Remember, they’re feeding on a lot of baitfish to prepare for winter, and they’re doing a lot of that feeding at the point where rivers and streams meet ponds and lakes. In northern Wisconsin, smallmouth bass tend to set up in their wintering locations by end of September. Live bait fishing for heavily concentrated smallmouths like Amato and I pursue during the fall is effective, and only recommended when done carefully and responsibly as this article promotes. If the rod blank bends too far down, you won’t be able to feel those nibbles. Fish will usually be near the transition areas at the bottom of the drop-offs in 18-30 feet of water leading to the deep flats,” he describes. Tournament bass fishing champion Seth Feider has proven his ability to catch big smallmouth on the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament trail. To ensure catch and release, my recommendation is circle hooks only. I guarantee. This is where 10-12lb mono or hybrid fluorocarbon coated mono works well. This fall, don’t be so quick to put away your gear and winterize your boat – there’s still plenty of fishing left out there. Once the weather starts to change, and the temperature starts to dip, they move closer to shore into the shallow water. No need to set it too hard, it’s more of a medium hookset. Doing this prevents the bass from getting spooked and gives you a better chance of catching more. When a smallmouth grabs the bait, the bite is subtle, but you eventually get the hang of it, becoming easier to detect. Those are the colors you want to use. When this happens, Amato instructs to drop the bait immediately back down to the bottom as the same fish, and perhaps another smallmouth will grab it again. When fly fishing in mid to late fall, consider fishing with a sinktip or a 250 grain full sinking line in the deeper riffles and pools on our larger rivers. “Depending on the wind/weather patterns for a specific day, you must get in the right mindset of what the day calls for, and game-plan the effective ways to use the wind to your advantage to catch fish. Smallmouth bass will bite all day but generally speaking, the best time of day to catch bass are in the reduced light hours or early morning and late afternoon. “On another lake, on a good day the action seems to go non-stop all day from just a few different areas,” he says. When you’re fishing for open water, structure-oriented smallmouth in the late fall, let the wind guide you to the fish. Think about it this way. Fishing for Smallmouth Bass closes for the winter in many parts of North America. I recommend going as natural with the color as possible because we want to mimic what’s currently going on in the water. This largely depends on climate. Minocqua, Wisconsin.All information and photography is protected under United States Copyright Laws and may not be reproduced and used without written permission of Andrew Ragas. However, my favorite for livebait smallmouth fishing has become Eagle Claw Trokar’s TK 15 Wide Load Hook and TK7 Extreme Hook in sizes 1 and 2. In Ontario July, August and the first two weeks of September is usually the best time for Smallmouth Bass fishing as the bass are usually up on the rocks in their normal feeding patterns. Smallmouth bass home to wintering areas and will not vacate them regardless of angling pressure and the exploitation that is on them. To me, it’s almost as bad as taking a big bass off of a bed and keeping it,” says Amato. Get your quick picture or two, and hold the fish upright in the water until it gets its bearings and strength back, and it should swim off unharmed rather quickly.”. Ice Fishing for Smallmouth. Another great thing about this time of the year is that you can sleep late and still have great fishing. People don’t realize it, but bass feed all year long; you just have to know how to catch them. But it’s become acceptable when all else fails like when our preferred traditional fall strategies of deep water cranking, drop shotting, swim baiting, and jigging isn’t catching them. Some seasons close as late as the end of February and open as early as May. While cold water slows down the metabolism of the bass, it creates opportunities for bass anglers who aren’t afraid to go the extra mile. Smallmouth bass are my favorite fish to catch during the fall months. Now let’s talk about the specific lures you’ll want to use. The reason they’re so effective is because of what bass are eating during this time of year. It was 20 degrees below zero at my house last week. Another fall trend is schooling bass. During this time, the bass start to huddle up and stay together more frequently, and if you see this happening or you see them leaping out of the water a lot, you’ll want to get a soft jerkbait and give it a go. During the summer, small 1-3 pound bass are hanging out all over the place. Fishing partner and smallmouth bass expert, Johnny Amato, was gracious to contribute to this piece and offer insights to our northern Wisconsin live bait fishing program. The bait should technically be about 5-15 feet in front of you on the bottom, getting dragged by the boat,” he says. The professionals consider it cheating. Amato’s favorite producing water temperatures are from 55 to 48 degrees. Experts like Amato have learned to fish basic presentations. Most well-stocked bait shops in the north will carry these minnows, making them an ideal fall option. These are the best late fall bass fishing lures because by late fall, when you’re experiencing near freezing temperatures