More Fall Kayak Bass Fishing Tips
Posted on October 10 2017
By Jay Suhsen, 2017 Hi Tempo / Hobie Fishing Team
Fall fishing is divided into two categories
There's a pre-turnover period and a post-turnover period. Therefore, I can't have a discussion about fall fishing without first discussing the fall turnover.
In the summer, the warm weather stratifies the lake into three different zones. There's the upper Zone and then the thermocline and a lower Zone. The thermocline traps sulfur gases in the lower layer that would otherwise have escaped and traps the bass in the upper layer. In the fall when the upper layer cools and becomes denser it begins to sink and mix with the lower two layers. This allows the trapped sulfur gasses to escape explaining the rotten egg smell you may have noticed while fall fishing during this critical season change. This also allows the bass to escape the upper layer and really opens up the entire water column for them. This is what we call the fall turnover. If you fish late into the fall you've probably seen this on your home lake. The water becomes cloudier and you can actually smell the sulfur in a lot of lakes as it's being released.
Why do I make this distinction?
It's because I fish distinctly different before and after the turnover. In early September and mid September I fish primarily like I've been fishing all summer long with the same lures, techniques, and locations, including topwater. September can be one of the best topwater months of the whole season. Look for a change to occur in late September and the first week of October on most lakes as we approach the turnover. The fish will become widely scattered and sometimes difficult to locate. There are times where it will seem like there are no big fish left in the lake and all you can catch are the little fish. This is a good time to do all those honey-do chores that have stacked up while you've been fishing all summer. You should get them out of the way right now because the best is yet to come and after the turnover you'll have time to be on the water.
If you're determined to fish during this immediate period before the turnover, here's my advice. If you're fishing a smaller, shallower lake and run into extremely tough fishing conditions it's likely because the water is beginning to turn over. Put your kayak on the trailer and drive to a larger deeper lake. Most likely the larger volume of water hasn't begun to turn over yet and fishing could still be very good there. Conversely, if you're fishing a larger deeper body of water and fishing is tough, go to the smaller lake because it's probably already turned over.
After the turnover is where the real game begins. During the pre-turnover time it seems like all that are in the lake are small fish, after the turnover all you'll find it's big fish game on.
For lakes that have deeper water, look for largemouth bass in the areas where they'll stage over for winter. They're looking for steeper breaks where they can travel a short distance to shallow water feeding areas and back to deep water sanctuaries while expending the least amount of energy. If my kayak is sitting in 15 to 20 feet of water and I can still cast to the bank with a jig, I know I'm in a likely spot to catch lots of big largemouth. In clear lakes that have deep water, look for weed lines that still have good quality green weeds. Pull crank baits over the top and down the sides of those green weeds. You'll find lots of hungry largemouths. My favorite post turnover Largemouth patterns is found on those shallower dirty water lakes that had shallow scummy weed growth all summer long. Those weeds die off and don't leave much cover behind for the bass. Good for you, bad for them. It makes them very predictable. On warmer fall days, look for those largemouth on any wood that's is laying in the water or any dock... it's that simple. For those fish I like a jig with any midsize plastic trailer or a wacky rigged Sick Stick. I often times catch two or three large fish out of one lay down tree. Many times, up to five or six bass from a good dock. but remember, fish are cold-blooded. When the water is colder, fish slower.
Smallmouth behavior seems less affected by the cooler water. They will remain more aggressive than their Largemouth cousin. Still, the cooler water will push them into their winter holding areas. That's good news for you because it pushes them into predictable locations and curbs their summer roaming tendencies. In lakes and reservoirs look for smallies on rocky main lake points and humps. Target them with small jigs, crankbaits and drop shot rigs. In rivers, look for them to migrate downriver to deeper waters and areas protected from ice flows.
Notice that the ice flows will completely bypass this calm area. If you find spots like these in mid-October you will take a lot of big smallie selfies in your Hobie fishing kayak.
So, there it is; a very brief primer on fall bass fishing. The main thing is to get out there. Fall is very short. As a fisherman, don't let your October and early November weekends get spent on non-fishing activities or you'll miss the best fishing of the season and likely the largest average size you'll see all year. As a bonus, the Minnesota fall scenery can be spectacular. Don't miss it.
Check out Jay's boat of choice for the 2017 fishing season, the Hobie Outback!