Fish Behavior During the Fall Transition

hWith the temperatures dropping at the onset of the fall season, fish behavior at many levels of the food chain will begin to change. Fish will no longer be seeking comfort due to the summer heat, but will instead seek to fatten up and hunt prey in waters that might have previously been too hot to do so. Keep reading for an inside look at the changes in fish behavior as autumn sets in.

One of the first things you’ll notice is that there will be more bass in shallow water during the fall, simply because it is now more comfortable to be there. The heat and intense sun no longer boil the shallows, which means bass are more aggressive for longer periods of time, and on overcast days they will often feed all day in very shallow water. Remember the baitfish they primarily feed on had all summer to grow and they are much larger than in the spring, so the bass gorging on shad to gain weight for winter will hunt down big baitfish and not waste much time on small forage.

During the winter, when the water temps drop below 50 degrees, a bass’ metabolism drops, as well, nearly to the point that the fish hardly has to eat at all. In order to survive the long winter, bass will gorge themselves on shad, which means shad are the go-to lure for the fall season.

As the water temps with the arrival of fall, shad will begin to move towards the back of creeks and coves in preparation for winter, and where the shad go, the bass are sure to follow. In fact, bass can often be found situated on long sloping points, waiting to ambush the schools of shad moving to the deeper waters. Schools of bass will bunch up on structure around the creek edges and points, looking for the highways that shad use to move back and forth. These will usually be creeks meandering through shallow flats. Look for ambush points along those routes.

There are a few different lures you can go with to have success during the fall. Around grass lines and structure, large spinnerbaits and topwater baits will do well. As the water continues to drop down even more in temperature, it may be a good time to try jigs and crank baits  A large jig worked down slope on a point will take large bass after large bass if you’re lucky enough to find them bunched up lying in wait.

Fish are aggressive in the fall, which means you should be, too. Dial them in with a shad imitator and you should have no trouble capitalizing on their instinct to feed and fatten up for the winter.