at night, bass have likely retreated to the shallowest area of the water. Once fall rolls around, they find that bass are a little timider about biting, and that makes it harder to set the hook. The December bite is forage driven. I’ve introduced a few so far, and you’ll see them come up again here. Trokar’s assortment of circle hooks in the TK 619 variety is superb as well. While Amato’s live bait techniques have been applied to shallower lakes that don’t stratify and lack defined wintering locations, he concedes that it’s more difficult to establish the pattern on waters that aren’t deep and don’t turn over. But rigging, bait choice, and attention to detail involving hook style, hook rigging placement, weight size and leader length demonstrate creative adaptations to specific smallmouth locations. At least that’s what I’ve been told, anyway. That’s a reason why I enjoy fishing in the rain so much. Bass are most active when water temperatures are around 60 degrees because that’s the temperature they spawn in. “In the fall, smallmouth’s energy levels aren’t what they are during the summer, due to the colder water. “I look at our fall in two sections — early fall and late fall,” he said. Plus, the fish you just caught is almost definitely part of a school, so you want to get your line back in the water quickly before the school disperses. I love fishing frogs no matter what the season is, but I especially enjoy these guys during the fall. Bass are going to start hugging the shores and especially where creek channels are pouring into larger bodies of water. […] Fall Smallmouth Bass Strategies: No Shame with the Live Bait Game […]. However, it’s not an easy presentation to deliver when dealing with deep coontail or sandgrass. Every fall Amato and I fish, 90% of the lake’s smallmouths are located in 10% or less of the lake. One of the best things you can pay attention to is how the bass are behaving with certain lures. Even though I have suggested the idea a few times, Amato isn’t a fan of drift socks as they are a nuisance to operate. Then they winter and burrow themselves into the deep muddy basins of the lake, not far from wintering smallmouths. © 2021 Northwoods Bass Fishing Adventures, LLC. I would suggest going with a large swimbait with some sort of red on it to give the appearance of an injured baitfish. A spring-fed stream such as the Current River remains ultra-clear throughout the fall so long and accurate casts are required to prevent spooking smallmouth. “I use the wind and current to move the boat, and only use the trolling motor with small bursts to help stay on course. Strolling and precision rigging livebait often transforms a non-bite into a very good bite, like this portly 20 incher. Relatively inexpensive, “There are quite a few smallmouth bass still swimming around right now who owe their lives to this tool!” proclaims Amato. This late September tanker was caught from a wintering area. Simply clamp down on the shank just beneath the visible eye of the hook, and turn the handle. Amato employs the Lindy Rig, one of freshwater fishing’s all time greatest inventions that has withstood the evolution of fishing and remains popular to this day. Speed and direction plays an important role in presentation and drifting. Your main line needs to be much stronger and have a little bit of stretch. If we all thought May 2020 was difficult fishin... Hi everyone! Anglers lack the patience and care to play smallmouths from the depths slowly. I’m always studying wind directions and how it relates to the spots I’m going to fish.”. Adding to the efficiency of his rigs, Amato uses the smallest trout beads he can find to help protect his leader knot from fraying and weakening by the walking sinker. Hi all, even though winter is just getting started, it’s never too early to consider a fully guided bass fishing trip on the inland waters of Northern Wisconsin. What this means for the angler is that you need to be mindful of their slower metabolism by slowing down your presentation, using smaller lures, and giving more time in between movements on the lure. They can cover a lot of ground and help you locate fish fast. If you’re fishing with this strategy in mind, you want to change everything completely: Here is where you really want to look for things like downed logs or underwater debris. In his mind, nothing beats jigs and craw imitation plastics, and skirted hula grubs worked through deep rock structure and steep breaklines. “Anything from 6-12 mph is a good wind to drift in. They are chunky, super aggressive, and school up BIG TIME on deepwater structure. Tank-sized smallies won't make it easy most days. Or I will simply look elsewhere where they may be shallower. In early spring and late fall when the weather is unstable bass tend to go deeper to minimize discomfort because of drastic changes in atmospheric pressure. Late Fall is the sweet spot for smallmouth bass fishing in the Northeast. In order to give the walleye sucker ample action, Amato drops the rig in a vertical position beneath the boat and lets out enough line for the sinker to make bottom contact while the boat drifts. We used to say "stacked like cordwood" when walleyes were tightly grouped. Destin DeMarion brings us a Tackle Tip Tuesday fall fishing tip for smallmouth bass up north. While never a problem for Amato and I, barotrauma is a dangerous silent killer in summer and autumn when fish congregate in depths of 30 feet and greater. 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