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Late Fall into Winter
Posted by mmagnone, 11/21/2015 08:56:14 AM
Well it's no surprise, here on the West Coast, the change from Summer to Winter can happen literally in a 1 week window. Anglers are often left scratching their heads wondering how in the hell they're going to get these fish to bite when the fish are noticeably affected by the cooling water trends. It's no mystery when you look at the bank and notice the vast majority of fish to be "packing up" the first indicator in the back of your head is to stay shallow and fish reaction baits. Not one single person truly knows what fish really think and how they interact with their underwater environment, but we all have our own educated guesses that have instilled confidence in our brains from prior circumstances.

I truly believe the fish we find roaming the banks this time of year aren't so much in the typical Fall feeding binge but are seeking optimal water to stage for the long drawn out Winter. Keep in mind, I firmly believe in the Fall Transition, but in the late Fall, I believe Bass are seeking out the warmest water they can find and that's more often times on the bank. Before the water temperature significantly cools, Bass are triggered to seek out more hospitable water, often times roaming towards hard cover and structure. Witnessing schools of Bass patrolling dams, in shallow brush or under docks are common but each piece of these structures/covers provide warmth PLUS a positive feeding opportunity.

Priority #1
Locate the warmest water. When seeking areas with the highest temperature range, generally focus on the North West corners of generally all lakes. These areas have the most direct sunlight throughout the day. Hard rock, wood, and grass all provide warmth and without a doubt those fish will be around.

Priority #2
Identify and seek the forage the fish are currently feeding on. Without a food source, the warmest, most beautiful best set up spot can be void of life. Bass will always put themselves in the position to feed to the best of their abilities. It's no different than you or I. We're not going to purchase a new home and forget to install a refrigerator and stock it with food. To live, we need food and so do the Bass.

Priority #3
Identify the part of the water column the fish are hanging in and then figure out their moods. No sense in throwing a topwater plug on the surface when the Bass are positioned in 40' of water on a ledge. Sure, you can grind that surface bait all day long and possibly produce a bite, but the better plan would be to fish a bait on or near the bottom to draw more bites. If the fish are on the surface or mid water column, no need to throw a Jig or Texas Rig on the bottom. Yes, you will always produce fish by working structure, but by nature Bass have eyes on the top of their heads generally forcing them to look up. Without a doubt there are exceptions to thr rule, but be realistic in your approace.

Most anglers feel the need to force feed their fish and I'm extremely guilty of this. Sure, if you grind a bait all day long you're bound to get a bite, but there are always tools in your tackle box that will produce greater success.

In conclusion, fishing the Late Fall to Winter doesn't have to be as difficult as it may seem. You're going to see Bass cruising the bank and you'll most definitely see Bass positioned on deeper structure. The key is to find the warmest water in the area you're fishing, identify what they're feeding on and then present the bait as close to the zone the fish are actively feeding in. Keep in mind, these late season fish aren't going to feed as heavily and fast paced as they do in the Spring and Summer, but with patience you'll be able to draw a couple bites and those few bites could be some of the best quality of the season.

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