Fall Fishing Tips for Bass: The Ultimate Guide!

Fall Fishing Tips for Bass

Every angler knows that some weather conditions, and seasons, are better for fishing than others.

The same goes for fish species, because they have certain behavioural patterns that affect their willingness to bite your bait.

You can fish for bass during different seasons, and every season has certain rules you should follow in order to increase you bass fishing success.

Here I am going to give you some fall fishing tips for bass in the following chapters:



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Is Fall a Good Time to Bass Fish?

Bass, as almost every other fish reacts to seasonal water temperature changes and other meteorological conditions.

In fall, days become shorter, air temperature decreases, and fish know that it is time to get ready for winter.

Also, fall is a season when rains and storms are more frequent than in summer.

Fishing conditions in early fall are quite similar to those in late summer, while the late fall resembles winter.

Fall is a great season to fish for bass ...

Bass is active year-round if the conditions are right, but unlike some other species that prefer summer, the best bass fishing season occurs in spring and fall.

As the water cools down, bass will become extremely active and aggressive. Smaller specimens can be found in extremely shallow water, while larger specimens will be a few feet deeper.

During fall, bass will start aggressively hunting for prey, like crawfish or shad, to gain as much nutritive value and calories for the winter.

Although fall is great for bass fishing, don’t expect this to be easy. Bass can be quite unpredictable and hard to catch.

... be prepared for a hard fight.

During fall, bass in certain locations tend to be scattered, instead of grouped, like in summer.

Scattered bass is harder to find so try to search for clues, like baitfish, to locate your targeted fish.

When it comes to location, try fishing in green weeds if there is some. Bass will frequently be present in those places.

Another great location is around piles of rocks, because rocks are good heat and shelter providers.

When the water cools down, baitfish will frequently spend time around rocks and the hungry bass will follow.

To be successful, you will have to change your approach and technique according to a season, and that goes for fall too.

I will list the best baits and some fall fishing tips for bass later on.

Where do Bass go During the Fall Transition?

Every year, when the days become shorter and the water begins to cool down, fall transition occurs. And to know how to take advantage of it, you have to understand the process ...

Distribution of oxygen in the water levels varies, and in summer, layers that are coolest and are not under the direct influence of sunlight, will have the most oxygen. Those layers are usually the deep ones.

Bass tends to be where prey is, and baitfish like to spend time in the water with a lot of oxygen.

When nights become longer and the day shortens, the fall transition starts ...

During this time, baitfish will migrate up the rivers and streams: baitfish will try to find suitable areas before winter and that are usually “pockets” of water. Water temperature lowers and shallow parts are warm enough and oxygen rich, to accommodate baitfish.

Bass will follow the prey. If you know the area well, and fish there for years, you will notice similar patterns, year after year. It doesn’t mean they will always be at the exactly the same spot, but you will be able to find them along the route.

In the early fall, bass will follow the baitfish to shallower water.

As the winter approaches, in late fall, baitfish metabolism will slow down and they will start preparing for winter. As the fall goes, baitfish will go deeper and deeper because they will spend the winter there, especially if the water surface can freeze. Deeper layers are the safest spot.

This migration that occurs from summer deeper hiding places to shallower water in fall is called the fall transition.

And it means a lot to an angler. It is important to recognize when it starts and to adjust jour fishing technique.

The simple rule to follow is that the bass is there where the baitfish are.

And the best thing about fall fishing for bass is that bass is more focused on food than on hiding under covers.

How Deep do Bass Go in the Fall?

This question is hard to answer because it depends on a lot of factors. Size of the water area, maximum depth, climate, baitfish species, oxygen levels, clarity of water, and even pH of the water. If the water is shallow in the area, the deepest location will actually be shallow when compared to some deep river.

But to get the idea how it works, I will try to explain it in accordance to temperature.

Bass need warmth and food. They also need oxygen. In spring, as the temperature rises, bass starts to eat more, because baitfish also becomes active in the shallow water. As the spring goes on, spawn period comes, and for successful spawn, bass needs shallow, sunny and warm water. As the mid-summer begins to be very hot, baitfish and bass will go deeper. When summer comes to an end, baitfish and bass will come to shallow parts again.

Bass is very sensitive to temperature and oxygen level changes. In deep and clear lakes and ponds, you can find bass up to 25 feet below the surfaces, sometimes even deeper, but shallow and muddy lakes will rarely have good conditions below 15 feet. It depends on a location and world region too.

