UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Fish with Confidence in the Fall

Fish with Confidence in the Fall
James Niggemeyer

Fall can be a frustrating season for anglers chasing big bass, especially during the transition periods between summer and fall and fall and winter. As the weather gets colder and water temperatures drop, fish begin aggressively feeding on shad and other baitfish in anticipation for a more dormant winter, but that doesn’t make them easy to catch.

The key to not just catching – but finding – bass in the fall is to first find the bait.

Shad and other baitfish have an abundant supply of food during the warmer months of the year, as high water temperatures allow phytoplankton and other food sources to thrive throughout fisheries. As temperatures drop, that supply begins to dwindle, and baitfish typically start moving shallow in search of the last vestiges of forage.

Not all bass chase those baitfish into the shallows, but many do. The trick is to simply follow the forage. It’s really a matter of keeping it simple, according to nine-year FLW pro Bill McDonald.

“Follow the shad,” he says. “Bass might be structure-related, but they might move off [with the bait].

“Pay attention to what’s going on with the water, and do your homework before you go to the lake.”

“Homework,” in this case, is simply knowing what the water temperature and water levels might look like, as well as wind conditions and weather consistency. During periods of consistent weather, especially – like a week of mid-50s temperatures after a long hot spell – bass will be much easier to pattern.

“Fish don’t move a whole lot,” McDonald adds. “If you pull up somewhere you caught them yesterday, they’re probably still there. The bait may have moved, but the bass will be in the same general area.”

Once they’re located, catching them typically comes down to confidence baits for McDonald and fellow FLW pro James Niggemeyer.

 

Niggemeyer’s confidence baits

Fishing with baits that instill confidence is paramount to having fun and catching fish. But given the sheer volume of options these days, narrowing down the list can be complicated.

McDonald and Niggemeyer lean on just a handful of baits in the fall months to keep things as simple as possible.

Niggemeyer has four go-to baits in the fall, and when he fishes them, there isn’t much variation in the setups he uses to throw them.

“A spinnerbait, a walking bait like the Strike King Sexy Dawg, a Strike King KVD 1.5 or 2.5 square-bill crankbait and a swimbait,” Niggemeyer says. “I would lean on the square-bill over the spinnerbait, but those are the four.”

A topwater, like the Sexy Dawg Niggemeyer uses, is always key in the fall when bass are feeding on shad at the top of the water column. The only variation in his topwaters is the hooks he uses, often switching to a Kahle-style treble hook (with the hook points curved inward) to pin more fish that might swipe at his bait but aren’t fully committing to it.

For shallow subsurface fishing, Niggemeyer leans heavily on his square-bills and spinnerbaits, though the two are fairly interchangeable in his mind.

“In the fall when they want that spinnerbait, it’s when they’re looking up but don’t want that topwater,” he says. “I usually fish it higher in the water column in the fall.”

Niggemeyer uses 30- to 50-pound-test braided line with a copolymer or monofilament leader for most fall presentations, and while his rod selection varies with each lure, he almost always opts for a higher gear ratio for his reels (7.1:1 or higher).

“I like a higher gear ratio, mostly because it’s important to maintain proper pressure when you get a bite,” he explains. “You really bury the hook in the fight.

“You might not catch bunches of fish, but in the fall when you get a bite, it’s a good one.”

 

McDonald’s approach

McDonald loves the Strike King Rage Bug for Carolina and Texas rigging, as well as a jig trailer. It’s great for slower presentations. Crankbaits are McDonald’s go-to moving baits, but he also employs spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits depending on what the fish want. Like Niggemeyer, McDonald mixes a Strike King Sexy Dawg or Mega Dawg into his arsenal for the topwater bite.

And while there are endless variations of thousands of baits – and endless color choices to boot – there’s an easy way to simplify things.

“Keep it simple,” he says. “You can get overwhelmed by having a million different colors. Let the fish tell you what they want.”

Over the years, the fish have told McDonald he only needs a few colors in the fall: bone, shad and craw.

Knowing where fish will be in the fall is half the battle. Executing a solid game plan is the other half. Niggemeyer and McDonald both know how complicated fishing can be at other times of the year, but in the fall, simplicity is king when it comes to locating and catching big fish.

Tags: pro-tips-weekly  justin-onslow  article 

2019 BFL AOY Winners

2019 BFL AOY Winners

The T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) has long been one of the hardest-fought grassroots tournament circuits and the breeding ground for future pros and local legends. With five tournaments in each division, anglers have to contend against the best in their local area, often fishing against full-time guides or local anglers with dozens of tournament wins to their name on a given body of water. As such, winning the season-long Angler of the Year title in one of the 24 divisions is a monumental feat, something that only a couple BFL anglers have done more than a few times. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Jeremy Lawyer

Check-in Time: Jeremy Lawyer

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Missouri pro Jeremy Lawyer.  READ MORE »

Adrian College Wins School of the Year

Adrian College Wins School of the Year

The bass-fishing club at Adrian College is the best in the country, capping off the 2019 YETI FLW College Fishing season in first place overall with 2,350 points, and earning the team the title of 2019 YETI FLW College Fishing National School of the Year.  READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 4 Airs Wednesday

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 4 Airs Wednesday

Join FLW for a watch party for the premiere of Episode 4 of Rapala Varsity Bass presented by General Tire. The episode will air Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. CT. READ MORE »

