Chatterbaits are a great spring bait, but many people don’t know that they can be equally effective in the fall. As baitfish move into the shallows and bass feed on them, chatterbaits can catch great quality and numbers of bass.
If you’re fishing stained to muddy water in the middle of fall, try the tips below and I’m sure you’ll be hooking up in no time. The keys to fishing chatterbaits in the fall is picking the right areas to throw them, using bait-fish imitating colors and trailers, and using unique retrieves to really entice the bass’s attention.
Where to throw a chatterbait
First we will discuss the areas in the fall where a chatterbait will be a great bait. Fall can be a really challenging time to find bass. While they move shallow much like they do in spring, they are not looking to spawn. Because of this, it’s harder to determine where they’re going to congregate and they often spread out across a lake more chasing wherever the baitfish go.
Thankfully, you can fish a chatterbait quickly which makes it ideal for covering a lot of water to find where the bass are hanging out. And it can also be fished in a variety of different depths, and bass do change depths often even in the same day sometimes in the fall. So if they’re in 2 feet on rocky banks, a chatterbait will work. Or if they are hanging on tree stumps on secondary points in 10 feet, chatterbaits can work there too.
The first place that I am going to try throwing chatterbaits in fall is secondary points. These are points that exist in the “fingers” or creeks of the lake where it is more shallow than on the main lake itself. Oftentimes, baitfish and their predators will move from the main creek channels where they spend much of the summer into these shallower areas to feed as the water cools.
As the baitfish head shallower and towards the backs of the creeks, these secondary points become great ambushing spots for bass to sit and wait for easy meals. You will find the most active bass sitting right on top of the point, feeding where the water is shallowest. If there is natural cover like stumps, rocks, or brush – even better. You should focus throwing right on tops of these points with a chatterbait first – just reeling over them and bumping into any cover you can find.
However, if this doesn’t work, you want to start fishing the sides of the point where the water gets deeper. Bass sitting here are less likely to feed aggressively, but will eat a chatterbait if fished correctly. Again, try to bump into any cover you can find and if not, head down to the bottom of this article and learn about the unique retrieves that can get bites.
A second great spot to throw chatterbaits are rocky banks, especially if wind is blowing across them. Fall bass fishing revolves around finding baitfish, as the bass are often chasing them around the whole season. Rocky banks that have wind blowing across them is an ideal place for baitfish to wind up in fall.
The wind pushes baitfish into the banks as they are often too small to fight against it and don’t expend their energy to try and swim out from the choppy water pushing them in from the main lake. Baitfish also like to sit on rocky banks as the creatures living in the little cracks and crevices of rocks become food for them and many things fall from the rocks above for them to feed on.
And bass LOVE eating the bait fish that congregate there in fall. They can use the bank as a dead end and chase bait into the rocks to feed. Again, the bass that you’ll find in these area are hungry and actively looking to feed, so throw right on the bank and bump the chatterbait into rocks to create reaction strikes. I’ve found using green pumpkin and other panfish colored baits works especially well for this technique in fall.
Flats with Cover
A final place that you can throw chatterbaits effectively in fall are large flats with any type of cover across them. Bait will swim across the shallow flats of a lake as the water cools looking for food on the bank. However, unlike the point or rocky bank, bass don’t have a natural place to chase these baitfish if a flat has nothing on it. They will end up chasing bait all day and only eating a few instead of the meal they’re really looking for.
This is why flats with cover is key for fishing a chatterbait in fall. You can just throw a chatterbait on flats all day and catch a bass or two. But find one that has tree stumps, thick vegetation, brush, or scattered rocks on them and you can pinpoint areas where bass will be hiding waiting to catch baitfish as they swim by. As mentioned with all above, bump into the cover with the chatterbait. If a bass is sitting by it ambushing prey, they will hit it out of instinct.
My favorite pattern in fall is finding a large flat with stumps or other single tree trunks across it. If you throw a chatterbait into these stumps and bump it around – I can guarantee a few bites.
Chatterbait Trailers for Fall
Unlike the many areas that you can fish a chatterbait in fall – trailers are a little more simple. There is one best type of chatterbait trailer in fall – some type of paddle tail swimbait.
Bass are feeding on baitfish more than any other type of forage in fall, so you want to mimic it to the best of your ability. A paddle tail swimbait is a great mimic for shad, herring, or other small baitfish. My personal favorite is a Gary Yamamato Zako swimbait, but any paddle style swimbait will work. Just remember to try and best match the size and color of the bait in your area.
One technique I have learned from Gene Jensen, aka Flukemaster on YouTube, is to rig a swimbait upside down on a chatterbait to enhance its action. The vibration that a chatterbait makes in the water naturally causes many swimbaits to not move naturally when used as a trailer. If you rig it upside down so that the tail is actually swimming above the blade, it gets more clean water and can move more easily. Try it and see if your bites improve.
If you are mimicking a large bait fish because your lake doesn’t have smaller fish like shad, I would consider using a grub style bait or something bigger than a paddle tail. I have had great success taking a rage tail menace in watermelon and flipping it sideways on a hook to look more like a bluegill. You can catch some giant bass in ponds with this technique in fall.
Unique Chatterbait Retrieves
Now that you know how to rig your chatterbait and where to throw it – we just need to know different ways to work a chatterbait in fall. Reeling a chatterbait slowly and letting it vibrate will get you bites from the bass that are looking to feed – so it’s fine if you’re in an area or time when they’re active. But if the bass aren’t extremely active you might have to coax them into biting with a retrieve style below.
One of my favorite ways to entice bites is by burning a chatterbait. You can do this with most moving baits – as it’s simply just reeling the bait about as fast as you can but still keeping it below the water and doing it’s normal action. With a chatterbait, you can reel about as fast as you want and it will still have it’s action, but be careful to make sure your trailer is still swimming correctly with how fast you reel.
While you can just reel quickly alone and occasionally get bites, I find it much more effective to burn a chatterbait and then kill it – or stop winding completely. This makes it look like a fleeing baitfish which then suddenly stops and sinks down before you pick it back up again. If you do that by a piece of cover that bass may be hanging on, you can often entice a bite as the fleeing sensation gets their attention, then killing it in front of their face coerces a bite.
If burning isn’t your cup of tea or you think the bass are in a little slower mood you can try yo-yo’ing a chatterbait instead. Here, you are going to lift the chatterbait several feet into the air somewhat quickly and then let it fall back down. You can do it repeatedly the whole way in, wind normal halfway and yo-yo at certain points, get creative with it. You almost always will get bites on the fall with technique so be prepared to set the hook when picking your bait back up after the fall.
Fish it like a jig
This is a really underrated technique that can get bites when nothing else does. A vibrating jig really is a jig with the “chatter” on the front, so fishing it like a jig makes sense anyways. But if you bounce it across the bottom you can get the additional vibration that a normal jig doesn’t always present. If fish are really tight lipped, this can be a deadly way to fish a chatterbait.
Just remember that of all the techniques this is by far the slowest, so you will want to be sure that you are in a bass holding area if possible. You can burn and yo-yo a chatterbait and still move quickly. But if you’re going to bounce a vibrating jig across the bottom you’ll be taking hours just to cover a few areas which might not even have bass on them.
Hopefully this article has convinced you that you need to fish a chatterbait this fall. Find some secondary points, rocky banks, or flats with cover and fish them hard using the different retrieves mentioned above. Paddle tails are my favorite trailer for fall especially, so pick some up in your favorite bait imitating colors. I can guarantee if you do all that, you will catch some great fall bass.