As the number of fishermen declines because of the upcoming hunting season, hardcore anglers are chomping at the bit to get out on the lake. Fall weather in Michigan brings about explosive bites and aggressive feeding patterns that produce the most exciting of the year. While the fall bite may only last two or three weeks at best, it is completely worth chasing.
Finding schools of bass in the fall on Michigan lakes can be tricky because they school up into more concentrated areas. Just before the lake that you plan to fish turns over (when the warmer water on top transfers to the bottom), you can expect to find bass up on shallow points or flats. They will chase bait up to these areas, and often, you can get on a good topwater bite.
When water temperatures start cooling off in the early fall, bass will be chasing baitfish subsurfaces anywhere from 10-12 feet deep. The larger fish could also still be on their bottom-feeding patterns if they are in an area that hosts many insects and crayfish. The transition from deep to shallow water is when you can also expect to find these fish near grass and underwater structure.
Lure selection during this time is not much different from your springtime lures. Jigs, texas rig worms, and deep-diving crankbaits are still very likely to produce bites. The only difference is the color selection. Popular early fall colors are red and orange for jigs and crankbaits. Popular colors for soft plastics are June bug and red bug. Any of these lures will be productive but as soon as the bass stop biting them, put them away until springtime.
Once bass have moved up into more shallow water, they are less likely to be around structure. During this time, you can visually see schools of baitfish just underneath the surface of the water. If you can find the baitfish, you will most certainly find the bass. This period only lasts for 7-10 days in ideal conditions, so be sure to take advantage of it.
The classic topwater bite that we all live for is sure to happen once you’ve found the bait. Anything from a spook, popper, and fluke will undoubtedly catch fish. Color selection during this time is not very important since the bass will be looking to eat as much as possible before winter. Be sure to stay clear of buzz baits or anything that is loud when retrieving, as this can disperse the baitfish and make it harder to target where the bass will be feeding. Sticking with a slow, walking bait is your best bet.
As the lake turns over, bass start moving to deeper water to begin their winter feeding patterns. While this is the slowest part of the fall bite, you can still catch a large number of bass if you can stay on the schools and create reaction bites. Since they have been feeding for a couple of weeks, a reaction bite is your best bet. They could stay close to the bottom, searching for crawfish and insect larva depending on water temperature.
Loud-rattling, subsurface baits such as rattletraps and jerkbaits are many anglers’ go-to lure selection. Just like early fall, a red or orange color is prevalent. If you own anything in a crawfish pattern, this is the time to throw it. You can catch fish on these lures until the Michigan winter locks the lakes up with ice.
Keep It Simple
When targeting fall bass in Michigan, keep it simple and cover as much water as you can. Do your research before you even head to the lake and find points and flats on a map that you want to check. Researching beforehand will cut your time scouting in half while increasing the amount of time you have a bait in the water. Once you find the bass, stay with them and keep track of the depth you caught them. When deciding what lure to throw, do your best to match the hatch. Use a throw net or a dip net to catch a few baitfish and examine their size and color. Once you’ve got a general idea of what they are feeding on, the fun begins.
Take this opportunity to take a kid or new fisherman with you. The explosive bites and nonstop action will be an excellent time for anyone to catch bass. Fall bass fishing in Michigan is spectacular and should be experienced by everyone.