Forget turkey, think shad

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.

Fall is in full swing in most parts of our country and, for me at least, that means I'm seriously conflicted. I love to hunt and this is the time of the year to do that. I can visualize my tree stand as I write this. At the same time, I love to fish and this is also the time of the year to do that.

The reason I love to fish in November going into Thanksgiving is that the water's cooling, the shad bite is going full-bore and the fish are somewhat predictable. If I'm not in the woods, you'll most likely find me on the water.

Let me say right up front, however, that November bass fishing — at least on the very best fishing days — isn't for sissies. Strong winds, cold rains, cloudy skies and the like should draw you toward the water. The bass feed heavily under those conditions. If you want to catch a bunch of them, you should be out there battling the elements.

Bright, sunny skies and unusually warm air may appeal to you as an angler, but it doesn't appeal to the fish. True, some days like that can be OK — especially in the afternoons when the shad start flipping. By and large, however, you'll do much better when the weather is ugly.

Generally speaking, I start looking for bass in the creeks this time of year. Depending upon what part of the country you're fishing, the shad will be in the shallow, backwater areas or on their way back out toward the main lake where they'll spend the winter. (A lot of anglers miss this movement from the creeks back to the lake. Don't be one of them.)

If they're shallow — meaning winter is a ways away — the bass will be shallow, too. Obviously, that's where you should be fishing. On the other hand, if winter is right around the corner, the shad are most likely going to be found on secondary points and along sharp channel swings. Naturally, that's where the bass will be located.

Much of this depends upon where you're fishing and the weather. Some winters arrive earlier than others. Regardless, most of our late fall water will be in the high 50-degree range. Bass should be actively feeding no matter if it's in the backs of creeks or out farther on points and swings.

My favorite baits at this time of the year are spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, jerkbaits and Red Eye Shad lipless crankbaits in Sexy Shad. One of them will catch bass almost anywhere, under almost any circumstances. Vary your retrieve and technique until you find what they want.

Fall and late fall bass fishing isn't about bass; it's about shad. And for us, it's all about the attitude.

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