Throughout the fall fish tend to spread out in search of food. With fish both shallow and deep, it can be hard to find one specific area that consistently holds bass this time of year. One of the best locations to look during this transition period are areas where fish can move shallow or deep with little effort.
This is when targeting bluff walls can become extremely effective. These bluffs provide the perfect structure for bass wanting to quickly move around the water column. Not only does this structure provide protection, but it also has deep water access and current. Bass will use this structure as a highway as they begin to chase bait into the backs of creeks. Fishing these bluffs can be a great way to catch some trophy bass this fall once you understand why they are productive and how to fish them.
DEEP WATER ACCESS
As water temperatures begin to cool, fish start the migration from their offshore haunts back towards shallow cover. These fish will often stay close to deep water for a time, giving them the option to quickly change their depth depending on the conditions. A bluff wall provides the perfect structure for fish to easily move up and down the water column. This is one of the main factors that make bluff walls so productive this time of year.
This deep water access also causes this type of structure to constantly reload with fish. You may fish a bluff wall first thing in the morning and only get one bite, then come back an hour later and catch multiple fish. It all depends on if fish have pulled up during that specific time. This high population of fish can make bluff walls a great location for tournament anglers and weekend warriors alike. While deep water access is often a factor in catching fall bass, current also plays a big role.
Bluff walls are often located on channel swing banks or other locations that receive a lot of current. This current plays a big role in getting fish to setup and feed on this type of structure. When there is little current, fish will often roam out off the bluff in search of baitfish. These fish can typically be targeted using live sonar and various types of shad imitations.
When the current is moving fish will hold tight to the bluff wall, waiting for bait to be washed down the rocks. This can be the most productive time to fish this type of location. Flipping a jig or Texas rig right against the wall is a great way to catch bass holding tight to cover in this scenario.
Bass can also be patterned based on how they sit in the current. Some days fish will sit right in the current and other days they like to tuck away, so understanding what the fish do each day is important. Once you understand where on the bluff wall these fish are sitting, you can be far more efficient when fishing them.
FINDING THE SWEET SPOT
While fish often spread out across an entire bluff, there is typically a sweet spot that holds the largest congregation of fish. This can be a point, tree or even a depression on a bluff wall. This is the most high percentage area on the bluff and can usually be hit multiple times throughout the day.
One of the best ways to find this type of location is by using live sonar. You can pan the bluff wall looking for groups of fish holding on a current break or other type of structure. You can then cast a jerkbait or swimbait at these groups of fish and often get bit multiple times.
On one of my local river systems, the sweet spot was always the part of the bluff that faced upriver. If you could find an area on the bluff that got directly hit with current, you would almost always catch one. This current pushes batfish up against the bluffs making it the perfect spot for bass to sit and ambush prey. Throwing an Alabama rig or jerkbait in these locations caught numerous largemouth, smallmouth and white bass with a few decent sized bass mixed in.
You can catch bass on bluff walls using a ton of different baits, however there are a few that I never like to go without. These include a Texas rig, jerkbait, topwater walking bait and an Alabama rig. A Texas rig is likely my most used bait for this type of cover and has produced some really big fish. This bait is extremely versatile and great for imitating forage such as shad or bluegill. It can be fished on both wood and rock and is a great all around bait for getting a bite. During the fall I like to flip a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver on a 5/16-ounce weight for a slower fall.
Another bait that is great on bluff walls this time of year is a jerkbait. This bait is great for calling fish to your bait in low current scenarios. This bait typically catches a lot of fish and some of my bigger smallmouth. Throwing it parallel to the bluff wall and bouncing it off structure between jerks is a great way to generate a reaction strike. Some of my favorite jerk baits to throw in the scenario include the Megabass Vision 110 and the Berkley Stunna.
A spook is another great option for catching bass on bluffs this time of year. With the high water temperatures fish are still extremely active, making a spook a great option especially when looking for larger sized fish. I like to parallel the bluff with my spook, as well as making long casts off the points of the bluff. One of my favorite spooks for this scenario is the Teckel Kicknocker.
Lastly, one of my favorite baits to throw on bluffs is an Alabama rig. This is an extremely productive bait on bluff walls, especially when fish are chasing shad. Throwing this parallel to the bluffs is a great way to call fish out from the rocks and get them to commit. You can also throw this bait at individual fish roaming off the bluff in low current scenarios. This can be especially productive if fish are chasing bait balls. Two of my favorite umbrella rigs for this scenario are the Diamond Baits 3 1/2-inch rig and the 6th Sense Divine Umbrella rig.
Fishing bluff walls throughout the fall can be a very consistent way to get bit. With fish beginning their fall feed, shad imitation baits will often work for catching fish on this type of structure. Utilizing todays technology can make fishing bluffs a blast, especially when lots of bass are present. If you struggle to find fish throughout the fall, fishing buff walls can often be a great way to get clued in on a bite.