Shad move up creeks during the fall. Bass follow.

You know these things already and understand their importance. So how do you make the most of that understanding to find and catch more bass this time of year?

A good starting point is to select one or two creek arms to focus on instead of hopping all over a lake. Lacking specific knowledge about a creek that has been producing well, spend time studying a map and pick a couple of major creek arms that have many miles of creek upstream of the impounded part. Creek arms that produce a good inflow where they meet a reservoir tend to support strong shad runs. Also, look for creeks that have a lot of bends and points and other features you can search.

On the water, invest some time looking at the creek before you make any casts. Look for shad, both from the surface and with your electronics. They may be widespread or fairly localized, but you want a solid understanding of the general areas and the depths that are holding the most shad before you start casting. Also look for those areas that simply look alive, with shad flipping, bass busting, herons hunting, gulls circling and more.

When you do start fishing, know that the fish might be very widespread and could be on the deep sides of channel breaks or atop flats in inches of water. That’s good because you can find them in a lot of places and fish a variety of ways. However, if means you need to be diverse with your approach and to keep the boat moving.

Keep several rods rigged on your deck and don’t be shy about switching. A DD14 for cranking creek channel edges and the ends of points and a Fat Boy for kicking off stumps and brush way up on flats are equally important during the fall.  Other excellent choices include a Flat Broke, Mad N and Deep Tiny N, with the last of those being extra important if the shad are small.

Whatever model of crankbait you use, stick with classic shad color patterns like Nutter Shad for clear to lightly stained water and chartreuse heavy colors like Chartreuse/Blue Back for dirty water. Extra white colors like Pearl also offer high visibility while still suggesting shad.

Fish quickly with a foot on the trolling motor pedal most of the time as you search for fish, and cast to everything that looks fishy in the areas where you have seen the most shad.  Don’t just cast among shad either. If, say, shad are plentiful in and area, but only near the channel, bass are still likely to be holding on stumps or other shoreline cover in that part of the creek.

When you catch a fish, repeat the cast and make several casts to the same area before moving along. Also take note of where you caught the fish and what you were doing and certainly watch for common denominators.  Don’t get tunnel vision, though, because on some fall days, every fish will be different, with the only real common denominators being that they were up a creek and somewhere near the shad.