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Publication: Bass Matters
Fall Smallmouths

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><> ><>       BASS MATTERS - October 12, 2006        ><> ><> 

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Hello Anglers,

The blue bird days immediately following a cold front are 
the worst days to fish. The fish will be inactive. Switch to 
smaller baits and slower retrieves.

P.S. You can discuss this issue or any other topic in the new 
Bass Matters forum. Check it out here...

Bass Matters Forum

Enjoy a week of fishing!
email Brock

Fall Smallmouths
From Extreme Bass Lures

Autumn is a golden season for smallmouth bass fans. Summer 
fattened smallmouths are in prime condition, offering 
exciting possibilities for action hungry anglers. This 
season that offers some of the year's best smallmouth fish-
ing is also a time of transition. The weather changes, air 
and water temperature cool. Smallmouth bass are on the move, 
shallow one week, deep the next. Fish that nailed almost 
anything yesterday refuse everything today. 

As autumn approaches, many smallmouth anglers cringe with 
frustration, because their favorite fish are so hard to 
figure out. You'll often hear this referred to as the "fall 
turnover" season, because on many lakes, the water is "turn-
ing over" as the layer cooling on top sinks and warmer water 
from below is pushed upward. Fishing can be difficult if you 
don't understand what's going on beneath the surface. You 
can actually benefit from this fall phenomenon, if you 
understand it.

Understanding Turnover: During summer, many lakes stratify 
into three distinct layers. These lakes have a layer of cold 
water with little dissolved oxygen on the bottom, and a 
layer of warm, moderately oxygenated water on top. Cold is 
heavier than warm water (to a certain degree), so warmer 
water stays on top and colder water sinks and builds up on 
the bottom. In between lies a layer of cool, oxygen rich 
water called the thermocline. Summer smallmouths usually 
stay in or near the thermocline, because that layer comes 
closest to satisfying their needs for oxygen and water 

In late summer or early fall (the exact time depends largely
on the latitude at which the lake lies), cooling weather 
begins lowering the surface water temperature. When the upper 
layer cools enough, it becomes heavy enough to begin sinking. 
This action forces the warmer, lighter water below back to 
the surface. This water subsequently is cooled, just as the 
previous surface layer was, and begins its descent. 

This mixing, or "turnover" continues for several weeks until 
the thermocline disappears, and all lake water is roughly 
the same temperature. This mixing effect also reoxygenates 
deep water, so at this point, bass may be found deep, 
shallow or anywhere in between. Turnover continues until 
late fall or early winter, when the surface temperature 
drops below 39 degrees. Water is at its heaviest at this 
temperature and drops to the bottom. Cooler water "floats" 
on top. 

The autumn turnover period can be divided into three 
subperiods or "mini seasons", early autumn, autumn turnover, 
and late autumn, each of which is characterized by distinct 
smallmouth behavior patterns. Remember that autumn mini 
seasons follow no precise calendar; in some areas, for 
example, the first mini season may run from the last week 
of September into late October or early November. The dates 
can vary considerably from year to year, depending on the 
weather. They also vary from lake to lake and region to 
region. The transition begins earlier in more northerly 
latitudes than it does in southern regions. 

Early Autumn: Typically, the early autumn mini season starts 
right on the heels of summer. The angle of incident sunlight 
and the length of the day decrease, and water begins cooling. 
When lakes begin losing heat faster than it's absorbed, 
smallmouths begin staging along fairly definite routes into 
shallow water. During this time, fish the first structure 
that bass will encounter when they come up from deep haunts, 
creek and river channel edges, large flats bordered by deep 
water, underwater humps and long sloping points. 

Other good fishing areas include points rising into lighted 
water, and trees fallen into deep water. When you've located 
proper structure, you must entice the fish into biting. 
Topnotch artificials, include 6 inch plastic worms and 
salamanders, spinnerbaits, jigs, deep diving crankbaits and 
spoons. For big smallmouths, though, artificials often take 
a backseat to naturals. Properly presented, live baits like 
crawdads, night crawlers, salamanders, minnows and sculpins 
may seduce jumbo smallies when imitations fail.

