5 Topwater Tips for Late Fall Bass on Reservoirs

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Professional bass angler Randall Tharp delivers a comprehensive lesson on finding and catching bass using topwater baits during the late fall on main reservoir channels. As Tharp notes, there’s a commonly held misconception that all the bass migrate to the backs of creeks in the fall, but the main river channel can be productive, especially on Tennessee River lakes. Forage often relate to green grass and current adjacent to the main river channel — find these elements, and you’re bound to score big. *Product and gear links below. 

Here are Tharp’s 6 topwater tips to more late fall bass:
  1. Target bass in the main lake. As mentioned above, many anglers flood to the backs of creeks, but baitfish (and bass) often stay adjacent to the main river channel, especially if there’s green grass and some current. Use your electronics and naked eye to find shallow structure and cover, then focus your efforts on the current-exposed edges. Fish exposed to current tend to bite more frequently,
  2. Find the bait, find the bass. Again, vast schools of baitfish (gizzard and threadfin shad) remain in the main lake. The colder the water, the tighter the bait groups together. Keep moving if you do not see bait on your graph(s) or the naked eye.
  3. Use topwaters. Experience has shown Tharp that topwater lures produce a bigger average size fish. Additionally, few baits can fire up the school like a buzzbait or walking bait fished through shad busting the surface, which leads us to #5.
  4. Select topwater baits based on the conditions. Tharp’s favorite topwater baits are a frog, walking bait, and buzzbait. The key is choosing the right one for the situation. He opts for the more aggressive buzzbait in overcast conditions when there’s some wind. Go with a walking bait in calm conditions, as it’s more subtle.
  5. Use walking baits around and in the cover. Bass can’t resist the subtle side-to-side sashay of a walking bait in the grass. You’ll be surprised what you can fish these baits through with a bit of finesse.