The Transition into Winter:
Finding the Bass

By Bruce Callis

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As the weather continues to change, and nighttime temperatures continue to fall, the water temperatures continue to fall. And when it starts to high the low 50s to high 40s, the bass will start to move back to their winter haunts. The late fall transition starts to happen and we know it.

It can be a fun but difficult time to be on the water. But what do we look for and how do we approach this time? Where will the bass be? What baits should we be throwing? Ask any pro angler and you will find many answers. Who is right? I think they all are. Wait, they all are? Yes, because we are all different and have different strengths and weaknesses. One person may be able to make one bait work so much better than others, and they are super confident in that bait. Then yes, they will make it work.

Where do we start looking for the bass. In the early fall, the bass move into the shallows and no, they just don’t make a swift movement from 20 feet to 2 feet. They make stops along the way. In late fall, they make that same trip and stop along the same stops as they sat on earlier.

Points are key. Be it main lake points or secondary points, the bass will be making those stops. We can see some of these easily, as the land just comes out perfectly and we know it is there. But there are so many points that happen just below the surface that you can’t tell from looking at the shore. This is where electronics and good mapping come in handy. These are the places to start looking. But what else is there?

Bass are going to follow contours as they move out and move at a given depth. You have to look for certain features along this route. Find those points that may have a stump or a rock beside it. Something that the bass can relate to and feed on. Not everything will you find on a map or even with the electronics. It may be a small hump with a stump that is right on the contour line that they are traveling. Sometimes it’s your bait that finds these. And when you find that spot within a spot, it can be magic. You may catch one or two, or it could be that magic spot that holds 10-20 bass, the times we live for.

Wait, your bait finds it? Yes, it is true. And everyone may use different baits that allow them to feel the bottom. The crankbait is one of those. A diving lure like the Little John series by SPRO is a perfect choice. You need to pick one that dives to the depth you want or digs in a little. A lot of times it’s all about making multiple cast, letting your bait do it’s job. Sometimes it may be the difference of a couple feet that finds that golden spot. Bass are still feeding as they move out, but as we all know, they don’t always chase. But if you put it in their face, it’s a reaction. Feel the bottom as you come through, letting your bait run into what is there, and be ready for that bass to just engulf your lure. Crankbaits are my prime choice of baits.

My second choice is a jig with a trailer. You can work it down the points and up over stumps and laydowns. It is a great bait for feeling out the bottom and exactly what is there. A football head style is great, as it comes through so much easily. As to the trailer, you want something that has a little action. A craw bait like the Missile D Bomb or the Power Team Lures Craw D’oeuvre are two types that fit that style. They have action, but it isn’t overpowering like some do.

My third choice is a spinnerbait or vibrating jig. These two are great choices as they can be worked at any depth from the shallows to the points. I grew up throwing a spinnerbait a lot, and have caught so many big bass on it. Maybe my little brother is better at it at times, but it is that good. While there are many choices, a lot prefer the old school of just one or two blades, and they work great. You can slow roll them along the bottom and find a lot of structure that hold bass. Today we have spinnerbaits with up to 4 or 5 blades on them, to mimic a school of bait fish. Then there is the multiple arm spinnerbaits. Everyone has a preference as to what they like, and have the most confidence in. A bladed jig is the same thing. There are tons of them on the market and, while they are in general the same, each is different. Blade design, jig head design, how it attaches the two together, and even in the action it gives. As to a trailer, less is more. Most do not need a lot of action in the trailer, as it actually over powers the bait itself. If the bait hunts, a paddle tail may cause it to run straight and not hunt.

Another choice is the swimbait. And it can be used in two different ways. A single swimbait can be an awesome presentation rigged on a jig head or on a swimbait hook. I like to use a Woo Tungeston swimbait hook to rig mine. This allows me to work it in and through cover better, in my opinion. But also a Gamakatsu spring lock spinner, a G-Finesse Tricky Head or a Cobra 27 are also great choices. These can also be worked at any depth and paired with a sweet paddle tail swimbait can be deadly.

The last option is in an Alabama Rig. It doesn’t matter what you want to call it, they are all basically the same. A headed lure with multiple wires coming off the head and an attachment for a hook or weighted swimbait hook to which you attach a swimbait. And from there, it can be 3 wires, 5 wires, 7 or even 9. Some arms are plain, while others have spinners on the arm itself. Some have spinners on the end of the arm and only the center arm has a swimbait and hook. It becomes a choice of which you like, how many single hooks you can have legally, and how big you want to throw. They all work and can produce some big bass.

Just remember, these bass are moving from shallow to deeper water. The key word is moving. What you may find today may not be tomorrow or even what you found this morning may be empty this afternoon. Be ready to move as they move. Keep searching and finding. It’s a great time to be on the water and maybe find your new personal best. How big will it be?

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