Early Fall Patterns
The early fall season will not differ greatly from summer for river smallmouth bass except that their numbers in the shallows may actually increase. As more baitfish develop and move into shallow water, the smallmouth will follow them. Smallmouth at this time will frequent areas where smaller brooks and streams empty into a river and in the submerged grassy weeds that exist on the bottom. The angler should target those places in a river where she can see that the bottom is rocky and contains gravel and timber. Smallmouths prefer this type of bottom as it holds one of their favorite meals---the crayfish.
In the River
Before water temperatures drop, a fall smallmouth angler should wade into a shallow river or stream. Wait for a warm fall day in September or October and try to stay in the middle of the river. This strategy allows you to fish to both sides depending on the width of the river. With the sun overhead, shady spots will exist on either side, and the closer to a riverbank you can cast, the better the chances of a smallmouth hitting the lure. During this time, smallmouth will be in their hungry mode as they prepare for the winter months on the horizon. A piece of a night crawler on a No. 6 hook is more than sufficient to provoke a bite. The angler should cast to logs along the shoreline, underneath overhanging trees, and near any large rocks and boulders in the water.
In the later stages of autumn, the typical rains that occur can cause the water in a river or lake to rise and become less than clear. The spinnerbait is a perfect choice to catch smallmouth when these conditions exist. The type of blades that create the most vibrations in off-colored water are the larger Colorado and Oklahoma types. Spinnerbaits cast near anything that sticks out of the water and forms a current break, such as a boulder or downed tree, can yield a strike. A spinnerbait that stops near the branches of a fallen tree will flutter downwards. This motion can result in a large smallmouth venturing out of its hiding place to grab the lure, in which case you must do your best to steer it clear of the branches.