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Bryan New has steadily been making a case to be considered one of the brightest rising stars of the sport. Five top 10s in T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) and Costa FLW Series events this year proves it, as does his inclusion in the Costa FLW Series Championship field. New gives an inside look at how he’s been tackling the puzzle that is the FLW Series Championship on what might prove to be an unusually stingy fishery. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Costa FLW Series Championship

FLW Live Schedule for Costa FLW Series Championship

FLW Live is back for the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Ky. The event will feature daily weigh-in broadcasts, as well as the full FLW Live studio broadcast, with live feeds from top anglers' boats, on the final two days. READ MORE »

Previewing the Costa Championship

Previewing the Costa Championship

When 200 pros (and 200 co-anglers) descend on the southern Kentucky reservoir for the Costa FLW Series Championship, they’ll be facing conditions that might look nothing like what they’ll see as the official practice period opens this weekend. Forecasts call for ample rain over the weekend, and lake levels are likely to fluctuate as a result. READ MORE »

2020 FLW Series Schedule and Details

2020 FLW Series Schedule and Details

Major League Fishing (MLF) and Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) recently announced the expanded 2020 FLW Series details, schedules, rules, entry fees and payouts. READ MORE »

2020 T-H Marine BFL Schedules and Details

2020 T-H Marine BFL Schedules and Details

Major League Fishing (MLF) and Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) recently announced the 202 BFL details, schedules, rules, entry fees and payouts. READ MORE »

2020 FLW Series and BFL Details

2020 FLW Series and BFL Details

Major League Fishing (MLF) and Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) announced today the expanded 2020 FLW Series and T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) details, schedules, rules, entry fees and payouts, highlighted by lower entry fees in both circuits and an expanded FLW Series schedule, along with upping the FLW Series Championship payout to $200,000 for first place and adding a $10,000 bonus for the highest-finishing pro from each of the eight U.S. FLW Series divisions and the International Division. READ MORE »

Ebare Eyes Strong Finish

Ebare Eyes Strong Finish

Ebare loves to fish. A lot. And he’s fished in 20 FLW events so far in 2019. His 21st will be the Costa FLW Series Championship at Lake Cumberland at the end of October, at which he hopes to earn his first win in FLW competition. READ MORE »

Floyd Cashes in on Guntersville

Floyd Cashes in on Guntersville

Last weekend, Floyd added to his already lengthy list of accomplishments with a T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Regional victory on Lake Guntersville – the tournament was presented by Mercury – with a 44-pound, 15-ounce three-day total, and it all came down to consistency and some really good decision-making. READ MORE »

B. Lat, MDJ Win Pan Am

B. Lat, MDJ Win Pan Am

Brian Latimer and Mark Daniels Jr. are best friends off the water, and it looks like they’ve got the makings of a deadly team on the water. Weighing five smallmouths for 21.16 pounds in the first session and 23.92 pounds in the second session, the pair totaled 45.08 pounds to win the individual competition in the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis. READ MORE »

Canada Wins Gold at Pan Am

Canada Wins Gold at Pan Am

Though Team USA locked up the top three places, Team Canada placed six teams in the top 10 and averaged 38.98 pounds to win the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis. Results were tallied based on the average weight brought in by each team in the two sessions of fishing, which almost guaranteed an extremely close finish. Earning a silver medal, Team USA finished just a hundredth of a pound back with a 38.97 average. READ MORE »

Canada Leads at Pan Am

Canada Leads at Pan Am

The first session of competition in the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis was a roaring success. After the morning weigh-in, Team Canada is leading with an average of 21.16 pounds, Team USA is in second with a 19.6 average, Team Akwesasne First Nation is in third with 18.62 and Mexico had an up and down morning to accrue a 17.24-pound average. READ MORE »

Do you need a generator for bass fishing?

Do you need a generator for bass fishing?

Austin Felix has been running a generator for a few years now, and his primary use is during the spring in the North, when he’s spending mega-days on the water practicing for tournaments that feature bedding smallmouths. READ MORE »

Day 1 Delayed at Pan Am

Day 1 Delayed at Pan Am

Because of steady rain and hard winds at around 20 mph or more, day one of the Pan American Bass Championship has been canceled. With gusts up to 40 mph in the forecast, the organizers have decided to fish two sessions on Friday instead. READ MORE »

Pan Am Gets Underway in Canada

Pan Am Gets Underway in Canada

With the official training day in the rearview, the Pan American Bass Championship starts Thursday, Oct. 16, on Lake St. Francis in Cornwall, Ontario. Teams from Mexico, the Akwesasne First Nation, Canada and the United States will be competing the next two days for glory and country, but also to help along the movement to make bass fishing an Olympic sport. READ MORE »

How to Find Big-Water Smallmouth in Fall

How to Find Big-Water Smallmouth in Fall

The key to finding smallmouth bass on big water in the fall is to know where they’re coming from and where they’re heading, then connecting the dots in between. Swimbaits, blade baits, ChatterBaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, drop-shots and Ned rigs all put bass in the boat. READ MORE »

Morris Locks up Central Division AOY

Morris Locks up Central Division AOY

It’s not often an angler wins a Strike King Angler of the Year title in a Costa FLW Series division by chance, and while skill is what carried Jake Morris to his first Costa AOY title, chance definitely brought him to the opportunity. READ MORE »