Bass begin preparing for winter and soon will start aggressively eating baitfish. You will often find "schools" of bass that have baitfish pinned up in the shallows, the backs of coves, or on-top of shallow points running out into the main body of water.
If you can find the baitfish, you can find the bass this time of year. Like I mentioned earlier, the bass will often push the baitfish shallow. Sometimes that is onto a gradually sloping bank, into the backs of coves, or even up onto shallow points that run out into deeper water. If you can stand it, and can cast in it, sometimes the wind will blow up onto a shallow bank, and that can help you find the baitfish as well.
Baitfish this time of year can mean almost anything that is smaller than themselves! Here in Texas that could mean sunfish, shad, or even young bass. I always make sure I have patterns (colors and sizes) to match all three of these when I am out on the water.
Match your streamer to the size and color of baitfish you are seeing. These could be shad, sunfish, or even little bass. I always make sure I have multiple sizes of each color pattern when I head out. Whites, silvers, olive, and different sunfish patterns. And don't be afraid to go big! This is the time of year that baitfish are at their biggest, and you want to match the size that the bass are eating.
You should almost always start by fishing your streamers fast. Make long casts if you can, and retrieve them with long fast strips of your line, as quickly as possible. If you aren't attracting much attention, vary your retrieve with lengthening pauses to let your fly sink deeper or sit suspending for a short time. Be ready for a strike when you make your next fast strip of the line.
One other tip is that I like to go with a little bit larger tippet size. This can sometimes help you cast heavier or more wind resistant streamers into the wind, and lets the fly hit the water with a little more force. When bass are attacking baitfish, both the bass and the baitfish will be hitting the surface of the water making splashing sounds that can trigger other fish to start feeding, so don't be afraid of noise!
Here are my favorite streamer patterns for this time of year.
1) Clouser Minnows (Both Marabou Clousers and Traditional Bucktail Clousers)
|Marabou Clouser (Chartreuse and Brown)
|Bucktail Clouser (White and Chartreuse)
Fish these with quick, erratic movements. If the baitfish are bigger, choose a bigger bucktail Clouser and fish it fast. These sink faster and create great reaction strikes. If you need to slow down, switch to a Marabou Clouser. These have a little more movement and fineness when fished a little slower.
2) Improved SMP
|Improved SMP (Baby Bass)
|Improved SMP (Sunfish)
Like the Marabou Clouser, these marabou baitfish (called the Improved SMP) flies have great movement in the water. They can be fished fast, slow, or anywhere in between. When bass are keying on sunfish and/or baby bass, these are one of my favorites.
3) Bass Hook Baitfish
|How to Tie the Bass Hook Baitfish
These can usually be tied up pretty large and you can use whatever you have laying around to tie them up. Plus, if you are a converted conventional bass angler, you need something to do with all those old soft plastics hooks.
I don't have a specific place I get gamechangers from. I usually tie my own, and usually with marabou because I LOVE the way it all moves together. I fish these a little different. I make a couple quick, long strips, then let it sit. It still moves as it very slowly sinks. Once it barely touches something (grass, rock, etc.) I make a few more fast, long strips and repeat.
5) Wooly Bugger
|Bead Head Wooly Bugger (Black)
|Bead Head Wooly Bugger (Olive)
Is there ever a bad time to fish a Wooly Bugger? I don't think so. In clear water, I usually like to fish Olive. In darker water and on darker days, I usually will fish a black.
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