In fall, they will come to as shallow places as they can, following baitfish, frogs, and similar prey. They will frequently be present around shallow covers. At this time, you can find them in just a few feet deep areas. Smaller bass can be seen in water that is 2 feet deep, while larger ones tend to be a bit deeper.

When the water temperature starts dropping again before winter, the bass will start migrating to deeper areas, usually when the temperature drops below 10 degrees Celsius.

As bass doesn’t like the water to be very cold, they don’t like it too hot either, so you will find them in the shallow if the water temperature is below 30 Celsius.

What do Bass Feed on in the Fall?

During fall, bass needs to fatten up for the winter and it will not be picky with food.

They will eat anything and everything. Their favourite food is shad, if available, but they will also eat other small baitfish like bluegill and minnows. Bass will also eat crawfish or a small frog if available. Besides that, they will even eat occasional insects that end up in the water. However, shad is their favourite food.

Shad feed on plankton and swim into the incoming water, which means up the stream, if the water is flowing. That means that the bass will follow the same path.

When it comes to your lure presentation, you can play with various options (more about this is in the next chapter).

However, this is the great time to try fly fishing for bass. As already mentioned, bass will gladly eat an insect in the water. Especially fly lures made at home.

This tactic is great for early morning bass fishing, when insects naturally fall into the water.

Practice this during early fall because those conditions are still similar to the summer ones. When it is still warm, bass will be active in the morning.

Of course, you can fly fish during fall in other times of the day but following natural insect pattern increases your chances.

Is it Possible to Fly Fishing for Bass in the Fall?

Fly fishing for bass in the fall is one of the best bass fishing techniques. I already mentioned that bass will eat insects that fall into the water, and that frequently occurs early in the morning.

Of course, fly fishing for bass should follow natural life cycles of insects. Early in the spring, insects still thrive in nature. As fall goes by and winter approaches, number of insects will drastically decrease. When this happens, fly fishing won’t be successful anymore. And the reason for that is not just the lack of insects, it is actually decrease in temperature. Of course, some anglers will continue fly fishing in winter, but fish is slower, it takes longer for it to strike, and it can turn into a very annoying task.

Best fall bass fishing techniques, at least when it comes to fly fishing, depend on your fly selection. You can use various ones, but as bass prefers baitfish over insects, use the ones that imitate them.

Fall bass fishing techniques are tricky because you have to determine the depth correctly. Topwater may work well, but if bass is deeper under surface, you will have to let bigger flies sink. This second option is hard, and for a beginner fly angler it would be wise to take advantage of bass congregation in shallower areas during specific times of transition. You can see the details in the previous chapters.

Fall Fishing Tips for Bass - Fly

What are the Best [Early vs Late] Fall Bass Fishing Techniques? [How To?]

How to fish for bass in the fall depends on a specific part of this season. 

When bass are feeding aggressively early in the fall, you can use all kinds of lures and baits.

Jerkbaits, topwater, spinnerbaits…  All of them will do the job. At this time bass is aggressively catching baitfish, so you can make aggressive and fast presentations. This is actually a very good time for beginners as bass is not picky so you can make a mistake and still catch a fish.

But as the temperatures drop, so does bass activity. At this time, you have to slow down your presentations. But, you don’t necessarily have to downsize your lures. Bass wants easy but large and tasty prey. Complete downsizing of both speed and size is reserved for wintertime.

Both early and late fall have one thing in common, and that is that bass is where the baitfish are. But, that location varies. Earlier in the fall you will find them in shallower waters, while late in the fall they will be located deeper. Anglers have to adjust the depth, not just lure selection and presentation.

What is the Best Lure and Bait for Bass in the Fall?

One more great thing about bass fishing in fall is that bass finished spawn and fry guarding period. When that is over, extreme hunger kicks in.

Play with lure types and colours, as well as with lure sizes.

Among all of the fall fishing tips for bass, the most important ones are those about lure choice, and here is a list of the five best ones:


Along the riverbank or a lake shore, you can find frogs in thick vegetations. The same goes for insects. Buzzbaits and frogs are ideal to trick the bass in that area and make it bite your lure.

Buzzbaits will attract bass with the erratic movement and the buzzing sound. The blades keep them on the surface when you move them and the bass will be very attracted. However, avoid very thick vegetation with those.

