When the Leaves Change Colors, Do You?
Submitted by Full Limit Outdoor Media
There are many signs of summer transitioning to fall. The days get shorter. The night gets cooler. Lawns turn a dull brown. However, none are perhaps more noticeable than the artistic landscape provided by the trees whose leaves suddenly become aglow with fiery orange, reds and yellows. It’s as if as everything else is becoming void of color, the trees are showing out one final time before shedding for the winter.
Being in the outdoors, we’ve all seen it and we’ve all taken note of it. What is the significance of this process to an angler? Well I’m glad you asked. It is a telltale sign that bass are in the fall pattern and that bass anglers should potentially take a cue from the trees and change colors.
Growing up on Kentucky Lake and Tennessee River has molded me into an offshore bass fisherman. Apart from small windows in spring and fall, I, and many others, almost exclusively search for schools of bass out away from the bank. It’s what we do. It also lends itself to specializing in a few specific baits and techniques. The two that I want to key on for this article are the crankbait and the jig.
Crankbaits come in about as many different color variations as the aforementioned leaves in the fall. Depending on where you are located, or where you are fishing, color can be greatly dependent on several factors. These include water clarity, depth and obviously, forage. The thing is, that despite these factors, we typically find ourselves employing the same colors year after year. On Kentucky Lake, withstanding a run on a hot color, it most always has been and will be Chartreuse/ Powder Blue Back (color #561) and Citrus Shad (Color #534). Neither really look like a shad. They both really get bit.
BUT, in the fall, when the leaves change, your crankbait colors should as well. Scratch that. Your “HARDBAIT” colors should as well. All my topwaters (Sexy Dawg), my crankbaits (KVD 1.5 and Series 5) and my lipless baits (Red Eyed Shad and Two Tap) will be exclusively in shad patterns and similar hues. I like Sexy Shad (#590), Oyster (#584) and Splatterback (#570) right now as they mimic the number one food source in this part of the country; shad…….
Can you still catch them on Chart/Powder Blue? I’m sure. But I KNOW that bass are totally keyed in on schools of shad that are in shallow water and they are feeding visually. It’s not quite like the offshore schools in the summer where you want something that looks right for the water color and you drag it through them and get them going. These fall bass are hunting shad.
Now let’s talk jigs for a second. When the shad chasers aren’t real active, they typically still relate to break lines and structural changes. It is here that they will still eat a jig. I learned a little trick several years back on Lake Cherokee in east Tennessee and successfully applied it recently on Lake Douglas. I have seen it be a difference maker several times in between all up and down the TN River. I will take a 3/8 or 1/2 ounce Tour Grade Football Jig, primarily in Green Pumpkin (Color #46) and trim the skirt to the back of the hook. Here comes the color part. I will then use a cut down Rage Craw, or a Baby Rage Craw, in Bama Craw (Color #101) as a trailer. If I don’t have any Bama Craws trailers, I will die the tips of the pinchers on a Green Pumpkin trailer with orange die.
The crawfish this time of year will molt and that causes their exoskeleton (I know that’s a big word for a TN boy) to change colors. That orange hue indicates that a crawfish is molting and is the equivalent of an oven timer to a hungry bass. Molting crawfish are easier to see and are softer shelled. Both make bass happy.
When you see the leaves changing colors, let it always be a reminder that we need to the same. Hopefully the view you have of a bow in your line will rival that of Mother Nature showing off!