If I had to pick one month to bass fish – it would probably be October. The weather is usually perfect as it cools down into autumn, the lakes don’t have as many jet skis or powerboats, and if you know how to fish them correctly you catch more bass than any other time of the year.
October is great because bass head shallow feeding on bait fish which makes them easy to target and very active. If you target the right areas, keep moving to find the actively feeding schools, and use baitfish imitation type lures you are sure to catch bass this October.
Where to fish for bass in October
Many people don’t have success bass fishing in October simply because they don’t know where to look. And the answer is actually quite simple – the bass are wherever the baitfish are.
So this is why electronics are very important when bass fishing in October. You’ll need to graph locations to see if you can find big balls of shad or other small baitfish in areas to know if it’s even worth fishing. If you go through a creek and see no balls of baitfish at all – you don’t even need to waste time fishing it. Just go to the next one.
But some of us aren’t lucky enough to have great electronics or even a boat when bass fishing. Don’t worry, there are still some areas which are highly likely to hold baitfish, and therefore bass, in October.
Fishing flats in fall
Baitfish like to come up into flats during October and feed aggressively in the shallow water before they’ll move back out to the deeper parts of the lake in Winter where there are less bugs and plankton to feed on.
The bass also chase them up into these flats when they can to get easy meals. So using baitfish imitation lures across flats is a great way to catch bass in October.
But there are likely many flats in your local lake or pond. So how do you know which ones have baitfish or actively feeding bass? There are two main signs I look for to know if baitfish are on a flat and if bass are likely to be there preying on them.
First, look for a ditch, creek channel, or some source of deep incoming water near the flat. The reason for this is it provides oxygen, something that baitfish need dearly to survive. During the summer, much of the oxygen in the water will dissolve in the heat. This is just returning to normal in October and much of fall – so the inflowing, oxygenized water is very attractive to baitfish.
So if you have a large flat that ends into a creek channel or even an incoming creek – you’re in a great location to find lots of baitfish. Or if there is a deep ditch just outside of the flat, that also can provide a good oxygen source for the baitfish. And since there will be lots of baitfish in those areas, there will also be a lot of hungry bass.
But you can also look for another feature that bass love on flats – and that is any type of cover. The issue with a large flat is bass have nothing to chase bait into. They will just flee across the long flat bottom and the bass has no way to ambush, surprise, or collapse on the baitfish to feed.
Stumps, boulders, brush, or any other type of cover can provide this ambushing opportunity. Bass will sit close to one side of cover just waiting for baitfish to swim by so they can get an easy meal. Or they will chase the bait into these areas of cover where the fish have no where to go. So bass really want to find these pieces of cover on flats where the baitfish are feeding.
So even if you don’t have a fish finder, you can find long flats with ditches or creek channels by using your eyes or looking at a topographical map like you will find on Navionics Webapp. Once you have found several, try finding any spots of cover on the flats and focus your casting there and you will be in high probability locations to catch bass.
Fishing Points for bass in fall
If you are unable to catch bass on flats at your lake, the next place I would look towards are points. Points are great locations to catch bass all year long, but are especially productive in October.
A point is simply where land comes out further from the bank than everywhere around it, creating two sides of deeper water on the sides and one “point” of land that comes out into the water and creates a shallow area.
Baitfish in October will use the deeper sides of the point to spend most of their time but will often swim on the shallowest parts of the points to feed. This is when bass like to come up and eat them in the shallow water where they have an advantage. It’s another easier way to pin them into an area. They will of course use any cover like stumps or rocks too if available.
So when trying to determine which points you want to fish in October, try the ones with nice shallow areas on top of them with some sort of cover like stumps, rocks, or brush piles. These are the most ideal locations for bass to feed and your highest percentage areas.
You’ll also want to start on the very shallowest part of the point and work your way to the sides. This is because the most actively feeding bass will be on the very top of the point eating baitfish. The ones on the sides and bottoms of the point are likely not active and just hanging there until they’re ready to feed. You can still catch them, but they aren’t as easy.
Move around often to catch more bass in October
One mistake that I see very often from fisherman in October especially is simply not covering enough water. There will be hundreds if not thousands of baitfish schools across a lake. And bass will be chasing after many of them.
