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How to Combat Lake Turnover in Bass Fishing

Turnover….and we don’t mean apple.

Fall is usually one of the best times to catch fish. Water temps are cooling, shad and/or baitfish are bunched up and bass begin to look for an easy snack to satisfy hunger during the long winter ahead. Water color is usually clear to a bit stained and many of the lakes are drawn down to winter pool in anticipation for spring rains. All of the aforementioned variables mean the bass have the feedbags on…..right? Not necessarily if turnover comes sooner than expected.

Turnover is a layman’s term for the switch of cold and warm water in the water column. Warmer subsurface water is replaced with cooler surface water as night time temps drop into the low fifties. In recent days the water temps have dropped to 71 or 72 on the surface and only a week or so ago they were in the high eighties on our local lake. A tell-tale sign of this turnover is dingy water color, clumps of vegetation once firmly attached to the bottom surface  seen floating and the shad are moving up shallow, many times running the bank on points and shorelines.

Fishing the turnover can mean tough conditions, and a general rule we follow is moving shallow. Oxygen levels are better shallow, the water cleans up quicker and the bass that are on the feed are usually pushing them into pockets and creeks. A good starting point to look for transition fish is the mouths of larger bays and secondary points. As bass come up from their summer-time haunts they transition to the first available cover where food is plentiful. Large “wolfpacks†of bass will push shad and baitfish against these banks, and it can be fast and furious when they are found.

Some of the baits we recommend are Zoom  Flukes, Buckeye Pulse Jigs, Strike King Pro Model  buzzbaits, Redeye Shad, Rat-L-Trap  lipless rattling baits, Spro Little John  crankbaits and of course Strike King spinnerbaits around shallow cover. We like 1/2-ounce spinnerbaits and usually will go with tandem willow blades this time of year.  Colors are area dependent, but we like shad imitators and lures with a lot of flash so chrome combinations are good.

Stumps are a big factor this time of year as they warm the water faster than the surrounding area and bass will congregate in and around them. A 3/8-ounce jig and chunk is a good bet for them. Anglers should pick the cover apart this time of year. Starting on the outside and moving into the heaviest and  thickest part of each object.
Rip rap is also another great area to target with jigs and plastic products. Paralleling the rock with small crankbaits, chatterbaits and spinnerbaits can also be effective.

It’s also a great time to fish topwaters like the Lucky Craft Sammy, a Heddon Zara Spook, Storm Rattlin’ Chug Bugs and poppers.

Turnover can slow the action down for a few days, but it won’t be long before the action heats up. Timing is critical this time of year. Returning to good areas more than once a day is the rule versus the exception, and when the fish move up, it’s “Katie Bar the Door†time.