How fall turnover affects bass fishing

"You have to avoid it like the plague," he says. "You're just not going to catch fish in those dead waters."

If he's fishing a large lake, Wirth knows the progression of the turnover, which helps him find enough unaffected areas to target. Turnover usually begins in the upper, shallower arms of lakes, which cool down quicker in the fall, and ends on the deeper, lower section where the water stays warmer longer.

"Knowing where it starts and where it heads to is the whole key," says Wirth. "Since turnover usually starts in the backs of the creeks, as soon as you notice that, try to fish the outside of it and go maybe to the mouth of the creek."

The Kentucky pro has also noticed that certain creeks or coves in the same section of the lake turn over at different times, depending on the depth of each creek or cove.

As the turnover moves down lake, Wirth either keeps fishing ahead of the turning water or heads in the opposite direction if he thinks the upper arms have recovered from the malaise.

"As the turnover transitions out, you can transition through it and get behind it," he says.

Wirth estimates it usually takes about two weeks for an area to bounce back from the turnover, but the recovery process shortens if the area gets plenty of wind or current or if a heavy rain flushes out the dead water.

"Once the water starts clearing up a little bit, you can start generating some bites in it," Wirth says.

When he targets these post-turnover waters, Wirth keys on the shallows and throws small-action lures such as spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and crankbaits or pitches to cover with white flipping tubes.

Good times return after the turnover passes through the whole lake because bass have plenty of oxygen throughout the water column.

"Once the turnover completes its chain of events, you can pretty much do whatever you want to catch them," Wirth says.

Originally published November 2011