When the water temperature drops in the fall, smallmouth bass begins to migrate from their summer hangouts to areas near deep holes, where they’ll spend the winter. In mid to late September, the fall smallmouth bass starts to feed on minnows and continues feeding often late into the fall.
So, what do you use for smallmouth in the fall? As the water cools in the late fall, smallmouth bass starts to feed ravenously to survive the long winter. To catch smallmouth bass in the fall, use lures that mimic its prey. Spinnerbaits, jerk baits, shallow crankbaits, and soft swimbaits mimic the movement of baitfish, eliciting a bite.
This article will tell you more about fall smallmouth bass patterns and share valuable tips for productive smallmouth fishing.
What Is Smallmouth Bass?
The smallmouth bass is a freshwater fish species with a slender but muscular fusiform body shape. The smallmouth bass is a popular game fish sought by anglers throughout North America.
This fish species prefer living in clearer waters than largemouth bass. It is most commonly found in streams, rivers, rocky areas, stumps, and sandy bottoms of lakes and reservoirs.
When the weather starts getting colder in late summer or early fall, smallmouth bass migrates in search of deeper pools in which they can spend winter. Once smallmouth bass enters a semi-hibernation state, they move sluggishly and feed very little until warmer weather.
Where Does Smallmouth Bass Go in Late Fall?
As the water temperature drops below 60°F, the smallmouth’s activity levels drop. The smallmouth bass moves to deeper water in fall, where they spend cold winter months hibernating.
Fall smallmouth bass prefers the same type of structures as in summer, including boulders, shallow shoals, and wood that breaks the current. These fish are attracted to structures near deepwater areas and seek cover in deep holes as winter approaches.
How Do You Fish for Smallmouth Bass in the Fall?
Fall is one of the best times for smallmouth bass fishing. At this time, waters are full of shad minnows, which the smallmouth bass feeds on, and offer fantastic fishing opportunities throughout the month of October and sometimes even November.
Here’s how to catch smallmouth bass in the fall, when the weather gets colder:
While the finesse approach is the best for catching cold-water smallmouth bass, jigging the bait is the best for attracting aggressive reaction bites. In late fall, smallmouths tend to stay in big schools that are easy to locate using a sonar.
Once you’ve located the fish, choose a tackle that will attract the smallmouth’s attention and make it bite. Keep the lure’s color simple by matching it with the color of the forage found in the water. An extra flash of gold or silver color on the bait helps attract the fish’s attention.
Throw a cast to the structure and give the rod a sharp snap when the bait hits the bottom. Continue jiggling until the lure is back at the boat, and repeat the process to encourage the fish to bite.
A combination of rod, reel, line, sinker, hook, and sonar is important for the success of drop-shotting for fall smallmouth bass. Use the lightest weight, to make the lure swim and move in the water.
When fishing structures, drop-shot rigs can find a target almost immediately. The great thing about drop-shotting is that you don’t have to manipulate the bait to catch the fish. The water movement will cause the bait to bounce and quiver, doing all the work for you.
5 Useful Tips on How to Catch Smallmouth Bass
Here are the ultimate tips on how to catch smallmouth bass in the fall:
1. Fish Deep
The smallmouth bass moves in deeper waters as the water’s temperature drops. Look for gravel and rock shoals 20 to 30 feet deep and start casting your line there.
2. Check the Drop-offs
Drop-offs are home to pelagic fish and provide feeding opportunities to fall smallmouth bass. Try casting your line at various depths along the drop-offs, to catch fall smallmouths.
3. Speed Up
Smallmouth bass feeds aggressively during fall, so speedier baits are more likely to provoke a biting reaction. Work your lures in rips and jigs with frequent pauses or speed-retrieve your bait to encourage smallmouths to give chase.
4. Keep Moving
The fall smallmouth bass is a voracious eater that gathers in schools and roams around. These schools stay near a structure until they eat the entire grub and then move on, looking for another place to eat. If you’ve been casting for hours with no luck, chances are the smallmouth bass has moved to another location.
5. Fish Shallow on Small Waters
Smaller rivers, ponds, and reservoirs cool down faster than larger bodies of water, which affects the behavior of the smallmouth bass. The smallmouth will move to shallow weed edges and rock covers because small panfish tend to stay close to shoreline cover.
How Deep Are Smallmouth Bass in the Fall?
In late fall, waters from 20 to 40 feet deep are the home to a large number of fish. The depth of the wintering areas will differ from one river to the next or from one lake to another, depending on the depth of the water.
What Is the Difference Between Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass?
The biggest difference between largemouth and smallmouth bass is their size. The largemouth bass grows a lot bigger than the smallmouth bass.
The largemouth’s jaw bone extends back beyond the eyes, while the smallmouth bass has a jaw bone that extends to the middle of the eyes. The largemouth bass has a broad bronze stripe and is green in color, while the smallmouth bass is brown in color with vertical stripes.
With the drop in temperature, the smallmouth bass moves to deeper waters and starts to feed aggressively to survive the upcoming winter. Fall smallmouth fishing can be extremely productive if you know where the fish are and how to catch them.
Look for areas with weed lines, drop-offs, and scattered rocks, as this is where the smallmouth bass likes to feed.