Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Time for Big Fall Smallmouths--But Gear Up!

With summer over and cooler temps finally in the forecast, now is the time to start talking fall bass patterns. That said, we gave B.A.S.S. Elite WHITEWATER pro, Jay Przekurat, a call. He’s always a wealth of green fish information. The youngest pro bass angler to ever win a B.A.S.S. Elite event, 23-year-old Wisconsin-based Jay Przekurat took home top honors in 2022 with the heaviest bag of smallmouths ever weighed in a B.A.S.S. event.

The Fall River Bass Bite

“Come fall and the rivers start cooling off, typically marked by a few rainfalls and colder nights. It’s during this time that I like to say rivers ‘turnover’. The fish just start biting. They get into an active mood because they know winter is coming,” says the young Przekurat.

“To prep for fall I get all my moving baits organized: topwaters, swim jigs, crankbaits, A-rigs—basically any moving, reaction-bite based bait. On rivers, late summer through winter is the best time to be on the water because fish know winter is coming and they put on the feedbag.”

Besides moving baits that rock the upper two-thirds of the water column, Przekurat also makes sure he has plenty of baits to work bottom. As the water gets progressively colder, bass key into bottom-dwelling forage, so you can find Jay slinging a lot of Texas Rigged soft plastics and tubes, too.

“On rivers, bass will focus on baitfish earlier in the fall and then transition to feeding on crawfish and other bottom critters. They get lazier as the water gets colder. That’s when I switch over from cranks, swim jigs, and all that to Texas Rigs and tubes,” notes Przekurat.

Fish-Holding River Structure: Fall

“The main deal is rock, but sand and wood holds a lot of bass, too. Current seams, obviously. And more than rock, which gets hit hard by lots of anglers, I like to find wood and sand. Bass will group up on sand, especially if there’s a current break around that’s holding food. Ideally, I want to find that straight riverbank with sand and wood. And that’s more so with smallies. You can find largies all the way from the creek mouths to the vary backs of the creek arms. I’m constantly looking for green vegetaition, like eelgrass and milfoil, wood, all that visual stuff. So, I’m generally flipping isolated cover for largemouths, whether it’s with a Texas Rig or swimming a jig.”

In terms of specific locations, Jay spent his youth exploring the Wolf River and Mississippi River systems.

“I really like Mississippi Pools 5, 5A, 7, and 9 for fishing river largemouths. 7 is probably the best for numbers, but you can put together a 20-pound bag together there, too.

Fall Bass on Reservoirs

Przekurat says a lot of anglers fish too shallow on reservoirs in autumn.

“Look for fish grouping up offshore. You can find some largemouths shallow but the smallies especially will generally stay a little bit deeper.”

That’s when Jay pulls out Alabama rigs, swimbaits, and tubes. Basically, you’re going to break out the tackle you used in the spring. Moving baits are key to catching fall bass in reservoirs, just like in rivers. Fish are starting to get active and starting to feed. Spinnerbaits and ChatterBaits can produce, too. And you’d be surprised, fall bass will rise to eat topwater plugs and buzzbaits, too, even if the water temps are in the high-50s to lower 60s.”

Natural Lakes in Autumn

For the most part, bass will return shallow in fall. They won’t be as shallow as they are on rivers, but you’ll still find ‘em in some skinny water. Investigate bays, docks, etc.

“So, I’m fishing fall bass in natural lakes shallow. Remember, bass are bluegill eaters, so they’re cruising around remaining green weeds and isolated structure looking for food. I’ll keep an eye out for good, green grass all the way up to ice up in the north”

Jay’s 3 Must-Have Bass Set-Ups

1) Texas Rig Rod & Reel: “I use a 7’3” Lew’s Pro rod paired with a Lew’s Custom baitcasting reel and 30- to 50-pound braid. And I’ll fish anything from a ¼- to ½-ounce bullet weight depending on the situation. 99% of the time I have a Rage Bug tied on in one or two colors. I like a blue craw, but often switch to black and blue if the water is dirty. I keep it simple.”

2) Alabama Rig Rod & Reel:

“I like rolling A-rigs slow and deep along bottom in fall, something most guys don’t do. I use a 7’11” Lew’s baitcasting rod, a 5.2:1 low gear ratio Lew’s baitcaster, and heavier fluorocarbon to keep the bait deeper and invisible. In terms of baits, I like the Strike King Tour Grade Bladed Titanium Umbrella A-Rig rigged with 1/8-ounce jig heads threaded with Strike King Rage Swimmers. I’ll use 3.25” plastics on the inner arms and 3.75” on the jig arm in the back, sticking to standard shad colors, nothing crazy.”

