A lot of science and big words are often used to explain the fall turnover, which can make it sound a little intimidating. But the gist is pretty simple. The water close to the surface begins to cool off, which makes it denser and therefore heavier. This pushes it down into the water that was denser and cooler below it, creating a mixing effect that stirs all sorts of stuff up.
The reason this is bad, the water that was down deeper all summer doesn’t have a lot of oxygen in it. So, the little plants, insects, baitfish and bass stayed up higher in the water column where the oxygen was richer. When all of the water mixes together, it makes the conditions unfavorable for bass and the rest of the food chain, scattering the bait and bass alike.
This is the fall turnover in a nutshell, and why it's bad for bass fishing. But it’s a natural part of the changing of the seasons and is an unavoidable annoyance we have to work our way through each year. Although it has to happen, it doesn’t have to derail your fall fishing. There are in fact several ways to beat the fall turnover, and we’ll be talking about a few of those today.
Avoid green or brown water
One visual indicator you can often look for is green or brown water. This isn’t always indicative of the turnover but can be. The water may be a little stained from recent rains. Or perhaps there’s an algae bloom happening. But as it pertains to the turnover, green or brown water could be caused by sediment that was stirred up when the water flipped. Feel free to give an area like this a try, but if you don’t get bit pretty quickly or see any bait activity, it’s probably a good idea to move on.
Look in various parts of the fishery
The good thing about most fisheries is that they’re pretty diverse. If you mainly fish ponds, the fall turnover will wreck the whole pond all at once, but the good news is that it’ll bounce back fairly quickly. On bigger bodies of water though, the turnover will often be in full swing on one part of the lake and not nearly as bad on another. If you run into the turnover on the bottom end of the lake for instance, trying running way up river.
Focusing your efforts shallow is a great way to avoid a lot of the damaging effects of the fall turnover. The main reason being, there’s less disparity between the temps along the surface and the temps along the bottom. Two feet of water doesn’t really flip like 20- feet during the turnover. Shallow water has a pretty even temp throughout, so it’s much less volatile.
Find running water
Looking for creeks and rivers with running water is another great way to skirt the fall turnover. This running water helps to dictate the water temperature, as opposed to being determined solely by the air temps, amount of sunshine and length of daylight hours. Because there is a steady supply of cooler water, the water temps have a more controlled descent through the fall.
Fish under the dam
The same basic principle makes fishing beneath dams a good idea. These are some of the most consistent water temperatures you’ll find across a fishery, throughout the year. The water may be 62 under a dam in the winter and only reach 69 degrees all summer. This is because the water is coming off the bottom of the above fishery, so there’s a near constant supply of cold-water year-round.
The turnover can make fishing tough, and avoiding it is the best way to solve the fall fishing puzzle. Look for visual indicators like green or brown water that may indicate large amounts of sediment and avoid these areas when possible, opting for other parts of a fishery. Other shallow locations or areas with regular current will often offer up much more stable conditions during the fall and thus minimize the damaging effects of the turnover.
The key is to not get discouraged by the tough fishing or overwhelmed by the science. Keep it simple and stay positive, there are bass biting somewhere all the time.