Gill Fishing pro angler Fred Roumbanis explains how he catches big bass in the fall.
During the Major League Fishing offseason in the fall, Gill Fishing pro angler Fred Roumbanis still catches big numbers of bass on Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas by throwing topwater baits around schools of shad in shallow water.
Fred “Boom Boom” Roumbanis, a Major League Fishing angler who has won more than $1.5 million in his career, never stops bass fishing. He can catch hogs in the dead of winter, win tournaments during the spawn, and put fish in the boat during the dog days of summer. When asked to pick the best fishing of the year, he doesn’t hesitate to answer: “Fall. It’s my favorite time of year.”
His answer is rooted in bass biology. Bass go through the doldrums in the summer, with high water temperatures stunning them into lethargy and melting away their weight. But when the first cold front of fall arrives, the cooling water temperatures kickstart their metabolism and trigger an instinctual frenzy to put on weight before winter.
This food-first mentality, combined with the abundance of shad and other bait in shallow water, creates fantastic fishing opportunities in large lakes across the country. If you’re craving some action-packed fishing after a long and slow summer, Roumbanis suggests grabbing your favorite topwater lures and looking for bait schools.
“Top water fishing turns on during the fall,” says Roumbanis, who spends his fall offseason fishing Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas with his son, Jackson. “I’m out there throwing a frog. Spinnerbaits, shallow square-bill crank baits, whopper floppers, buzz baits, topwater plugs, anything that will mimic a shad in shallow water will work. You can still catch them on jigs, but it’s not as fun. This is a time to have fun, especially with less boats on the water.”
While fall fishing can produce thrilling topwater explosions and fish on every cast, Roumbanis will sometimes locate large schools of shad surrounded by bass that aren’t actively feeding or striking. Resist the urge to run-and-gun after a few unresponsive casts. This isn’t the time to leave fish to find fish, because a major feed can begin at any moment. Instead, anglers should locate bait schools and thoroughly fish the area, even if it requires some patience.
“They’ll be with the bait for a while, and then something will trigger them into a frenzy. The biggest thing is getting around the bait, and then waiting it out,” Roumbanis says.
Water temperatures in the summer can reach the upper 80s, and Roumbanis says the water will need to cool to around the mid-70s before bass will strap on the feed bag. He said the fishing will stay hot until water temperatures reach the upper-to-mid 50s. “At that point, they’ll get a little dormant, and your strike zone will narrow into deeper parts of the water column,” Roumbanis says.