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Like most outdoorsman, the Fall has always been my favorite time of year. Many people put their fishing gear away and start focusing on hunting season. However, they are missing out on what I believe is the best fishing of the year. Water temperature begins to drop and the hours of daylight become shorter and shorter. Those two factors signal to fish that winter is approaching, thus causing their feeding instincts to go into overdrive. Fish will feed heavy and often as they fatten up before the dormant winter months set in.
River smallmouths are a fairly aggressive species as it is but when you add the fall feeding factor into it, it becomes an explosive event. If you like big fish, a lot of action, and power fishing, hold onto your rod because this is the time of year for you!
Just about any bait you throw can catch fish this time of the year but if you want big bronze think bigger baitfish imitation lures. Smallmouth really key in on baitfish heavily in the fall to put on extra weight. Take advantage of their aggressive feeding by upping your lure size to target those bigger fish. Big topwaters like buzzbaits, zara spooks, and whopper ploppers can be good all day long instead of just in the morning/evening. Swimbaits both soft body and hard body are a great choice. A few other good selections are crankbaits, chatterbaits, and flukes. My top choice and all-time favorite fall bait is a spinnerbait. Again, focus all your lure choices on baitfish imitators and go with larger sizes.

These fish are craving food so their locations will be based around that idea alone. Any cover or structure will hold fish but focus your efforts on ambush spots. The front side eddy of structure/cover is a prime location. Also the very top of a current seam next to cover/structure is a close second. Shallow gravel flats are a great location that often gets overlooked. On these flats, smallmouth will group up into “wolf packs” in search of schools of baitfish to ambush. When you find one on a flat there will be others, so fan cast that area.

  • By Bill Durboraw