The meek might inherit the earth, but the bold will win the day when fishing for late-season river smallmouth. As water temperatures drop and days get short, smallmouth bass pack on the pounds. My mantra in fall is stay aggressive and stay focused. Try these tips to help you scare up some big smallmouth bass in the fall season.

4 Fall Smallmouth Bass Fishing Tips

1 Choose the Right Rods and Reels

To make a long, accurate cast at cruising smallies in clear water, use a seven-foot, medium-action spinning rod. Blazing fast presentations call for a high-speed 7:1 ratio spinning reel.

Spool the reel with six-pound braid. Braided line floats producing less drag in moving water for more effective surface presentations. Connect a three-foot length of fluorocarbon leader to your braid using a uni-to-uni knot. Connect the lure with an improved cinch knot.

man catches smallmouth bass while kayak fishing in the fall
Stay aggressive and stay focused to scare up some big smallmouth bass in the fall season. | Feature photo: Courtesy of Old Town Canoes & Kayaks

2 Get Smallies on the Get-Away

No smallmouth can ignore the clatter, splash and bubble trail of a Hubs Chub or Heddon Torpedo. Chrome colors are the ticket in clear fall flows. Target expansive shallow rock and boulder-strewn areas adjacent to deep river channels. Make long casts to large chunks of rock, subsurface boulders and deep pockets.

When the bait touches down, immediately make several quick, short downward chops of the rod tip. Let the bait pop back to the surface for just an instant then go into a steady, medium-speed retrieve for three or four feet. That’s called the get-away. Repeat the sequence back to the kayak. Smallmouth will usually hit on the get-away.

3 Hit Fast Water with Buzzing Soft Swimbaits

Use a five- to seven-inch boot-tail, soft swimbait. Minnow imitations are best. Match colors to local baitfish. Rig the bait with a 1/8-ounce, 4/0 to 5/0 offset swimbait hook.

Work fast water chutes in rock gardens and ledge systems from top to bottom. Many anglers believe this stretch of water is too fast to hold fish, but smallies wait in ambush for bait that becomes confused in the wash.

Cast and burn the lure so it buzzes across the surface. Strikes will come fast, so be ready to set the hook. Don’t react to the initial splash. Wait until the rod loads and then drive the hook home.

man casts for smallmouth bass while fishing in the fall
Cast soft plastic lures along the surface to provoke the late-season bite. | Photo: Courtesy of Old Town Canoes & Kayaks

4 Sling a Skittering Jerkbait on the Surface

To imitate a fleeing baitfish, use a five- to seven-inch soft jerkbait. Hook the soft plastic through the nose with a 1/0 circle hook. Keep the hook exposed to improve the hook-up ratio. A white plastic is easy to see when the fish attacks.

Throw at flowing water that stacks up in front of exposed boulders, exposed ledge rock, small grass islands or gravel bars. The soft plastic can go deep into structure because it is practically snag-proof.

As soon as the lure hits the water, close the bail by hand and make several short snaps with the rod tip that will cause the bait to skitter across the surface. Then, quickly reel up any slack and repeat the sequence. The goal is to keep the bait on the surface.

This article was first published in the Fall 2016 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Stay aggressive and stay focused to scare up some big smallmouth bass in the fall season. | Feature photo: Courtesy of Old Town Canoes & Kayaks




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