3) Swim Jig Rod & Reel: “I fish swim jigs on a 7’3” Lew’s medium-heavy power baitcasting rod paired with a Lew’s Custom Pro Reel spooled with 15- to 17-pound fluorocarbon. In terms of jig weight, it’s usually a ¼- to 5/16-ounce Strike King Tour Grade swim jig threaded with a Striking Menace, which is my favorite trailer. In terms of color, I’m throwing white or green pumpkin; occasionally black and blue if the water has lots of stain to it. But falls bass are eating baitfish, bluegills, or crawfish, so green pumpkin and white pretty much covers all the bases.”

Dressing For Cold Conditions

Fall fishing weather—whether you’re chasing bass like Jay, river walleyes, steelhead or salmon, or other species—can be completely unpredictable with frequent snow, rain, sleet, and wind—as well as sub-freezing temps.

Along those lines, we asked Jay what he’ll be wearing to keep his mind on fishing—and not how to stay warm and dry—at the upcoming Classic on the Tennessee River.

“I’m going to have everything on. I’ll be wearing the WHITEWATER Softshell Tamer Jacket and Bib on when it’s not raining and the heavy-duty, water-repellant WHITEWATER Buoy Fishing Hoodie on underneath that. I love the Tamer jacket and bib. You can throw it on, and it doesn’t even feel like you’re wearing bibs. And it keeps you warm all day,” remarks Przekurat.

He continues: “When it’s raining, I’ll have the WHITEWATER Great Lakes Jacket and Bib on, so it’s going to be a back-and-forth between that and the Tamer. I’ll definitely have the hoodie on 100% of the time because it doesn’t look like it’s going to crack 60-degrees up until tournament day and even then, the morning is projected to be 40-degrees.”

WHITEWATER Tamer Softshell Jacket

Windproof breathable softshell polyester stretch fabric
DWR treated to repel moisture
3-piece hood adjustable for fit
Sleeve, chest & back shoulder reflective tape for visibility
Two sewn-in D-rings (lower ring for safety cord, upper ring for trolling motor and shallow water anchor fobs)
Two waist pockets & a welded chest pocket to keep gear dry
Sleeve insert with a built-in thumbhole opening for security
Jacket comes in Grayish “Shade” w/black accents (270)

MSRP: $219.99 (SM-3XL)

WHITEWATER Tamer Fishing Bib

Windproof breathable softshell polyester stretch fabric
DWR treated to repel moisture
Multiple reflective tape placements for visibility
Two sewn-in D-rings (lower ring for safety cord, upper ring for trolling motor and shallow water anchor fobs)
Three pockets (2 cargo, 1 chest) to keep gear dry
Covered leg zippers for easy dressing over boots
Adjustable silicone suspenders with grip
Bib comes in black “Charcoal”

MSRP: $219.99 (SM-3XL)

WHITEWATER Buoy Fishing Hoodie

Comfortable, durable cotton/poly blend
DWR treated to repel moisture
Adjustable shock cord & locks for hood adjustments
Front & back shoulder reflective tape for visibility
Zip closure kangaroo pouch pocket
Rig knit cuff and waist for a secure fit
Hoodie comes in black “Charcoal”; Breaker Blue; and Buoy Red

MSRP: $99.99 (SM-3XL)

WHITEWATER Great Lakes Jacket

Waterproof/windproof 20k/20k lamination & heat-taped seams to keep you dry
Durable mini-ripstop 4-way stretch nylon with a polyester lining
3-piece hood with multiple adjustment points
Multiple reflective tape placements for visibility
Sewn-in D-ring for a safety cord
Four storage pockets (2 waist, 2 chest) with covered openings
Two handwarmer pockets with YKK® AquaGuard® waterproof zippers
Hook and loop cuff adjustments for a secure fit
Jacket comes in: Buoy Red w/black accents (273); Grayish “Shade” w/black accents (270); and all-black “Charcoal” (099)

MSRP: $269.99 (SM-3X)

WHITEWATER Great Lakes Bib

Waterproof/windproof 20k/20k lamination & heat-taped seams to keep you dry
Durable mini-ripstop 4-way stretch nylon with a polyester lining
Multiple reflective tape placements for visibility
Two sewn-in D-rings (lower ring for safety cord, upper ring for trolling motor/shallow-water anchor remote fobs)
Dual Velcro® waist adjustments
Three pockets (2 cargo, 2 chest) to keep gear dry
Two handwarmer pockets with YKK® AquaGuard® waterproof zippers
Leg zippers with storm flats and snap closures to keep feet ankles/feet dry
Adjustable suspenders with silicone grip to stay in place
Bib comes in: all-gray “Shade” (270); and all-black “Charcoal” (099)

MSRP: $269.99 (SM-3X)

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Whitewater performance fishing apparel gives anglers distinct advantages whenever Mother Nature’s unpredictability conspires to ruin angling adventures. Whether faced with wind, rain, snow, sun, or extreme temperatures, Whitewater apparel equips anglers with the ability and confidence to overcome the elements, so they apply their focus and energies on fighting fish, not the conditions. Whitewater is a brand by Nexus Outdoors, headquartered in Muskegon, Michigan, USA. Learn more and order at