitfish. That's where I'm going to fish. I'm looking for schools of baitfish that are 20 to 30 feet deep. Sometimes they're holding over water that's 80 feet deep. Your friends will think you're crazy when they see you out there, but they'll change their tune when they see your catch.

 I'm mostly talking about big highland reservoirs. Your water may be different, but I'll bet it's the same. Look for the baitfish out away from the shore if your creeks aren't running. Look for the ones that are under the surface if you want a big fish, and don't worry about structure or anything like that.

 It can be hard to find the deep schools. About all you can do is run around the lake watching your electronics. When you find a school, start fishing it. One nice thing about deep baitfish is that you don't have to worry much about spooking them.

 When I find a school of baitfish like that, I'll fish it with a drop shot rig or with a jigging spoon. Next week we'll talk about how to do that. There's more to it than a lot of guys think.

 Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me atStephen@thesmallmouthguru.com.

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