Attacking a weird fall, part 1

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Steve Bowman

This has been kind of a weird fall. It’s pushing into the middle of October but, except for a week or so, most of the country has been experiencing hot weather. I don’t mean unusually warm. I mean really hot, even by Louisiana standards.

This can make for a tough bite if you don’t approach things correctly. I’ve seen it before so I’ll give you some of my thoughts. I hope they help.

First, let’s talk about some things that you sometimes hear, and that are sometimes true. A lot of guys will say that the shorter days and cooler air temperatures — even if only by a degree or two — will move the fish shallow. Maybe…

I’m not a biologist so I can’t say for sure, but I can tell you as an angler that what really moves the bass are cool nights. That drops the water temperature even though it may go back up in the late afternoon. I think that’s by far the biggest factor in the fall migration.

With that in mind savvy anglers will look a this time period as a time when the bass might be starting to move, or considering it, but they won’t look at it as a time to hit the shallows. Regardless of what might be said the bottom line is that the shad and other minnows move shallow to feed on vegetation, and the bass follow the shad. That’s not happening yet, and it’s especially not happening for the bigger shad that bring in the bigger bass.

So, most of the forage that’s shallow right now will be small.

Along with what I just said you have to remember that our flood control reservoirs are having the bottoms pulled out from under them so that they’ll be ready to hold the spring rains and melting snow. That has a tendency to keep the bass out of shallow water, too. 

Here’s the deal: I’m not going to fish real shallow right now. The bass aren’t there yet and even if they’re headed in that direction they’re being tentative about it. What I am going to do is attack with smaller baits that are less aggressive.

If I’ve been catching them with a Texas rig using a long worm and a 1/2-ounce weight, I’ll shorten my worm considerably and I’ll switch to a 1/4-ounce weight. That’ll still give them something to look at, but it’ll be smaller and less aggressive.

I’ll do the same thing with my spinnerbaits. A 3/16-ounce model or a 1/4-ounce model is plenty big, especially after I swap out the big blades for little ones. I don’t want anything with size, flash or thump. And, it’s exactly the same with my crankbaits. A Strike King Pro Model Series 1 crankbait is big enough. 

As far as color is concerned there are so many different situations out there that it’s hard to say. The best advice I can give you is that you’ll never be wrong if you match whatever they’re eating. Some shad are silver, some dirty white. Pick what you have that’s closest to what’s real where you’re fishing and go for it.

Don’t get suckered into thinking that just because it’s October you should be way back in a creek somewhere. Fish a little deeper than you normally would.

Editor's note: Read part 2.