The cooler weather has me fired up to go bass fishing, but I keep reminding myself this happens every fall. The weather changes and I think the bass change their feeding patterns immediately but they don’t respond as fast as I hope. But does cooler weather help bass fishing.
I went to Lake Oconee last Sunday with Cody Stahl and Tate Van Egmond for a Georgia Outdoor News article. For the first time in many months I was actually cold riding in a boat!
Cody and Tate won the Georgia BASS High School Championship at Eufaula last fall then came in 10th in the National High School Championship on Kentucky Lake this past spring. They attend CrossPointe Christian Academy in Hollonville and represent their school well. Both are very nice young men.
Cody and Tate both play sports and are good at their positions in football, but Cody really loves fishing and plans to attend a college next year with a fishing team so he can continue what he likes best. There are many colleges in Georgia and Alabama that offer scholarships for bass fishing, just like other sports.
Cody and Tate are very good fishermen and work together as a team while fishing. I was impressed with their skills and knowledge of fishing and bass patterns. Although fishing was still tough, we landed several short bass and Cody caught three keepers, including one weighing 3.5 pounds.
We fished shallow docks, the same thing I did the week before when I zeroed a Flint River Bass Club tournament at Oconee. The way Cody fished them was a little different. He can skip a bait under a dock much better than I can.
Bass under docks see baits a lot since a lot of people fish around them. If your bait doesn’t get back under the dock a long way they often won’t hit. And if the bait makes a big splash when it hits it seems to turn the fish off. They know it is not real.
Fishing has improved some and will get even better during the next few weeks. The Potato Creek Bassmasters fished their September tournament at Oconee last Saturday and did much better than the Flint River Club did the week before.
In their tournament, 12 members landed 24 keepers weighing 50 pounds. Kwong Yu won with a five fish limit weighing 9.57 pounds, Mike Cox was second with four at 8.10 pounds, Wesley Gunnels came in third with three weighing 6.45 pounds and Niles Murray was fourth with three at 6.27 pounds. Donnie Willis had big fish with a 3.50 pound largemouth.
In comparison, Niles came in second in the Flint River tournament the week before with two bass weighing 3.04 pounds and the nine Flint River members caught only six keepers. That is a good sign the fishing is getting better.
Bass are cold blooded so their body is the temperature of the water they are in. They are most active when water temperatures are between 68 and 72 degrees. At Oconee in the Flint River tournament the water was 88 degrees, making them sluggish. By the next week it had dropped to 81 degrees, still hotter than the best range but much better.
As the water cools and bass become more active they will chase a faster moving bait, and go further to eat it. They also move to more shallow water. They will feed more and more until the water drops into the 50s in December. Then they become more sluggish until it warms in the spring.
When water is too far above or below the best range the bass tend to go to deeper water and not feed as much so they are harder to catch. Fishermen have to change the way they fish and the baits they use to catch fish as conditions change all year long.
In water near the optimum range faster moving baits like crankbaits and spinnerbaits allow you to cover more water, fish more places and catch more fish. Slower moving baits like worms and jigs usually work best when the water is too cold or hot.
For the next three months fishing will be much more comfortable for the fisherman and fishing will be better. Combine that with the fact most pleasure boaters are off the water so you don’t rock and roll all day, and many part time fishermen are in the woods hunting or stuck in front of TVs watching football. That is why fall is my favorite time of the year to fish.