Where Do Bass Go in the Fall

In the Autumn season, air and water temperatures finally cool down and offer up some relief for cold-blooded largemouth and smallmouth bass looking to gorge themselves in preparation for winter temperatures. Where does Bass go in the Fall?

In the fall, a bass goes to shallower H2O to fatten up for the winter months, where small bait fish like shad are in the Fall transition but with quick access to deep H2O when sudden cold fronts can interrupt this process, sending bass back into deep H2O until the weather warms the shallows again.

The Fall season changes at different times for folks depending on where you are in the country, but with bass or any fish water, extreme temperatures that are too hot or too cold slow the action until there is a change or transition between seasons once again bringing life back to lakes, streams, and rivers.


Fall Transition Bass Fishing


It’s September, and nights start to cool when air temps start to drop, which will lower the water temps, and that brings on the Fall Transition. That means it’s all about bait fish! During the Fall transition period, Most Largemouth Bass will move into shallower water along structures and coastlines. Early fall, before the lake turns over, is when bass will move back into the same shallow areas where they were feeding before the spring spawn.

Shallow water heats up quicker on short days of fall, and that’s where bait fish will be because they are looking for food. In the fall, bass is fed more heavily to prepare for these cold winter months ahead. They will leave their deeper summer homes as the water cools to the mouths of creek channels, coastlines, or anywhere where the water is shallow, chasing active baitfish to feed on.

Smallmouth Bass typically will move to deeper water in packs or schools, looking for schools of baitfish in covers, structures, and ledges. Smallmouth bass that moves deeper will look for hard structures and will hang there in wait for baitfish that move in bunches using these hard lake structures as hunting grounds. If baitfish are not present in these areas, use reaction baits or jigs through the water column.

Covering lots of water is key in looking for schools of these fish. Use smaller bait lures, as smaller is better this time of the year.  For deeper baits, focus your attention on deep transitions near the edges of grass flats, channel bends, and humps. Bigger Bass will stay on the edges because they are eating bigger baitfish.

Crankbaits are good for fall Transition fishing because they bring on reactionary bites even when bass are not terribly hungry. The right Crankbait for the job is dictated by the depth of water you’re fishing and how aggressively the fish are reacting. By late Fall, bass metabolism starts to slow down, they’re trying to conserve their energy and calories without burning too much, so they’ll wait for something easier to come along.


Bass Fishing in 50-60 Degree Water


Because they are cold-blooded in nature,  they are more active in warmer water because their metabolisms are faster. Their bodies use more energy, so they need to eat more often; the best water temperature for bass fishing is when the water is 50-60 degrees or higher. The bass’s body adjusts where ever they are throughout the water column, but when water temperatures warm or cool to 50-60 degrees, magic happens, a transitional shift from winter to spring or summer to fall.

Bass can survive in most temperatures but will eat more or less, just as humans do. If it’s too cold or too hot, they won’t eat as much. After a long hot summer and the air and water start to cool down, some bass will come to life, and their appetite will increase along with their metabolism.   

These cooler water conditions get the blood flowing in the bass, causing them to want to feed. You will see more activity in the water as they come out of their slow, lethargic summer season and try to find something to put in their bellies.

While bass love to hide under-cover in other parts of the year, like winter and summer, it changes their main priority in the fall season when temperatures drop in the 50-60 degrees range, and they are focused on feeding.

When the water temperature is cooling down from the hot summer temps between 50 to 60 degrees, you most likely are fishing between seasons when there is less sunlight and a smaller window for fish to feed until it turns off but more dramatic and exciting when they turn it back on.

Shad, one of the bass’ most common food sources, often move to shallower water as the deep water gets cooler in the autumn. Bass will follow them there to gorge themselves. If the sun gets too bright in shallow water that bass will take some cover, but most of the time, bass will be on the chase for baitfish with winter in the near future when their metabolism changes gear again, and cold water temperatures take over.

This is a critical time when fish are on the move from a point between deeper water to shallower looking for bait fish. They are gorging themselves to prepare for winter or spawning in the Spring when the temperatures indicate a change in the seasons.


Fall bass Fishing Lures


Bass will eat pretty well in the Fall season They are more aggressive when the cooler air temperature comes in, dropping the water temps. Throw moving baits. Once you locate fish, try pitching and flipping soft plastics at them in cover. A wide arsenal of baits will find you bite in these temps. Baitfish are in abundance at this time, so the choice of lure needs to reflect that. Color is important, and staying natural is key.

  • Lipped Crankbaits
  • Lipless Crankbaits
  • Shallow Jerkbaits
  • Large Swimbaits
  • Topwater Bait

A red lipless crankbait does a great job of mimicking crayfish who are just popping out around late Fall. Another reason it works so well in 40-50 degree water temperatures is because they are great for fishing on the points or down banks where bass are congregating. You can fish them quickly in multiple different depths will bring in fish from the surrounding area if you don’t hit just the right spot.

I have heard so much about this Red Lipless Crankbait, but for some reason, I’ve never fished it. There is something about a crankbait that will just slay bass in 50-60 degree waters in Spring and Fall, So I really recommend you try it if you haven’t already! If lipless crankbaits aren’t your thing, you can also try any other type of crankbait or jerk bait for similar results. I’ll be using this guy in a few weeks when I fish bass as soon as the water temperatures cool down.
  • Deep Water Offshore Bait
Deep Lipless Crankbait

Rapala Shad Dancer Crankbait  

Already one of the deadliest deep-diving crankbaits on the market, the Rapala® Shad Dancer raises the bar wherever deep-bodied forage species roam. With its reconfigured, shad-style body profile, this silent swimmer exhibits the characteristics that have made the classic Tail Dancer so successful for casting and trolling: the steep-angled dives, the aggressive swim track, and of course, the signature hard-thumping, sweeping tail action.

  • Shallow Water Baits
Strike King KVD 8.0 Magnum Squarebill Crankbait
Shallow Squarebill Crankbait

Strike King KVD Square Bill Silent Crankbait

“The Silent Assassin” Designed to the exact specifications of the 4-time Bassmaster Classic® champ, the Strike King® KVD Square Bill Silent Crankbait is a silent assassin, perfect for Kevin VanDam’s style of shallow-water power fishing. In addition to enabling this KVD hard bait to bounce and deflect off the cover, the square bill design also forces it to constantly wander with an erratic searching action while still running true.

Fish that move shallow in the fall transition are there to eat baitfish.  Fish in shallow water will herd baitfish toward the back coves and shorelines. It’s important that you cover water quickly because the fish are congregating in schools. Fish group together in small pockets and cuts, and predatory fish like largemouth bass will lay in wait and ambush what comes their way.

They can be found in 5 ft of water or less, looking for shad and other baitfish. They will continue to stay in these low depths until temperatures cool further before moving out to deeper areas. For shallow fish, focus on lanes in the grass and the first hardcover near grass flats.

The common denominator of Fall largemouth and Smallmouth Bass Fishing is “fish where the bait is,” and in the warmer temperatures during sunshine-soaked daylight hours, bait fish will be in the shallower waters at least until the chillier nighttime hours come. The fall season is the most active time of the year, leading into the most inactive season of the year, Winter and Winters Coming. 



October Bass Fishing

For great information on Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass stay right here on MyWaterEarth&Sky like this one-Largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing might just be the most popular freshwater sport fish in the country with most seasons during the year open for anglers to get out on……Continue reading



JimGalloway Author/Editor




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