Thanks for the report @bass. Those are some beautiful fish and looks like you had a beautiful day on the water. I love Fall bass fishing with the cooler weather, less pleasure craft and the leaves starting to change.I hit the upper Willamette out of 10th street on the 20th. It was a really gorgeous day that started out chilly and foggy, ended up sunny and hot, and the smallmouth were cooperative all day long.
From my last trip I knew the bass would be in the fall transition. I am sure most folks know this but I will say it anyway. When this happens not every fish transitions at once.
There is a large percentage that make the move but there are always groups that continue that summer pattern. They are the smallmouth equivalent of the folks that can't take a hint that a party is over or the table that continues to hang out in a restaurant long after the open sign has been turned off.
On this trip most of the fish I caught came out of a fall-like pattern. Fish were not on top of the humps but in the holes around the humps and at the edges of humps that had deeper water.
Even though those fish made up the bulk of my catch I was able to catch 4 bass on topwater when the came up at various times busting bait. I only caught one of those on video but it is just such a fun experience.
In the case I caught on video I was throwing a deep crankbait in some deeper water between two humps. All of a sudden bait was skittering and bass were busting just off to my left. I quickly reeled in the crankbait, picked up my topwater and tossed on top of them. I immediately got bit and landed a nice smallmouth. Just awesome fun!
They came up about 1/2 dozen times during the day. I raced to them each time. Twice I did not get there in time but 4 times I hit paydirt. I through the topwater a lot during the day (off and on) but I only caught one fish on the topwater by just covering water and that was my first fish of the day.
The fall transition is interesting because it is easy to get sucked into sticking with a summer pattern because that pattern will produce some fish, but you end up fishing over fewer fish.
Another indicator for me that the fall transition is happening is that I start to catch more pikeminnows on the humps. It seems like once the bass abandon them the pikeminnow move it. Or it may be that they are always there but the bass outcompete them when they are both there.
In either case, if you start catching pikeminnows on "bass" spots that is an indicator to change things up. When you see this on the end of your line start to think about fishing deeper and changing up your game.
So, I did not completely abandon the summer patterns but I only fished them when the bass pretty much screamed "Here we are and we are hungry"
Most of my fish for the day came on a drop shot in 15-30' of water. The most productive spots were rocky areas close to sharp drops. I did a mix of blind casting and video game fishing. I caught a lot of my fish by seeing them on my sonar and dropping on their heads. That is not as exciting as a topwater bite but it is really cool in its own way.
True to normal fall fishing, the average size of the fish were nicer. Lots of pound and a half smallmouth. My big fish of the day was only 1lb 15oz but I lost several big fish (and quite a few normal fish) when the hook pulled out. I don't understand what was going on with that. I did change to a bigger hook and that seemed to help some (but caused a lot of line twist with the drop shot). I still need to find a better solution
Here are some pics from the day:
Here is a short video with some of the fish from the day. If you just want to see the schooling fish topwater bite jump to the 8:55 mark:
That was awesome fun just to watch, I can imagine how thrilling it was for you.I quickly reeled in the crankbait, picked up my topwater and tossed on top of them. I immediately got bit and landed a nice smallmouth. Just awesome fun!