Before long, the weather will start to cool — and with it, so will the water temperatures. Those declining temps will let the bass know that the fall season is upon us. And when that happens, we need to start looking for bass in different areas.
The summer months usually see us using techniques such as flipping or hunting for bass in heavy cover. The cooler weather will bring those bass out to the edges of grasslines early in the day. It may move them into cover as the sun gets up, or out into deeper water if the day has some cloud cover. Either way, they need to be sought out.
Simply put, it’s a time of year when bass can be found a little more readily because they are moving. In order to do that, you have to be willing to move around and fish moving baits.
One of the key spots for me is deep shorelines. I know Florida is not littered with them, but if you fish on some of the bigger water like Kissimmee, Okeechobee, or the St. John’s River, you can find deeper water in the rivers or canals that link lakes together. Finding those that are productive can put you on the catch of a lifetime — if you’re willing to keep moving and looking for those little oddities that will hold bass.
Current in river systems or connecting canals can be huge. Any little point that sticks out from the shoreline can be a potential hotspot. Bass will hold up on those little points and ambush bait as it comes by. Always remember, largemouths don’t really like to linger in the current. They would sooner feed up on whatever washes by them and run back to a slower spot. Fighting the current has never been the usual MO for feeding bass.
As usual, there are some key baits to fish these types of areas. First, always check your depth. If you are shallower than 4 feet, a square-billed crankbait that runs less than 3 feet is a great choice. If you have cover in the area, you can always explore with a spinnerbait first to see what obstacles may be down there. Once you know you can get a crankbait through there, that will be your best option to trigger bass to bite.
One key factor is water clarity. That will determine the color you want to throw. In stained water, use colors that can throw shadows such as yellows, greens and browns. If the water is clear, those shiny chromed baits can be electric. Just don’t stray too far from the color of their natural the food source. If you can match it, that’s always your best option.
If you’re on a lake that doesn’t have any canal openings or moving water to fish, find structure such as grasslines that have those longer points. Finding “different” areas in a straight line of grass is always a good plan. The thicker the grass is out on the point, the better off you will be. That break in the grass will give the bass and the baitfish something to orient themselves to. If you can find any cover under the water around those points, that will only enhance your chances to locate bass.
I haven’t talked too much about depthfinders or electronics. Some folks simply can’t afford the prices on some of these side-scanning, bottom-identifying units that are out on the market today. If you do have a depthfinder, make sure you know how to read it and identify solid bottom. You can save yourself a lot of trouble trying to find bass if you can stay away from soft mucky areas. Those places have a diminished oxygen supply due to the dying vegetation, so they are never a great spot to spend much time on.
If you are fortunate enough to have a side-scanning unit, turn that baby on. It can show you things you may never knew were there. It takes a minute to learn how to read it — but once you do, it will open things up immensely for you.
Just remember to keep the scanning range down to a lower number so you’re not looking 250 feet on either side of your boat. It won’t identify things as clearly at that distance. If you can keep it to 100 feet, that seems to work well, especially when you are running around the edges of grass looking for cover out in front of irregular points.
It may be hot today, but the cooler weather (well, cool as far as Florida bass are concerned) is coming. Make sure you are prepared to hunt those bass down once they get on the move. If you can locate some key areas, you will be able to target bass all the way through the winter months.
Greg Bartz is a tournament bass fisherman based in Lakeland. Greg fishes lakes throughout Florida’s Heartland and enjoys RV travel around the Southeast with his wife and tournament partner, Missy. Contact him at Greg.Bartz@SummitHoldings.com.