How to Catch More Smallmouth Bass in Fall
By Jason Brenic | October 26, 2022
The Summer to Fall transition can be a frustrating time of the year to target Smallmouth. During this time of the year, the overnight temperatures are starting to fall, and the water temps are slowly cooling down. When this happens, it triggers an instinct in the Smallmouth to begin feeding at a heavier rate; colder temps mean Winter is right around the corner.
In this article, I will cover where, when and how to catch more Smallmouth during this transition into Fall.
Where Have my Summer Fish Gone?!
When fish begin to transition, it can be one of the most frustrating times as an angler. You’ve had those pesky brown footballs dialed in all summer long and now you’ve found that you’re not landing quite as many as you were before the temps cooled down. Before we can dive into where, we need to know why they have moved; they WHY is called FALL TURNOVER.
Fall Turnover takes place roughly when the water reaches Mid to Low 50 Degrees; the water on the surface cools and begins to mix with the deeper water ultimately until both layers of the water become the same temperature. This ultimately opens the water column and invites the Smallmouth to spread all over the lake in different areas and depths.
This is a great time to utilize your electronics to help you locate those fish that have scattered. Using technology like side imaging or Live Sonar will allow you to locate the fish that are less scattered, thus giving you a better opportunity to catch more fish.
As this Turnover period passes and the water temps move from the Lower 50s into the 40s, you will notice Smallmouth starting to school in areas with large amounts of available forage. This usually means sharp breaks with large structure or flats.
How can I catch them?
During the turbid Fall Turnover, your best bet is to remain versatile and mobile. Those fish can be spread out anywhere in the water column and you need to be able to adjust quickly to capitalize on a school of fish.
My GO TO bait during this transition is a 4” Paddle Tail Swimbait rigged on a Ned Head. The Ned Head allows this bait to be incredibly versatile as you can swim it or allow it to fall to the bottom and work it back to the boat with a slow drag.
When using this technique, I absolutely LOVE the Brand New Piscifun Auric 2000L, this model is a 5.2:1 Gear Ratio, which is perfect for slow rolling that swimbait wherever I want to put it in the water column. The smooth Carbon Drag and lightweight frame, make this reel a joy to fish with for long periods of time. When it comes to my rod selection, I opt for the 7’ 2” Medium Light Serpent Series or Carbon X Series, both rods offer incredible sensitivity and beautiful parabolic bend to keep those BIG BRONZEBACKS pinned.
Another incredibly overlooked tactic is to drag a 4-6” sucker across the bottom on a Carolina rig. When opting for this technique, I use my 7’ 3” Medium/Fast action Carbon X Spinning Rod paired with my Captain 2000. This combo allows for the perfect amount of flex using live bait and the 6.2:1 Gear Ratio of the Captain allows me to take up a lot of slack at one time to keep up with big fish.
Overall, the Summer Transition into Fall can be a bit tricky; however, if you stay mobile and use your electronics – you can keep putting fish in the boat. Once that turnover period is over, it is game time, get out there and locate those BIG schools of hungry fish and get that bass thumb good and sore!
Good Luck out there and Tight Lines!