If you want to beat other anglers to unmolested fish, now’s the time to consider the “Sall” pattern.
That’s what I call that transition period that bridges summer and fall patterns.
It’s when most anglers are still out pounding the ledges, working over schools of fish that have seen more lures than a Bass Pro Shop. While there are plenty of fish there, they become less susceptible to traditional crankbaitin’, Carolina Riggin’, jig tactics.
Enter the “sall” pattern, when days grow shorter, nights a little cooler and some bass begin abandoning main lake structure and head shallow.
And so should you. Most anglers know that cooler weather sends bass to the creeks, coves, and shallow weeds later in the year, but now’s when you need to be thinking ahead of the game.
I’m not saying there’s going to be a lot of fish on every piece of shallow cover just yet. But there might be one or two, and if you’re the first to get there, you’re gonna catch ‘em.
Where: When looking for “sall” fish, I start poking around halfway and two-thirds of the way back into the creeks that bass use later in the fall. I’m looking for brush piles, stumps or docks bordering creek bends and near deep water. That’s where fish coming from the summer pattern start their move shallow. Later in the fall, those fish may be farther up on the flats.
But not now.
A key is to recognize clues that bait is in the area. It might be shad flicking on the surface, balls of bait appearing on the depthfinder, or minnows and bluegills around shore. If there’s no life, keep moving until you find it.
When: The time of day doesn’t matter, although you may see more activity in the morning. Water clarity matters; avoid ultra clear water and seek lightly stained water. Water temperature isn’t a factor; it’s all about the bait. Also, sunny days are better because they hold fish tighter to the cover.
How: When all the ingredients come together, pitch small baits to isolated pieces of cover, which I prefer over massive brush piles; it’s easier to present your lure to the one or two fish in there. Besides, if there’s a lone tree, dock or brush pile on a bank sitting close to deep water, it’s likely gonna hold a bass or two.
The early migrators are a little edgy, so you need a stealthy approach. Don’t get on top of the cover, because if there’s a bass in there, you might spook him.
Lures: Here’s where you can get a leg up on other anglers. Most people pitch big, bulky baits, like jigs with big trailers, worms with a lot of action or creature baits with a lot of appendages.
Not me. This is when I prefer straight-tail worms, like the Zoom Trick Worm or Magnum Finesse Worm in watermelon candy or green pumpkin colors. The bass aren’t ready for a lot of lure action; they’re just coming out of the summer lull and aren’t in a chasin’ mood. I’ve tried spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits and shallow crankbaits during the “sall” period, but the bass usually aren’t interested.
If they’re feeding on shad or bream (bluegills), they will hit that straight-tail worm most of the time. You can pitch it in there, hop it and let it glide. That’s when they bite it.
I rig it with a 3/0 TroKar lightwire EWG hook with a 3/16-ounce tungsten sinker. That combination enters the water quieter, doesn’t burrow into the bottom, and creates a natural falling action. I don’t peg the sinker because I like the worm and weight to separate so that the bait glides when it falls.
Gear: I pitch with a 7-4 Quantum Smoke Rod, 14-pound Vicious Elite fluorocarbon spooled on a Smoke baitcaster. The line may seem a little light to some, but you can make longer pitches with lighter line and the bait performs more naturally. The rod has a soft tip which enhances pitching and it works better with the wire hook. The rod also has the new micro guides that lighten up the rod, improve casting distance and feel.
Finding fish is half the battle to compiling a successful “sall” pattern, but making good presentations with the right lure is going to put you ahead of the curve and have you catching fish your buddies are overlooking.