According to Yamaha Pro Todd Faircloth, anglers still have time to enjoy what he describes as bass fishing’s ‘forgotten season,’ when fish are migrating back out of tributary creeks to main lake structure where they’ll spend the winter.
“Fishermen look forward to September when bass start following shad and other baitfish into the creeks,” explains Faircloth, “but they don’t take advantage of the time those same fish come right back out of the creeks when the water begins turning colder.
The outward migration does not last as long, but the bass are still shallow, easily accessible, and they’re feeding actively because they’re right behind the baitfish.”
Faircloth has experienced this outward migration often on his home lake of Sam Rayburn in Texas, during which he’s caught largemouths weighing more than 11 pounds. His favorite depth range is between five and eight feet, but he stays close to deeper water channels and breaks.
“I like to begin fishing about halfway into a tributary and just work my way out toward the main lake,” he continues. “If the lake has vegetation like hydrilla or milfoil, I’ll really concentrate on that, especially around the deeper edges, but if no grass is present, then I’ll fish secondary points, stumps, rocks, and even the ends of boat docks.
“ I follow the channel with my electronics, because the bass are going to use that channel, too, rather than scatter. I look for baitfish as well as cover and structure, because bass won’t be far from them.”
The five to eight foot depth range the Yamaha Pro likes is perfect for shallow and medium-running crankbaits, and Faircloth uses both lipless and diving models, depending on what he’s actually fishing. The lipless lures are usually most effective when worked around the vegetation, but as the fish gradually move into deeper water, he uses deeper diving lures.
He varies his retrieve until he starts getting strikes, but one that seems to trigger the most strikes is really burning his crankbait fast, then stopping and starting it several times in quick succession. When he’s using the lipless crankbait and feels it touching vegetation, he lets it sink momentarily, then rips it free.
At times, this pattern can produce some of the fastest fishing action of the entire year, because as they near the end of this migration bass often gather in large schools. It’s still a good time to fish a fast-moving crankbait, even though the fish may be in slightly deeper water.
“A friend of mine fishing Toledo Bend during this outward migration found bass grouped on the ends of several points just before they moved out into the deeper main lake,” remembers Faircloth, “and he caught 23 bass on 22 consecutive casts, actually hooking and landing two bass on one cast.
“Overall, this pattern works best in stained and slightly off-colored water,” concludes the Yamaha Pro, “but I’ve caught fish in clear conditions, too. Overall, water temperatures seem to be the most important factor, and when the temperature drops into the low 50s, it’s usually over because by then the bass are out in deep water.”