Fall water temperature changes significantly impact the fall bite, with early drops being more effective. The critical time for determining the bite is when the bottom water becomes colder than the top. Fast-moving baits can help determine the fish's response to these changes. Winter brings more drastic changes, further affecting the bite.
Bass Fishing and Changing Water Temperature
As we progress into the fall, we will see plenty of water temperature change some of it will be positive for the fall bite and some will not. Determining the effect on your bite will have a lot to do with what the temperature is, how much it drops and how quickly the temperature moves from one day to another. The thing you can count on is the early fall drop in temperature will help the bite better than the late fall drop in temperature.
The key is where your lake water temperature starts from on a daily or at worst a weekly basis; short drops of 5 degrees or so from high 70 or low 80-degree temperature will turn the bite on. As the temperature changes and gets closer to the mid 60’s the drops will change the bite in a negative way. One of the keys is not necessarily the water temperature down to the 8 ft. level but rather the temperature below that as it forces negative change to the bite. Once the temperature gets colder on the bottom than the top of the water is a critical time in determining the bite, this is a turning point from fall to winter and everything changes.
The thing you can easily determine as the fall changes the water temperature is whether the fish are chasing; fast moving baits like rattle baits, spinner baits, swim baits are good choices to see if the bass are affected positively or negatively by the change in water temperature. Once they stop chasing you can determine that the deeper water has gotten colder than the shallower water, hence slowing the metabolism of the fish and ending the feeding fall frenzy.
Regardless of the time of year the bass react negatively to falling water temperatures when the deep water is colder than above. I have seen the effects of water temperature for many years now, and falling temps hurt the fishing under these conditions. However, the drops from hot water to cooling temps increase the bite and make timing everything when it comes to getting on the water. It may move the bite from a top water bite to a bottom bite and force you to fish different but there will be a change. On lakes like Guntersville that has big grass mats one of the keys is moving the oxygen, not only does that take falling temperatures but it takes wind and rain to break up the grass so the bass move on from the safe haven of being tucked under grass.
The progression as the year moves on becomes a game changer for the bite; winter sets in the up’s and downs are more drastic and drops in temperature become a bigger problem and hurt the bite even more. This past month of March has been an example of my years of personal experience. The water temperature took a downturn around the 10th of the month, the bass were feeding and active and they shut off like turning off a facet. The water temperature dropped from 55 degrees to 49 and it was like fishing for ghosts.
To me this is not only been my experience in the spring but also in the middle of summer, I have seen times when we had 90 degree water and we were catching fish on top water all day long and all of a sudden the a cold front comes through drops the water temperature a few degrees and we are struggling for a bite. It like a shock to their system and a perfectly good few days on the water becomes a struggle.
The real question is what happens and what you can do to find active fish; I believe in order to find them under these conditions you must first understand what happened. So now we can relate to the issue and the result and the real answer is the fish need to be hand fed while the water temperature stabilizes or comes back up. This is an ideal time to really go to slow moving and precise fishing, like working a jig or a worm, a shaky head or even a Carolina rig very slowly around the edges of the very area you were catching them on top. This also is a perfect time to go to a suspending bait to let the bait rock and entice a bass while his body is recovering from the shock of the temperature change.
Dropping water temperature means activity slows, fish slower and you can deal with it. Short drops fall versus winter timing and bottom to top temperature all come into play but understanding what your facing will make it easier to overcome!
Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service
Call: 256 759 2270
Captain Mike Gerry
In The Spread is one of the world's premier sport fishing video companies and educational outlets for demonstration, explanation and insight on how to catch fish. Get inside access to our video library by becoming a member.Mike Gerry In The Spread, Instructor