Fall turnover is baffling to most anglers. Our waters are cooling and mixing. Thermoclines that set up over the summer and restricted bass movement in the water column are gone and the bass are scattered, tournament weights are down and strikes are harder to come by.
If you're a casual angler, you can combat fall turnover in a handful of ways. For one, you could lean back in your recliner and check out the college and pro games on the tube. For another, you could gut it out on the water, knowing the action will be slow but hoping the lovely fall colors will perk things up.
Or you could take the advice of Edwin Evers, a man who makes a living from his ability to find and catch bass. The 11-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier has posted consecutive runner-up finishes in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race and is on the short list of favorites to win one or both of those titles in 2012. When his favorite waters turn over in the fall, Evers has a three-pronged approach to turns things in his favor.
"Turnover can really mess things up and cause a lot of anglers to struggle," Evers admits. "The first thing I consider doing when that happens is simply to take turnover out of the equation. I do that by looking for running water.
"I like to run as far up a major tributary as I can until I find running water. Turnover's not an issue where the water's moving."
Once he's up the creek or river far enough to find the flow, Evers opts for an XCalibur XCS square-billed crankbait in Tennessee Special (if the water's clear) or Oxbow or Black Back Chartreuse (if it's stained). He throws the cranks on a Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier reel (6.4:1 gear ratio) spooled with 17- or 20-pound-test Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon line on a 7-foot medium-heavy action Bass Pro Shops cranking rod.
Long casts, rapid retrieves and covering water are the order of the day for this pattern.
If moving water simply isn't available to you or it would require a prohibitively long run, don't despair. Evers has two other approaches that will bail you out and put bass on the end of your line during the turnover period.
"If moving water's not an option, I like to go ultra shallow," says the popular Oklahoma pro. "Look for baitfish and work an XCalibur Xw6 Wake Bait, buzzbait or Yum Money Frog. The Money Frog is sort of a subtle buzzbait, and I like throwing it on 50-pound braided line. Again, the key here is to cover lots of water. The more you cover, the more you catch."
If moving water or the super shallows aren't paying off, Evers goes up top, committing to a Heddon Zara Spook all day long.
"I focus on bait balls (shad) in the backs of pockets and make long casts to them," he says. "I like the One Knocker Spook in bone/orange belly or black if the water's stained and the traditional Zara Spook in silver flitter shad — which a lot of folks call "Christmas Tree" — if it's clear. I throw the Spook on 50-pound braid on a 7-foot medium action Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier rod and Pro Qualifier reel with a 7:1 gear ratio.
"A big key with any of these patterns is just to cover a lot of water," Evers says. "I fish hard, and over the course of a day I'm probably going to cover two or three times as much water as most anglers. That means more bites and more fish.
"I'm also going to keep my bait in the strike zone longer than most because instead of making perpendicular casts to shoreline targets, I'm going to put my boat right up against the bank and make casts parallel to it. I'm moving fast enough that every cast is in new water because my boat is moving toward each cast."
Evers has one final piece of advice for fall anglers that will probably serve us well anytime we're on the water.
"Don't be scared to look for bass in off-the-wall places. After the 2011 All-Star Week competition on the Alabama River (where Evers finished second), I had people who watched The Bassmasters television show tell me they had fished the river for decades and never seen the areas I was fishing. You have to be open minded and willing to try new things and new places if you're going to be successful."
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