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Early Fall Bass Patterns and Tips    by Michael Harvan

Pennsylvania fishermen as myself spend much of their time on USA and Canadian waters, learning new methods of catching bass. Fall is the time of year when weather plays a big part in angling success. Determining patterns are difficult, wind patterns change constantly, and fish slow down, but if you try new creative techniques, your daily catch will increase. During September and October 2011 the weather played many tricks on us. The winds were extreme, rain fell almost daily and bass were spread wide and far apart.

Beautiful fall fishing in PA.   

Several lures seem to work the best, when a soft presentation is called for. They are as follow: rubber worms in varying lengths from 4” to 8”, smelt baits, fluke baits, grubs from 3” to 5”, crayfish in colors from orange to black, along with any soft bait that will mimic natural prey in the waters you are fishing. Hardware such as spinner baits, top water and crank baits are used when the fish are more aggressive. This may only take place at marginal times during an outing, so pay close attention to how fish react to a lure’s movement. Personally, my presentations are slow and precise; looking for waters conditions that will aid, not hinder the lure’s action. As weeds and grasses start to die off, water clarity, PH and oxygen levels affect fish movements, but a holding spot in late summer may still be a hot spot in October, early November. The key in succeeding is not to rush from spot to spot, but to fish an area until you are sure no active fish are available to be caught. Rocks, stumps and fallen timber hold fish, weeds, grass, points and coves do also. Shallow water and deep channels belong in this group. So you can see just about anywhere in a lake or river fish should be holding. Prior to your day afloat design an agenda or action plan. This will at least give you a starting point to work from. You can always change plans as conditions are evaluated.


Fall Fishing choice of lures

  1. Rod 1 - rigged with a 5” charthouse twister tail on gold 1/8 oz. jig head.

  2. Rod 2 - a purple wacky worm rigged on a 00 true turn hook weightless Texas style.

  3. Rod 3 - a white spinner bait with both willow leaf and Colorado blades.

  4. Rod 4 - ¼ oz black jig head with a gold speckled 4” rubber worm.

  5. Rod 5 - was my most creative sporting a green floating jig head with a 5” charthouse twister tail attached.

Each one of these set ups were used in different water depths, structure points and based on wind conditions. The only changes that took place, the colors of the baits were adjusted to light and water clarity. White was a predominant color, purple next inline; reds, yellows and greens produced the least. Between two fishermen (myself and my friend, Scott) we would catch anywhere from 10 to 20 some bass a day, plus other species such as perch, catfish, pickerel fishing from 7:00 am until 4:30 in the afternoon. Smallmouths averaged 18” – 2# 14 oz, largemouths 17” 3# - 10 oz, remember these figures are average some were more other less. Pickerel up to 24”, perch about 10”, catfish 20” and other small pan fish.


Casting into the wind

With the wind at our backs, parallel and perpendicular presentations were the norm. The most productive was casting to the shoreline when positioning the boat in about 8 foot of water, biggest Bass caught in about 4 foot of water. No deep water techniques had to be used, since, we weren’t after trophy size fish, that’s another story altogether. Having fished two different lakes over several weeks, we found the majority of the fish still hanging close to shore and weed/grass cover. Rocks only produced a handful of Bass taken on jig heads. Line weight played an important part, my rigs carried 6# test in green and highvis line, while Scott’s were set up with 8# and 10# class line. For some unknown reason he did better than me, first thing in the morning and latter in the day. My presentations were mainly weightless, while his were lightly weighted.


  Fall fishing can mean weather extremes on both ends.

Where To Fish

The two bodies of water fished; Muck Chunk Watershed just West of Jim Thorpe, PA and Beltzville Lake East of Lehighton, PA. We have fished both lakes since the early 1970’s, knowing every holding area, like the back of our hands. Don’t limit yourself to what you see on TV, try color combinations, mix and match baits, try weightless presentations even in deeper water, and most of all ENJOY The TIME ON THE WATER!


Editor's Note: We would like to thank avid PA angler, Michael Harvan, for sharing this article for our readers. This was done with no request for a link back. He just wants to help his fellow anglers and we think that is pretty darn commendable. 





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