They move earlier than you think

It’s just a week after Labor Day. In most years that marks the start of the shad and bass migration into shallow water. It’s my favorite time of the year, without a doubt. It seems like every day is better than the day before. 

I know, the air is hot and so is the water. We’ve just come off one of the toughest months of the year. But I don’t care about any of that and neither do the bass. A lot of them will be going shallow, and I’ll be there to catch them. 

Baitfish and bass are creatures that are controlled by seasonal changes. In my opinion one of the most overrated factors at this time of the year is water temperature. And, the length of the day and angle of the sun are overrated, too. The movement is about all of those things, and it’s about none of them. It’s been summer long enough. It’s time for fall.

I mark Labor Day as the change based on what happens here in North Carolina. If you’re up near the Canadian border, it’ll probably happen a couple of weeks earlier. If you’re way down in the South, it’ll probably happen a little later. But it will happen. There’s no doubt about that.  

Almost anywhere you go the fishing will get better from one day to the next this month and next month. You’ll see the migration happening every time you go out on the water. There’ll be less of them in the main lake and more of them in the creeks and on the channels leading into shallow water. 

What happens is that the first bass to move will group up near the creeks or the flats on one of the nearest breaks. They won’t be real shallow, but they’ll be shallower than they were a day or two ago. Once you find them you can catch them by the boatload.  

That doesn’t mean that you can’t still catch them out in the main lake, though. Some bass are always deep and some are always shallow. That’s one of the few things you can depend on in this sport. So when you hear that some guy is catching them out on the humps don’t be surprised.

I still say, though, that you’ll do better shallow. There are more fish there, and they’re feeding better. Because of that there are dozens of ways to catch them. 

Spinnerbaits, small crankbaits, poppers and walking sticks will get you bites, and so will a jig. Smaller lures sometimes work better especially if you are careful to match the hatch. The water’s clear most of the time. It’s best to make things look as natural as possible.  

Here’s the way I see it: Don’t wait for the leaves to turn pretty colors before you turn your boat towards the shallows. Get in there and catch a bunch of them while the water’s fresh and before the bass get pressured. 

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