For anglers living in the Midwest, late fall can come abruptly and only stick around for a few short weeks, so you must be very methodical with your approach when it comes to targeting bass. This is even more the case with the inevitable draw down situation that most lakes go through in the region this time of year.
Luckily, we spoke with legendary Midwest angler Frank Scalish about how he approaches this situation on the small lakes near his home in Cleveland Ohio. Scalish provided us with his three top late fall bass fishing tips, his favorite late fall bass fishing lures to use during this period and what situations are best for them.
Capitalizing on the Draw Down Period
What is the draw down period?
The draw down is a time typically in the fall where lakes all over the country are drained down to a winter pool level. This is usually to accommodate for working on docks or for preparation of heavy spring rains. It also spells a great time to fish!
Frank provided knowledge that most lakes will be going through a draw down near him and that most bass will push up toward in the bank in less than 5 feet of water and hug tight to any cover near the bank like logs, rocks, docks, or any other types of cover available. Frank said the draw down really opens shallow fishing by creating current breaks around these pieces of cover that are typically in deeper water.
Franks first choice in the late fall will always be the BOOYAH Flex II due to its deflection properties and superb running depth of 3-6 feet. Scalish likes the Flex II in shad-based patterns such as “Smoke Shad”, and “Threadfin Shad” because they closely match the forage base in these lakes. He chooses this specific crankbait as a first choice in draw down lakes because it has an almost balsa like action due to its foam composite body, and it rolls over shallow cover with ease. Scalish runs the Flex II over any form of shallow cover multiple times and with fast and slow retrieves to dial in bites. A major key is to hit the piece of cover with several different angle casts.
Top Lure Choices and Equipment: BOOYAH Flex II
- Equipment: 12-17 lb. Fluorocarbon line, 6’6-7 ft medium heavy moderate fast cranking rod, 6-7:1 gear ratio reel
Fishing Late Fall Bass on Grass
Frank Scalish’ second choice is suited for lakes that have grass present in them. The choice for this situation is a stubby little square bill by Norman Lures called the Fat Boy. His reasoning behind choosing this model for grass lakes is it has a lot of buoyancy to it and can easily be fished over the grass or come through it clean. In Franks words “the Fat Boy pushes grass out of the way rather than getting tangled up, and a jerk of the rod rips it clean, unlike most other square bills out there.” Frank primarily fishes this bait in shallow shore grass this time of year that is becoming exposed due to the draw down, and over the top of deeper hydrilla, if present. The buoyancy factor really comes in to play while fishing over the top of grass, the Fat Boy can dig into the grass and then by stopping the lure it will quickly rise up out of the grass prompting bites. Scalish chooses colors that closely match forage bases like Lavendar Shad, and chooses to fish this bait in darker water with colors like Chart. Black, but he also added no color is wrong in the Norman gel coat line!
Top lure choices and equipment: Norman Fat Boy
- Equipment: 14-15 lb. Fluorocarbon line, 6’6-7 ft medium heavy moderate fast cranking rod, 6-7:1 gear ratio reel
- Fishing around an abundance of baitfish
Frank’s final pick for midwestern fall fishing is an all-time classic in the world of bass fishing, it’s the first ever square bill crankbait, the Cotton Cordell Big O! This tough little crankbait comes out of Franks arsenal when he identifies a lot of baitfish present. This could be as simple as seeing baitfish dimple on the surface or idling over points with your electronics and seeing clouds of bait. The reason behind choosing the Big O for this situation is all in the profile and action. He sees this crankbait as the best representation of small baitfish forage, and its tight wiggle looks very similar to wounded bait straying from a pod. Scalish fishes this workhorse on tapering points, small humps, or over shoreline cover. This doesn’t even have to be bumped along cover to provoke strikes, it often times will get bit when just reeled alongside schools of bait due to its uncanny ability to mimic them. Frank chooses shad related patterns such as Moon Eye Shad, or Smokey Joe because of their close resemblance to several types of baitfish. This little crank is a secret of the Cleveland, Ohio pro and he routinely keeps it out in the fall to bail him out when fishing gets tough.
Top lure choices and equipment: Cotton Cordell C77 Big O
- Equipment: 10-12 lb. Fluorocarbon line, 6’6-7 ft medium action rod, 6:1 gear ratio reel
- These top late fall bass fishing tips give you a great starting place to begin finding bass during the late fall in the Midwest. Stay on the trolling motor or keep a fast pace as you walk a bank and you are sure to run into some good bass!
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