Fall is a great time to get on the water and enjoy all nature has to offer. Not only can you experience the beautiful scenery and changing colors, but the fishing can also be quite productive this time of year. This is especially true when throwing big shad imitation baits. Throughout the fall fish quickly begin to target shad, bluegill and other baitfish in order to feed up before the cold winter months. This is the perfect time to throw big swimbaits for fall bass on your local body of water.
While many anglers are intimidated by the size of these baits, you’d be surprised how many fish are willing to eat such a large lure. Throwing these type of baits, though, requires confidence. Once you understand what, when and where to throw these big lures, this style of fishing can becomes fairly simple.
Big swimbaits produce big bass because they have tons of drawing power. Drawing power in a fishing lure refers to how well these baits entice fish to travel greater distances to inspect the lure. The bait’s large profile and the potential of a giant meal make bass unable to resist their impulses. This drawing power is based on the bait’s size and overall water clarity. The cleaner the water, the further fish will travel to inspect a big lure.
While you often get more interest from fish on clear water fisheries, they are typically more reluctant to bite due to their increase visibility. On stained bodies of water you many only call fish from several feet away, however they are much more willing to commit due in part to their inability to see the bait is fake as well. There is a magic sweet spot in between clear and stained that allows for the perfect amount of drawing power, while still being dirty enough to keep the fish from getting a good look at the bait. This can often lead to some productive days of big swimbait fishing.
WHEN TO THROW BIG SWIMBAITS
While water clarity is a big factor in deciding when to throw these larger baits, watching how bass react to them is the most accurate and productive way to decide when to throw these lures. Fish key on different types, sizes and kinds of bait throughout the course of the year. The bait these fish are feeding on can have a direct relation to how they react to larger baits. If fish are feeding on big gizzard shad, they are far more likely to crush a big swimbait. However if there are eating baby shiners, they are much more likely to have a negative reaction.
One prime example of this was my last trip to Norfork Lake. During this trip me and my partner found a main lake point that had a massive congregation of 5 to 7-inch gizzard shad. We ended up catching a kicker fish off this location on a glide bait every day we fished, however this hole ended up costing us the tournament due to a fatal mistake.
After finding this location on the first day of the tournament, we decided to run points with glide baits and big swimbaits for the remainder of the day, hoping to find another productive location like this one. We ended up wasting the day, only weighing in two solid fish off of our first location. The reason this bite died is because we tried to force it in locations where there wasn’t large baitfish. This taught me to always pay attention to the size of baitfish when throwing big baits in the fall.
WHERE TO THROW BIG SWIMBAITS FOR FALL BASS
Throwing these baits in areas where fish are feeding on large baitfish is obviously important, however finding these spots can sometimes be difficult. This is where covering lots of water really comes into play. I like to fish many different types of structure and cover throughout the course of the day, looking for either a pattern or specific location where bass are feeding on larger forage. Locations such as points, bluff walls and floating docks are a few of my favorite places to target this time of year.
Points can be a great location to find a large congregation of bass feeding on shad. I like to use both my electronics and my eyes to find these locations. Side scanning main lake and secondary points looking for bait is a productive way to quickly locate areas with actively feeding fish. Bluff walls can be another great location to target with big swimbaits this time of year. As water levels fall to winter pool, much of the shallow cover is left sitting out of the water. This can cause fish to congregate on steeper banks such as channel swings or bluff walls. Paralleling these banks with a glide bait or big swimbait is a great way to pick up some quality bass.
Lastly, I like to target floating docks during sunny conditions. Bass will often sit right beneath these floats to feed on bluegill and other types of forage using this shade for protection. Skipping a swimbait underneath these docks has proven to be my most productive method for catching big bass throughout the fall. While all three of these locations can be great areas to find quality bass, choosing the right bait can be equally important in getting these fish to commit.
WHAT TO THROW
There is a plethora of different big swimbaits to throw for bass, however over the last several years I’ve taken a deep dive into this technique. Testing out tons of different swimbaits and glide baits trying to find the ones that suit my style of fishing the best. After a few years of trial and error, I’ve created a three-bait lineup that works perfect for catching big bass in the fall. This consist of a 6 to 7-inch glide bait, a harness style swimbait, and a weedless EWG swimbait.
I opt for the glide bait when fishing around isolated cover in open water. Casting these hard body glide baits can be fairly difficult, so I generally throw them in open areas with little risk of snags. This bait is great for calling fish out of deep brush and other cover that fish hold tight too. The SPRO KGB Chad Shad 180 is a great glide bait for this application that won’t break the bank.
I go for a harness style swimbait when fishing around docks or areas with lots of overhangs. The soft plastic material these baits are made of make them perfect for skipping under docks, overhangs or any other tight location. The treble hook harness does a great job of hooking fish and keeping them pinned, however, it will get snagged on any kind of submerged cover. My go to swimbait for this application is the 6-inch Megabass Magdraft.
Lastly, an EWG style soft swimbait is perfect for fishing around heavy cover such as wood or grass where other big swimbaits get snagged. Skipping this bait around shallow laydowns and grass clumps has proven to be a very effective fall strategy when looking for quality sized bass. I will typically throw a 6-inch swimbait on a a weighted 6/0 EWG hook. This seems to be the best size for attracting quality bites while still being able to capitalize on average sized fish. My go to swimbait for this application is the 6-inch Megabass Magdraft Freestyle.
All three of these baits are great options for targeting bass feeding on large forage. While the size of these baits can be daunting, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see just how many fish react to these giant baits. If you are looking for an adrenaline filled way to catch some giant bass this fall, I’d highly recommend giving big swimbaits a try.