Anyone used to fishing ponds, lakes or reservoirs with fairly deep water should realize many summertime bass reside in main lake areas. While taking up residence in their main lake hide-outs, summertime bass often relate to main lake points, offshore bars/humps/rock piles, submerged cover on deep structure, deep weed beds and creek channels.
The reasons bass prefer these summertime locations are simple;
- The deeper water areas offer a combination of cooler temperatures (hence relief from summertime heat) and
- Presence of forage since many baitfish such as shad or herring.
Just as bass prefer areas with cooler temperatures and plentiful food, baitfish also live out in the main lake deeper water for similar reasons. As environmental conditions change, the summer to fall transition kicks off and usually occurring between earl September in the north through late October on southern waters.
When the calendar passes the Autumnal Equinox, a combination of shortened days and cooler air masses work to lower water temperatures throughout all aquatic systems. As temperatures fall, signals are sent out to the fish causing both bass and baitfish to slowly start the migration from their summertime, deepwater haunts into shallower creek arms and bays.
Though many bass start their movement toward the backwater areas, changing weather patterns can quickly alter water conditions and force the fish back towards deeper water. In turn, bass are often very transient, scattered and difficult to pattern during the switch from summertime to fall habits and patterns. Accordingly, fishing during this transition time can be slow. Persistence however, often yields decent days of the water and provides insight into the beginning of the true fall migration.
Fortunately the summer to fall transition is relatively short (a few weeks at most) ultimately leading the way to multiple weeks of absolutely great fishing as the bass prepare for the winter slow-down and period of near dormancy.
What baits to consider during the transition?
I usually start with search type baits (crankbaits, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, vibrating swim jigs, etc.) selecting the appropriate model for the depths being fished until the bass are located. Once located, then switch over to slower presentations (jigs and soft plastics) to explore those areas more completely…
Since this is also the time of year when baitfish fry (shad, alewives, etc.) school, many bass will position around cover allowing them to ambush the schools as they migrate through (Note this was discussed in an earlier article on weed beds and ambushing bass <== link to article).