By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
Bass, especially in the big waters, are easing their way into the long-awaited fall pattern, signaling one of the hottest times of the year for fishing enthusiasts, the past months’ weather notwithstanding.
For those who like the fast and furious action of provoking big strikes from bass of every size by way of the Alabama rig, the year’s second season of opportunity is at hand.
After a summer spent primarily in deeper waters, the fall pattern finds bass moving shallow again, aggressively seeking food ahead of leaner days to come.
The food being sought primarily takes the form of schools of small silver baitfish, both gizzard and threadfin shad.
in the mood for food
“Bass hit shad really hard at two times of the year,” Wesley Hawkins, with Clay’s Bait and Tackle in Tupelo, said. “In the spring they do it before the spawn, and in the fall they do it in preparation for winter, because when the weather turns cold the shad die off to a certain extent.
“When the weather changes the shad numbers drop off dramatically and, before they do and before it turns cold, the bass instinctively feed hard and often.”
The Alabama rig works in those two times because of the way it keys on what the bass are doing in combination with what’s happening with the shad, Hawkins says.
In the spring when the bass are looking for shad, an Alabama rig outfitted with spinner baits or medium-range crank baits can look like an early school, one that’s formed before there are many shad to be found.
In the fall, especially as the shad numbers begin to decline, it looks like just what the bass are looking for.
In the area’s big bass waters like Bay Springs and Pickwick, where lake management practices coincide with the coming of fall as levels are intentionally lowered in anticipation of the coming winter rains, Hawkins says the bass can be located by following the shad, which tend toward the places that see creeks and rivers entering the lake.
“They’ll hold in the mouths of the creeks because, while the lake levels drop, the creek levels stay the same,” Hawkins said. “That’s what to look for. That’s where you’ll find them.”