By now we know that seasonal changes are not all bad news for anglers. In fact, a change in season can spur otherwise complacent bass into a much more aggressive lifestyle.
Between their heightened mobility and a willingness to binge, fall bass can treat anglers to some of the most spectacular fishing of the year.
In some parts of the country, days of fifty-plus bass per person fishing crankbaits or soft plastics are not uncommon. Moreover, fall bass tend to congregate, off and on, in large packs as they prepare for migration. If you happen upon one of these roving bands you can quickly rack up some respectable numbers.
While on a field test in Minnesota one late September day, my two partners and I once caught over a hundred and thirty bass in a single morning?seventy-five from one place where fish were stacked up
To make the most of the seasonal effect, however, it is imperative to remember that both fall and spring bass constantly vary physiology with water temperature. A single lure choice will not carry you through the season. Effective lure choice should be thought of more as a strategic series than just a one-size-fits-all approach.
In the fall, for example, while water temperatures are still around 60°F, bass maintain enough metabolic scope for aggressive pursuits, so lure choices that favor fast presentations remain an option. But as temperatures drop, and especially in the range around 40°F, anglers should shift to softer, subtler, slower and smaller lure presentations.
It is not the bass' motivation to feed nor its capacity for movement is what it once was. The bass may be looking for a meal, but it is not looking for an arduous struggle.
Of course, this shift in aggression is by no means an absolute. An occasional bass can still be taken on fast lures. And sometimes slow, big baits are just the ticket. But as a rule, the trend is slower and smaller.
It is always important to remember that within natural temperature ranges, bass are never completely out of the feeding loop. Some portion of the resident population is always feeding to some degree. The trick is finding the active individuals.