It’s right around Labor Day that many of you will start to see the beginning of some major changes in your favorite bass fisheries. The lakes and rivers turn over in places, leaves change colors after the first frost, and both the forage and bass begin to be in flux mode. With all this going on in fall, you’ll often find that one of the biggest catalysts of the bass movement is the winds of change. Water temperatures, water clarity, and daily bass feeding areas can change rapidly with the wind, so it’s wise to be ready with an arsenal of Culprit baits.
Traditional early fall bass behavior brings a high percentage of feeding bass to shallow water. So overall, what you’re looking for is a shallow situation and lure selection that is favorable for hungry bass, but all that may take some trial and error with weather changes. If baitfish or shad are the main forage, you’ll likely see scattered schooling activity in random places and at random times. It’s wise to be ready for that, but it’s difficult to solely rely on those bonus fish. A 5″ Pearl Culprit Minnow on a 1/4 ounce jighead, an Umbrella rig dressed with 3″ Culprit Minnows, or a white swim jig with a white Culprit DW3 trailer are all good choices to run through the schooling fish if they happen to show themselves. Wind often spikes or stalls bass’ schooling activity and this can change hourly. If crawfish or other creatures are the choice bass forage where you fish, then rock and hard cover may be the ticket for more consistent bites. Try pitching or casting at isolated cover on both windy and non-windy areas, but let the water clarity dictate your color choice. Don’t be afraid to have contrasting colors on identical setups rigged and ready for different situations. For example, if you’re pitching a 7″ Fat Max or 3.5″ Incredi-craw at isolated wood on rocky banks, then rig one up in a natural Watermelon color for non-windy or clear situations and one in a dark color like Black/ Blue Flake for areas where the wind is making the water a little dingy.
A simple color change may be all that it takes if the weather and wind is not extraordinary, but be aware that in severe weather changes the bass are more apt to change their entire seasonal locations overnight. This may call for entirely new tackle repertoire in the most drastic cases. Harsh, chilly conditions will make bass more secure with their move to the next seasonal stage (fall pattern baits and locations) but that doesn’t mean they’re not catchable. During their initial seasonal movements, these somewhat stunned fish will require finesse at times. If that’s the case, it’s wise to slow down in locations where you feel they are moving to and fish with scaled down versions of baits that worked in the summer. You may need to downsize to a 5″ T-Rex worm, a 6″ Original Culprit Worm, or a bite-size finesse jig with a DW2 trailer to keep the action going. All in all, most September situations usually just take a daily open mind, a few trial and error location-type moves by the angler, and some more precise bait choices to track down the biting bass once again.