Monday, November 7, 2016

Figuring Out the Late Season Bass Pattern

Something that always drove me nuts was figuring out the late fall/early winter largemouth bite. I could never figure it out. I think a large part of why that is is that I did not focus on what the bass are feeding on once the water drops bellow 58 degrees. When I used conventional gear I tried using jigs in olives, oranges, and browns, as well as crayfish patterns and long thin finesse worms. That was a big part of my fall, at least in some waters. The reason is simple. Largemouth begin to focus their attention to bait fish in early fall, and by the time the water temperature has fallen significantly small other fish is the most accessible forage in the water they choose to hold in. The craws, aquatic insects, and leeches stay in shallower water, and the bass gradually go deeper and deeper. That is why learned bass anglers often fish jerk baits, crank baits, and spinner baits in late season. There are, of course, notable exceptions, but that is not what I have experienced recently and not what I have seen in the past few year. Take this CT hawg I caught in 2013 on a spinnerbait on a day when the water temperature was hovering around 56:

Now there is the matter of applying that to fly fishing. What flies should you fish in place of a spinner bait, jerk bait, or crank? It's not too hard to figure out... except the spinnerbait, that one still drives me nuts... there are days where I know I could put up some serious numbers with a spinner bait and yet I can't seem to find a fly that is an adequate substatute. But a Clouser or bait fish colored woolly bugger will work perfectly whenever a crank bit will, and a Heifer Groomer or a Deciever does the job of a jerk bait. Today I fished the deep kettle lake I've been visiting this fall and found myself in  situation where a crank bait probably would have been the best bet on conventional gear. A white and olive Clouser and a chartreuse woolly bugger got me into fish in conditions that used to stump me: deep water and fish focused on small bait fish.

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