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September, 2001

There is no way to tell you how excited I get when the days get shorter and the extreme temperatures start to drop off.  That is a sure sign that fall is right around the corner. 

Shallow water bassin' is what is on my mind.  When fall arrives, the fish seem to move shallow.  I believe that there are a couple of reasons why fish react this way.  First of all the lake temperatures are still warm but the surface temperatures start to decline immediately.  These fish have had to tolerate the hot surface temps all summer long and they seem to welcome the change of seasons.  The second reason that I believe fish move shallow this time of year is the oxygen content in the water.  During long summers with little rainfall, there is little water movement and that means that the oxygen content starts to be depleted towards the end of summer.  The wind plays a key factor in replacing oxygen into the water.  It only stands to reason that the water on windy banks will have higher oxygen levels. And with the lack of current in our lakes the fish will migrate to those areas.  It is still important to remember that these fish will move shallow today but they are prepared to go right back to twenty feet whenever they feel the need. 

I have found that most of the bass that I catch this time of year are on windy main lake points.  I believe that the bass are moving up in the cooler to feed and then they will drop back off into the safer deep water.  I find a lot of fish suspended directly under the floatation of docks instead of in the brush piles that I caught them in during the middle of summer.  I know that there are still fish in the brush piles but I just cannot get them to bite.  Then a few moments later I notice that the worm is getting bit as soon as it hits the water.  The fish seem bite better on a reaction strike rather than force feeding them.  When the fish suspend shallow under docks, you can sometimes get them to bite a spinnerbait or a shallow running crankbait off of the front corners of the docks.  These fish will also use the ladders and the front bars of docks to suspend under.  I have heard of guys getting on a pattern where almost every pontoon boat with the motor in the water is holding bass.

The beginning of fall is also a great time to fish in the river.  I like to go to the river and fish flats that are close to the channel.   If it has stumps and laydowns on them it is best.  Fall bass will suspend under anything that provides cover.  The key seems to be to put the bait directly in front of the fish and donít expect the fish to chase it.  They just want to wait until and easy opportunity presents itself.  I like to fish a good square lipped crankbait and run the bait directly into cover and pause it.  If the fish is there, it will bite out of a reaction.  A spinnerbait is among my favorite reaction baits.  During the fall I fish a half-ounce spinnerbait and move the bait slowly up to the cover and then crawl it over and let it fall straight down.  This is my favorite way to fish a spinnerbait.  The strikes are hard and the fish are usually trying to go the other direction and the fight is always a good one.  I generally use bigger baits in the fall simply because the shad are bigger.  In most of the rivers you will see huge schools of shad that are four to six inches long.  Try to match them as close as possible in size and color.

As you make the transition from summer to fall, it is very important to pay attention to the water levels.  The bass are moving shallow and it only takes enough water to cover their backs to make them happy.  Donít get caught up thinking that there is not enough water to hold a fish.  Most of the fish that I catch in the fall are in less than two feet.  Just raise your trolling motor up and start catching bass.  This time of year can be as good as spring, you just have to go and keep your line wet.

Leave a few for seed,

Chris Roberts