Autumn Turnover: As autumn progresses, cooler, oxygenated 
water reaches ever deeper in stratified lakes, and autumn 
turnover begins. When this second mini season starts and 
ends will be closely linked to local climate and the depth 
and structure of the lake, but the phenomenon appears to 
get under way on many lakes when the water temperature 
drops to about 50 degrees. Autumn turnover brings acceptable
levels of oxygen to all water levels, and no discernable 
temperature change from the shallowest shallows to the 
deepest depths. 

Thus, smallmouths scatter in all directions and can be found 
deep, shallow or anywhere in between; finding fish concent-
rations can be difficult. Fortunately, many bodies of water 
don't stratify in summer, so they don't experience autumn
turnover. Streams are a case in point, and fishing for 
smallmouths on rivers and creeks is exceptionally good 
during the autumn turnover mini season. Since not all waters 
turn over at the same time, anglers can also try switching 
to waters that have already turned over or in which turnover 
hasn't yet started. 


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In summer stratified waters, fish shallow water as much as 
possible during mini season. Some bass always are in 
shallows, especially around rocky structure. Other good 
fishing spots include tributary mouths, bluff areas, steep 
rockpiles and riprap walls around bridges and causeways. 
Many artificials can be used to fool turnover smallmouths. 
One hard to beat pick is the jig-n-pork combination. Bounce 
the lure across the bottom near likely smallmouth hideouts 
using a presentation that mimics a fleeing crawdad.

Late Autumn: The late autumn mini season is characterized by 
a gradual return to deep water holding areas. Water 
conditions, especially temperatures, are generally more 
stable at greater depths, so bass move deep and often remain 
in the same area for days at a time. Fishing patterns for 
this mini season will generally hold stable from late 
December or early January until early spring in most areas. 

A good reference depth at which to begin looking for late 
autumn smallmouths on lakes would be the 15 to 25 foot range. 
This index varies from lake to lake, depending both on the 
cover and structure present and on the weather, but it 
represents a serviceable starting point at most impoundments. 

Many late season smallies are taken over submerged islands 
and along outside bends of channels. Bluffs and ledges with 
stair stepping drops also are worth investigating, as they 
provide bass with both structure and pronounced depth 
changes side by side. Steep, vertical drops seem more 
attractive to late autumn smallmouths than does gently 
sloping structure. Look for stream smallmouths around ledges,
boulders and treetops in deep pools. 

But don't overlook the importance of using past experience 
to locate fish. Late autumn bass tend to be found in the 
same locations year after year. If you've caught smallmouths 
on a particular tree, in the mouth of a creek, or in a 
certain pool in previous years, by all means, go back and 
see what you find.

Presentation is extremely important for cold weather small-
mouths. Late autumn bass tend to bunch up so compactly that 
an entire school could be covered by the boat. Jigs and 
jigging spoons are frequently used. Work with light line, 
jigging or hopping the lure along the bottom or through 
suspended fish. 

Vary your jigging action from short jumps to faster, higher 
jumps until you determine the manner in which the bass want
a lure presented that day. Many anglers prefer 1/2 to 3/4 
ounce lures, but jigs and spoons in the 1/32 to 1/8 ounce 
range frequently tease out a hit much faster than anything 
else does. 

Autumn smallmouths play by their own set of rules, and 
change them frequently. Autumn anglers who understand the 
distinct behavior patterns exhibited by smallmouth bass 
during the early autumn, autumn turnover, and late autumn 
mini season can discover some of the best fishing of a life-
time. The rule can be perplexing, but considering the 
prospective rewards of figuring them out, they're certainly 
worth learning.

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        GopherCentral's Question of the Week
Should Dennis Hastert resign?

Question of the Week

                  FISHING JOKES CORNER

Two Irishmen walking down the street with two salmon each 
under their arms. 

Two other Irishmen walking in the opposite direction see the 
two lucky fishermen and ask "how did you catch those?" 

"Well it's like this! Michael here holds my legs over the 
bridge, and I grab the salmon as they swim up the river. We
got four salmon A great days fishing!" 

So the fishless pair look at each other and agree to give it 
a try. 

They get to the bridge and Sean calls to his friend "hold my 
legs now Paddy". 

Well he is hanging there upside down for thirty minutes when 
he suddenly cries.. "pull me up, pull me up!! 

Paddy asks, "Do you have a fish Sean?" 

"No, replies Sean, "there's a bloody train coming!"

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