Finding bass becomes much more difficult when lake levels start falling in October. These water levels seem to congregate the bass on specific spots. In the next few paragraphs, I am going to help you catch more bass this fall.
I believe it’s a good thing to see the water levels to begin to fall, because the fish are getting tighter to cover, and they get harder to find. Once you find them; you can have a real good day, but you might not find them as quickly as a professional angler will. Many people are fishing right on top of them and just cannot get them to bite. Falling water levels make the bass move, but not too far. Like us humans, an example would be moving from the kitchen into the living room. These fish are not going to move more than 50 yards in a day. Some anglers believe a fish will move a long way away, but they don’t move that far really quickly. Don’t get me wrong, they will move up to a mile away, but it will take days for this to happen.
On my area lake, Lake Sidney Lanier, I have seen bass move 2 to 3 feet deeper as the day goes on with the lake level falling. I caught fish in the 3 to 5 feet depth in the morning, and then by midday; they might have backed out another foot or so. By late afternoon, those same fish can sometimes be found in 5 to 8 feet deeper water. I still fish shallow water, but I am constantly looking at my Lowrance unit for fish and bait fish. If you can stay in constant contact with the moving bass, you can catch them. If you see them and they are biting, adjust your pattern. If they quit biting, move a few feet and look for a change in the bottom and see if you can relocate those same fish again.
Don’t try to over adjust your fishing to the falling water levels. Move your boat out and fish 2 or 3 feet deeper to locate those moving fish. For years, I have seen too many people give up on their fish and move out to deep water. Don’t give up to quick, those fish are there, and you can locate them. Remember Mr. Bass has a small brain; you can out think him! These fish are not going to run ½ mile to find another flat to live on. They are going to swim a short distance to relocate and find some more food.
If you cannot find the fish 3-5 feet deeper, your next step is to locate some kind of drop off close by where the fish are eating. This could be a depth change of no more than 1 foot off a tapering bank. Many anglers think a ledge drop off is a 5 to 10-foot drop off. My best luck has come from a slow drop off of 1-3 deep. This is a good ambush point for bass to hide out at just out of the site of the bait. If there is bait fish near the drop-off, Mr. Bass is not far away.
Many times when I move out to the drop off, I cannot use the same crankbait I caught them in the morning on. Now I might need to swap to a crankbait that runs deeper or even swapping to a different tactic by throwing a soft plastic like the Strike King Ocho, which is a stick style bait. After moving to a new spot thoroughly work this area over at varied angles. Remember what I said earlier, if you see bait, the bass are there; you just have to figure out what they want to eat right then.
If you are using crankbaits concentrate on changing depth of the bait. If you find a color or pattern they are eating, do not change colors – change the depth of the bait. On Lake Sidney Lanier, one of my favorite colors is “Blue Gizzard Shad.” I know this color works 98% of the time. I just have to get the bait to the right depth where the fish are eating. If the 2-3-foot crankbait is not working, swap to the 5-7-foot depth running crankbait. If that middle depth crankbait does not work change to a lure that is bouncing off the bottom either a deep diver or a plastic worm. One of my favorite places on Lake Sidney Lanier is a big (boulder) rocky type point that’s close to a red clay bank when the water starts falling. This place is perfect because 12 feet off the bank, there is another 2-3-foot drop off, then if you go another 50 yards the bottom falls off into deeper water.
Catching bass in the fall should not be a big giant guessing game with the right electronics and the correct baits. Bass will move from the banks out to the deeper water at a slow pace when the lake levels begin falling in the fall (I made a funny!).
Go fishing with these tips, they will help you can catch more bass!
About the author: Tom is a freelance outdoor writer and full time Firefighter, Paramedic/Lieutenant in Georgia for the past 28 years. He has been working and consulting in the Outdoor Industry for over 18 years and is currently creating and managing a pro fishing team, developing new products, promoting products through demonstrations, designing packaging, and he participates in different forums, radio & television shows. Tom and his wife, Kim are volunteers with Operation One Voice. They live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their lab “Jake”.