Fall has settled in to stay at this point. Thanksgiving is right around the corner; football season is winding down, and the cooler temps have become well established by now. It’s full-blown fall.
Which means, yes… the warm days of summer are behind us now. A fond memory growing more distant everyday, as we begin to daydream about summer days to come.
But cheer up! The fishing is on fire.
Fall is one of the best times to fish for bass, and there are a handful of baits almost all of us can benefit from. These are the five baits you should have in your fall tackle box.
Probably the best fall bait across the largest swathe of the bass fishing population, the lipless crankbait perfectly mimics a shad in mid-range to shallow water. If your local fall forage isn’t primarily shad, then perhaps the lipless crankbait is slightly less effective. But for the rest of us, this is the premiere fall bait.
The profile of a lipless crankbait makes it a great shad imitator, but this bait’s versatility is what really makes it ideal for fall fishing. As bas transition towards the shallows in pursuit of shad, they can often be found in a wide range of depths. The lipless gives you a great bait to slow roll or yo-yo in 10- feet or more of water as well as burn across a flat that’s only a foot deep.
The squarebill is another workhorse when it comes to fall fishing. Bass flood the shallows in the fall. And whether they're targeting bream, shad, crawfish or some other forage, there’s likely a squarebill in a particular color pattern that’s perfect for the job.
Pick a color that matches your local hatch, and then hold on tight. Squarebills work well around docks, laydowns, stumps, riprap, rock and clean bottoms, making them great tools for extracting bass that are hunkered down around cover or simply cruising around in pursuit of a meal.
Another fall favorite, the spinnerbait is a good mix between a lipless crankbait and a squarebill. Like a lipless, a spinnerbait can be fished through a wider portion of the water column than a squarebill. But like a squarebill, a spinnerbait is more effective at coming through cover compared to a lipless.
Spinnerbaits can also be fished at various speeds, and even pumped and paused so that the blades can imitate a fleeing or dying baitfish. Being able to incorporate action into a spinnerbait and speed it up and slow it down makes this a great bait to burn along the surface over deep water in the early fall and then slow roll in the shallows as the temps bottom out.
The importance of a slower moving, non-shad imitating bait like a flipping jig or football jig is often overlooked in the fall. As bass make their way up out of the depths and towards the shallows, dragging a football jig across primary and secondary points and down 45-degree banks can be really effective.
And then as the bass really start to hit the bank, they often hold tight to cover in order to ambush prey. A flipping jig is then the perfect tool to skip under docks or pitch along docks posts, stumps and other shallow cover.
Topwater/medium diving crankbait
For the fifth selection, we decided to go with an option of two different baits. If it’s still early in the fall, a topwater like a Spook, popper, buzzbait or Whopper Plopper is a great addition to the lineup. These baits can be used shallow or deep to lure bass to the surface.
But as the water temps cool, the bass become weary of breaking the surface and topwaters become less effective. This is when a medium diving crankbait can really shine. Fishing a crankbait along rock, wood and submerged vegetation in 6- to 10- feet of water can be a really effective way to get bit in the fall.
An angler can do a whole lot of damage in the fall with just five or six of these baits. With the topwater, you can cover the surface and even draw fish up from several feet below. The spinnerbait and lipless give you lures suited for a wide range of depths.
A squarebill and flipping jig really allow you to pick apart the shallows. And the football jig and medium diving crankbait give the bass something to look at that might be hanging out in the slightly deeper water. With this simple lineup of baits, you can build an extremely effective and diverse fall tackle box.