Fish Sniffer Digital Edition Issue 3620 September 15-30, 2017 - Page 7

FRESHWATER VOL.36 • ISS. 20 5 Sept. 15 - 30, 2017 Fall Bass Attack! presents ^ Fall is a fantastic time for bass fishing in both the California Delta and in our foothill reservoirs. Author Cal Kellogg caught this beautiful smallmouth while working a Duh! Spoon at Lake Berryessa during an October fishing adventure with California bass fishing legend, Larry Hemphill. T ^ While jigging spoons are often the best bait to employ when fall bass are gobbling up baitfish, other reaction baits such as crankbaits and topwater lures work too. This robust smallmouth came out of the depths to smack a walking bait. < When fall bass are targeting suspended balls of threadfin shad, few offerings work as well as a jigging spoon worked vertically just above the depth of the bait and the bass. Should the action move to the surface these spoons will also work when casted and slow rolled through the feeding fish. > Early during the fall bite, much of the action will take place in open water offshore. As the season progresses and the water temperature drops more and more, the baitfish and bass will eventually begin working their way up river channels like the one shown here. Planning For Fall Bass Season… he days are have been getting shorter for a few weeks now and before long we’ll start to notice that it’s getting dark earlier. The water in our reservoirs is still warm in late August and early September, but they will start cooling soon. It might not feel like it to anglers now wearing shorts and flip flops but fall is looming just around the corner. We all love to bass fish during the spring, but truth be told some of the best fishing of the entire year takes place during the fall. While the hot fall window is shorter than the extended spring season that starts in March and can extend into May, the bass action during the fall can be very intense. One of the biggest factors effecting bass and consequently, bass anglers is the water temperature. In spring, there is a prolonged wind up to the bite because the water temperature has to creep up from the lower 40’s into the middle to upper 50’s before the cold blooded bass are feeling feisty enough to chase baits and lures consistently. That’s a span of 15 to 20 degrees at a time when weather is noto- riously unstable and the nights are long and chilly. During the fall on the other hand, the temperature has to drop from the upper to middle 70’s into the high 60’s for the fish- ing to turn on. Not only is this a smaller change, but also the bass that have been suspended over deep cool water during the latter part of summer are already feeling their oats, chasing and feeding heartily. For the action to get really crazy all that needs to happen is for the temperature to drop enough to draw baitfish toward the surface or in tight to structure. The first step toward enjoying great results when fishing during the fall is understanding the relationship and behavior of baitfish and bass. Baitfish like shad and pond smelt are found in areas that provide cool water in the upper 50’s to the lower 70’s and ample aquatic nutrients. Dropping surface tempera- tures in the early fall draw baitfish to the surface and shortly thereafter they begin moving toward tributaries were the densest concentra- tions of plankton and other nutrients exist. Mother Nature instilled bass with a strong survival instinct. In the fall bass savagely gorge on baitfish. First and most obviously, they are putting on weight for the long lean winter months to come. Since bass don’t carry calendars this behavior is most likely cued by the short- ening hours of daylight. On an instinctive level the bass know that before long the water temperature will drop to a point that robs them of their ability to chase forage no matter how abundant it may be. As soon as nighttime temperatures be- gin dropping, start scouting the deep open water outside small tributaries and within narrow lake arms. As you explore these areas look for bait breaking the surface, but also keep an eye on the sonar for balls of bait holding below the surface. When bait is located, a number of lures can be used to probe for bass. If the bait is deep, let’s say in the 20 to 35 foot zone, a spoon such as a Duh. FISH SNIFFER HOW – TO by Cal Kellogg CONTINUED ON PAGE 18