Sep 10, 2016

Fishing River’s during the fall for Big Bass

By: Glenn Walker

Fall time bass fishing on a river is a great opportunity for anglers to catch the most bass of the year sometimes and some of the biggest, as all these fish are putting on the feedbag to beef up before the long winter ahead. Some areas where I look for bass on a river during the fall include:

Rip Rap: As the water temperatures begin to drop, these rock-lined banks will hold heat longer, thus making the water by them warmer. These are good areas for anglers to fish right away in the morning as the rest of the water temperatures in the river begin to rise. Two key items to help differentiate sections of riprap from one another is proximity to deep water and how the current is hitting the bank.

Lily Pad Fields: As the year’s vegetation begins to die, some of the last vegetation available for anglers to fish is the stems of lily pads. Look for these in backwater lakes that are close to deep water areas and you’ll find schools of hungry bass.

Holes: These are typically some of the last places an angler will fish before the boat gets put away for the winter. These holes may be, or will at least be close to the bass’s wintering area. These holes may be behind a wing dam or a sand bar. When fishing these spots, it is important to release the bass right back in this area. If they are transported, they may not have the energy or time to get back.

When the bass on your favorite river are putting on the feedbag this fall, a wide array of lures will work, but some lures seem to tempt some of the biggest bass into biting. When I hit the Mississippi River, beginning in September and going through early November (if the conditions allow for it), I’ll for sure have these three lures rigged up, along with the appropriate gear to fish them.

Spinnerbait: There is just something about the feel of the blades vibrating in the water and then BAM your rod loads up that just makes an angler want to toss a spinnerbait around sunken pad stems and laydowns. The spinnerbait does a great job mimicking the baitfish the bass are feeding on, so it is a logical choice.

Depending on the depth of water I’m fishing, current and wind, this will dictate the weight of my bait. I’ll use anywhere from a ¼ oz. all the way up to a ½ oz. War Eagle spinnerbait.   If the water clarity is pretty good, I’ll use a shad patterned bait with a Colorado/willow leaf blade combination. If the water clarity worsens, I’ll move to an all white or white/chartreuse colored bait with a single Colorado or an Indiana/Colorado blade combination.

Topwater: Some anglers think that once those temperatures begin to drop the topwater fun they had in August is over, well think again. You may not catch as many bass on a topwater this time of year or every time you go out, but you are giving yourself a good chance to catch a big ol’ fall brute by tossing one.

My favorite fall topwater plug is a walk-the-dog style bait, such as the Zara Spook. Using a short rod, that has a soft tip, but a strong backbone, will aid in making your bait walk the dog. Then, the rod will give when the bass hits, so the hooks won’t pull out. This is also why monofilament line is used, it has some stretch to it and it floats, so your bait gets the maximum amount of action possible. My topwater gear for the fall is a Wright & McGill Victory Pro Carbon Jerkbait/Topwater rod that is 6’ 8”, paired with a Victory II Reel, spooled with 15 lb. Seaguar Senshi.

Jerkbait: As the water temperature begins to drop, and the bass begin to hold in deeper water that is close to their wintering holes, a jerkbait is an ideal choice that puts your offering right in front of their face. Depending on the bass’s level of activity that day, your retrieve can be altered to increase the number of strikes you’ll get. Some days, it is a very quick jerk with no or little pause, other days you jerk and let your bait sit there for ten plus seconds.

Using the same type of rod as you do for your topwaters is a good choice. The shorter rod allows an angler to make quick, sharp jerks of the rod. The only thing I change up in my gear here is the line; I’ll use Fluorocarbon, as it sinks. The Double Structured Fluorocarbon (DSF) properties of Seaguar’s TATSU make it a prime candidate for jerkbait fishing.

When it comes to selecting a jerkbait, I like to use a shad pattern when the water is cleaner, but if the water has some stain to it, I’ll use a clown pattern or a pattern that has some chartreuse in it. Some of my favorite jerkbaits to rig up in the fall include; Rapala Shadow Rap, Luck-E-Strike RC Series or the highly coveted Megabass Vision 110. All of these baits have their own unique traits, so finding one that the bass want that day is key.

A key piece of equipment on my boat that I rely on, especially when bass are feeding heavily, is my HydroWave unit. The speaker is mounted on the trolling motor and emits sound into the water that replicates certain scenarios, such as spawning bait, feeding frenzy and schooling bait. During the fall, I may run it on feeding frenzy when the bass are feeding actively, but when the bass are inactive, I run it on Finesse mode at 75% volume on a 45 second delay.

Keep an eye on the forecast and as soon as you see a stretch of sunny days with low wind, I urge you to hook up the boat and head to your favorite river for some fantastic fall fishing. Heck, even bring a radio to listen to your favorite football game, what could be better!!

Glenn has been fishing tournaments for over ten years, spreading his passion and knowledge of the sport via articles and videos. He keeps busy fishing events across the Midwest and on the Mississippi River. Glenn's sponsors include: Bass Boat Technologies, Ducky Products, Humminbird, Jeff Belzer Chevy, Mercury Marine, Minn Kota, Plano, Rayjus, Seaguar, Simms, Snag Proof, T-H Marine, The Rod Glove, TroKar, War Eagle Custom Lures, Wright & McGill and Zoom Baits. For more information check out or on Facebook at