Frogs are great for grassy areas where a hungry bass lurks its prey.


Lipless carnkbaits are great for spring and fall, when bass migrates in the shallow water.

Use the one that resembles shad. Use bigger ones for deeper areas and a bit smaller for the shallow. Find a spot in between covers and work your lure. There is a great chance that the bass will bite.

Avoid using them in weedy areas as they will constantly get tangled in grass. These lures are ideal for open patches and around deeper cover.


Spinnerbaits are a great option for fall fishing for bass. This is a great option when you locate bass on the clear patch. Use it in a similar way as a crankbait but a bit higher in the water.

When topwater is not working but bass wants to feed up the water, present this lure above the lurking bass and move it up trough the water. It should be very effective.

When it comes to colours try with metal, like silver or gold.

Fall Fishing Tips for Bass - Spinnerbait


Soft plastic worms are frequently forgotten in fall, but always have at least one in your tackle box, in case you need it.

Bass can behave crazy in the fall, and no matter how well prepared you are, it can happen that nothing works. Ant that is the time to take out the worm and present to the bass.


The last, but not the least, is a jerkbait. Choose those that look natural and resemble the real prey. If you see small fish jumping around, there is a chance that the bass is near and that is the best time to take a jerkbait and present it.

This is the best bait for horizontal presentation. Practice snap and then pause retrieve, and this erratic movement will drive the bass crazy.

Additional tip for the jerkbait is that you should match your movements to fish energy level according to a water temperature.

In the beginning of fall, be very energetic, but as the water temperatures drop, when bass start going deeper again, use slower and more controlled movements that are equal to those made by slow moving baitfish.

Fall Fishing Tips for Bass - Bait and Lure

Difference Between Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass Fishing in the Fall?

Not all bass species are the same, and when you compare two most popular ones, there are some differences.

Smallmouths prefer colder temperatures than largemouths. Largemouths are frequently easier to find (at least in early fall) because they tend to spend time in covers. They also avoid strong currents. Covers are also attractive to smallmouths, but they spend time around them, not necessarily in them. They also like to chase fish into the open, away from deep and rocky structures.

Largemouth bass fishing in the fall can be very successful around docks and similar structures after the sun rises. Try flipping around covers and structures which are likely to hide big bass. Fall largemouth bass fishing is not very different from fall smallmouth bass fishing, although these small variations in location and depth can have a large influence.

Smallmouth bass fishing in the fall can be very successful if you present swimbaits deeper in the water, near open areas that are close to the rock piles or hiding spots.

Both of these species can live in the same waters, but they will not spend time in the exactly the same area.

In my experience, as smallmouth likes colder water and stays active longer in the fall, you have a bit better chance if targeting smallmouth.

Best Tips to Fish for Bass in the Fall

In the end, I have a few fall fishing tips for bass. Try to implement some of them on your next fishing trip and see how it works:

Bass see colours differently when the pH of the water changes together with the temperature. Some anglers don’t agree with this statement and think it has no influence but changing the bait colour to make it more visible to bass often works. What looks bright yellow to the human eye can look dark green to bass. And if that is the colour of the water, your lure becomes invisible. Try to change the lure colour if there is no biting action.

• Make your lure movements energetic. Water is full of life and prey and your lure has to stand out in the crowd.

• Don’t be afraid to use bigger lures as the bass will gladly bite on a tasty looking large one.

• When fishing during morning or evening, make sure the bass doesn’t see your moving shadow in the water. They are aware of their surroundings.

• If the water is clear, you can move your lure faster across the body of water, and cover greater distances in less time because your lure will be visible to bass form a greater distance.

• When the water temperatures drop to about 15-17 Celsius, bass tend to be in locations that are 8-10 feet deep.

• Fish in windy and cloudy conditions – bass will follow baitfish into shallow areas. Sunny and calm days make the baitfish, and bass as a result, less active.

Fall Fishing Tips for Bass - Best Tips


When you think the summer is over and your fishing adventures are coming to an end for this year, keep in mind the best bass season is just beginning!

Get to know the local waters, observe the fish behaviour and with experience you will soon learn the fall transition patterns.

Use those natural migrations into your advantage by following the fall fishing tips for bass written in this article.

And one more advice in the end, try to search for bass in the backs of coves, small bays and creek arms, as those places are frequently full of baitfish.

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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