I love to target most warm-water predator fish using crankbaits. Afterall, the larger a predator fish gets, the more it relies on eating smaller fish and crankbaits come in so many actions, diving depths and colors to fool all warm-water feeding predator fish!! Our friend Gabor Horvat know this well and has been capitalizing on fishing crankbaits for smallmouth bass!
Fall feeding pattern
Fall is one of the best seasons to fish crankbaits as walleye, bass and pike feed heavily prior to water temperatures really plummeting and eventually freezing-up. Game fish take advantage of smaller fish like panfish, baitfish and even smaller gamefish that start to migrate from the shallows and head a little deeper.
Depth can be critical when fishing crankbaits in the fall. When water temps are still around 60F or warmer, weed-growth can still be healthy and both forage fish and gamefish will be feeding in water as shallow as 1′ depth. Fishing shallow rocky outcrops in open water can be extremely prductive. That’s the time to fish shallow running crankbaits like the Rapala BX Brat.
As temperatures start to drop below 60F and still remain in the 50F range, predator fish will follow their prey deeper usually feeding on them around the 10-25′ structure breaks away from weeds. That’s the time to fish the deeper sections of points, steeper dropping shorelines and open=-water shoals and reefs. medium diving crankbaits work well. One of my favorite is the Rapala Dives To 7 Flat.
When temperatures plummit below 50F, Smallmouth Bass hold even deeper mid day often schooling-up in high numbers in a small area during mid-day. Early and late in the day they may all move shallower to feed, but will return to the deeper open-water and literally become in-active.
This is the time to fish the shelves that often meet the main-lake basin in 20-40′ of water. The only way to reach those bass is to troll with a low diameter braided like, use a 200-300′ lead and a crankbait that will dive to 20+ feet.
Even those schooling in-active bass will be turned on to strike the crankbait!