So even if you have graphed and area and see bait everywhere, have them in a great location where bass should be chasing them, but just can’t seem to catch any bass – just move on to another one. In October especially, bass will feed hard and then randomly quit.
So don’t get stuck on one area too much – they might just not be active at that time. Instead, find several different areas to fish and hit them all, then come back to your first if you so wish. You can fish a spot for fifteen minutes and not catch anything. Then come back hours later and catch them every cast. For some reason, they just started feeding aggressively.
But you aren’t going to make them feed by just constantly casting into them. So keep moving and try to find some bass that are actively feeding. Bass also spread out in October more than most times of the year.
So while you can definitely catch multiple bass from one hole, you aren’t likely to catch them like you will in summer from one spot. Instead move around and pull as many bass from as many spots as you can.
The best bass lures to use in October
Now we know where you are fishing and how you should be fishing – lets talk about what you should be fishing with.
Because you should be moving often and you are targeting bass that are feeding on baitfish – everything that I recommend will be a bait you can fish fast and mimic baitfish.
My absolute favorite bait to use around October is a spinnerbait. Spinnerbaits are great because you can fish them at multiple depths, bump into cover really well, and are an excellent baitfish imitation. I recommend the War Eagle spinnerbait as the best option.
If you are fishing a flat with cover on it – a spinnerbait is a great choice. They are perfect for covering large flats quickly and resemble shad feeding and swimming in the shallows. Spinnerbaits also bump into stumps, rocks, and other cover without getting stuck very well. You also can fish it at any depth, which if you have flats at multiple depths makes it easy to use without switching up every time you move.
I recommend a white spinnerbait with metallic blades, which you can read more about here. But any baitfish mimicking colors will work well. If you really want to provide some bulk and slow down a spinnerbait even more you can add a swimbait trailer to it. But generally I opt for just a trailer hook to ensure better hookups.
If you are fishing stained to muddy water, I would instead opt for a chatterbait. The chatterbait creates a vibration instead of a flash, which makes it best for when you want to target bass in muddy water where they can feel better than they can see.
Much like spinnerbaits, chatterbaits can be fished in a variety of depths and be bumped into most types of cover. Which is great, because if you are fishing muddy water you will likely want to be bumping into as much cover as possible as bass are likely holding very close to it.
Another benefit of the chatterbait is you can change up your trailer to mimic a variety of baitfish. If you are mimicking shad, you can use a regular white swimbait like the Bass Pro Speed Shad. Or if you want to imitate a bluegill instead because your lake doesn’t have shad, you can rig a Rage Tail Menace in green pumpkin sideways to create the bigger profile and color of a bluegill.
If the water is clear to stained, I would stick with a spinnerbait. But when it goes from stained to muddy, tie on a chatterbait and fish it similarly. Check out this article for even more information on fishing a chatterbait in fall and this article for which one you should buy.
A final great bait for October bass fishing is a square bill crankbait like the KVD 1.5 Square Bill. You can fish it quickly, bump it into some types of cover, and it’s a great imitation for bait fish.
What you are likely to notice with a squarebill is that it slightly more prone to getting stuck in debris or cover than a spinnerbait. So while you should absolutely fish flats with a squarebill, you are likely to get stuck or hung up more consistently if you are fishing any areas that are weedy or have loose debris as there are 2 open treble hooks on a squarebill that can easily get caught up.
But where a squarebill shines over a spinnerbait is if bass are just swiping at baits instead of fully committing. In fall when bass are feeding heavily they sometimes swipe at lures and don’t fully get them in their mouths at first. With the open treble hooks a squarebill is likely to catch a bass even it it only swipes at it and doesn’t fully get it in it’s mouth.
They are also sometimes a more subtle presentation that bass like over the bulk and flash of larger baits like a spinnerbait. So if you find a spinnerbait isn’t getting bites, you should change up to a squarebill and see if bass become more interested.
You now are fully equipped to go out this October and catch bass from you lake or pond. Just remember to target the areas that I noted above – flats with cover or near ditches and creek channels are my favorite places to catch bass in October. Then, remember that if you aren’t catching fish quickly to just change spots and come back later. If you’re using the baits outlined above, you can do this easily and are guaranteed to find one area with active bass that you can catch!