By: Shaye Baker
Match the hatch. You’ve likely heard that phrase a hundred times in reference to fall fishing. But even if you haven’t, no worries because the concept is simple. Basically, there’s an abundance of bait shallow in the fall, especially threadfin shad across many fisheries. That’s the ‘hatch’. And because it is so prevalent, you want to pick a lure that is very similar. That’s the ‘match’.
When it comes to crankbait fishing in the fall, matching the hatch is standard operating procedure most of the time. However, there are times when there is just too much of the real thing around, and you’re better off going in a different direction altogether.
Matching the Hatch
Crankbait Color for Fall Bass
There’s more to matching the hatch than you might think. Color selection is obviously critical, and a good place to start. You want to pick a lure that has a very similar color to the actual baitfish present in the water. The schools of shad are often so thick, and you can get a color that’s super close look at the real thing. A good general rule of thumb when fishing around shad is to go with something white or silver, perhaps with a light blue or olive back.
Crankbait Size for Fall Bass
Size matters as well, and is perhaps even more important than color at times. Shad will often be a little undersized in the fall, so going with a crankbait that has a body around 2 inches long is often more productive than a 3-inch body. And there have been times where an even smaller crankbait works really well.
Other Crankbait Colors to Consider
There comes a point every fall, at least across a large portion of the country, when there’s so much bait present that you’re better staying away from the match the hatch method. Picking something like a chartreuse or black back, even in fairly clear water, gives the fish something different to look at and helps your presentation standout in the crowd.
You’ll also see that it’s often less about the color and more about the contrast. The chartreuse sides and black back give a flash as the bait rocks top to bottom. So, where a more natural looking bait would blend in better with the forage around it, the stark contrast in the two colors along with the rolling action of a crankbait sets the bait apart in the school and helps a bass zero in on it better— likely believing the bait has suffered some sort of injury to cause it to swim abnormally and thus be more susceptible to attack.
Where to Fish a Fall Crankbait
In the fall, you can find fish throughout an extensive portion of the water column, with large populations of bass from less than a foot of water out to 15 feet. Targeting fish at different depths is a good way to ensure you’ll stay on fish throughout the fall. This time of year, bass are constantly on the move. So, finding a secondary point—a rocky 45-degree bank or shallow flat where a few fish are present—ensures you’ll catch something somewhere almost every time you go as different schools of fish transition through those areas.
Wood, grass, and rock are all great for fishing in the fall, but I’d venture to say wood is best. Not sure exactly why that is, but from decades of fall fishing I’ve found that laydowns, stumps, brush piles, wooden piers and even lone sticks on shallow flats are all magnets for bass in the fall. A good riprap bank or grass line will hold fish as well, but there’s something about wood that sets up great for fall fishing, especially with a squarebill or medium diving crankbait.
Final Fall Crankbait Tips
If you hit the water this fall and want to sharpen up on your crankbait fishing skills, start off with a few different crankbaits on deck. Having a squarebill tied on is a good starting point, as is going with a natural color similar in size and shape to the baitfish present.
You’ll also want to have a medium diver or two that can reach the 12-foot range like the MONSTERBASS Seeker 12. Don’t forget to pack an extra small crankbait in the box in case it’s a particularly tough day on the water. Having these options on deck or in the tackle box will give you a good chance to dial in fish in a few different places—remember that wood is your best friend in the fall. Then you’ll simply be tasked with staying on them throughout the rest of the season.