Deep or shallow, bass will bite
November in the Southeast can provide some really good bass fishing, but it can also be a tad frustrating since fish can be doing so many things. The positives are obviously that decreased fishing pressure and cooling water have the fish much more active and moving to new areas.
One of the frustrating things is the thermocline is gone in reservoirs, so bass and baitfish can now go as deep as they want with no oxygen problems. This can make some spots really good that are far deeper than most anglers are accustomed to fishing. Sometimes, that 25- to 40-foot level attracts baitfish in clearer lakes since they now have access to plankton below the depth of the former thermocline. Often, I just ignore this since fishing that deep requires so much time to find the fish.
If you like to fish that deep and are really familiar with your lake, you can use spoons, drop-shot rigs or heavy jigs to get down to the fish. Often, you can catch a lot of fish in a short period of time when fishing this way. Deep flats near points and channel swings seem to hold the most fish for this pattern.
If you are like me and just want to go out and fish for a few hours, then shallow is the way to go. There are always shallow fish to be had, and November can be one of the best times for skinny water. Just as the deep-water bass are taking advantage of baitfish seeking a new place to feed, the shallow fish are taking advantage of the repositioning of the bait as well.
Often, our lakes drop in the fall, and the water will be low. This pushes bait out of the backs of the shallow creeks and shallow weeds where they once hid. Baitfish either seek shelter in skinny water just outside of these areas or they start seeking a little deeper water in ditches within the creeks.
This movement caused by dropping and cooling water creates my favorite pattern for November: fishing shallow ditches in creeks. The fun with this pattern is there is a lot of anticipation when you go into a certain creek and get to what will be the sweet spot, often the last channel bend before the water gets too shallow or silty. Often, there is some wood there, and the wood holds the fish. These types of places hold fish all year, but they just get better as the water drops since the fish are less spread out.
The best baits for this pattern are crankbaits and creature baits. I like shallow-running baits that can get through cover, mostly in shad colors. If you have the luxury of multiple crankbait rods, rig them up with different-sized lines. The heavier the line, the shallower the crankbait tends to dive, so use maybe 17- or 20-pound test for really skinny water and 12- or 14-pound test for those 4- or 5-foot spots. My No. 1 creature bait is a 3 1/2-inch Culprit Incredicraw in either black/red flake it the water is dirty or green pumpkin/blue flake in clear water.
With these two patterns, you can be well on your way to having a great November bass season. Good luck, and always have a topwater rigged up in case a school pops up.
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