Be a weather watcher for fall patterns

You’ve probably heard me say how future weather conditions help determine my fishing patterns.

That is probably as critical in the coming weeks leading into fall as it is any other time of the year, which is why I keep my eyes glued to the long range, local and national weather forecasts.

It’s happening in the north right now. Our trees are beginning to change colors and September weather usually triggers a transition into fall, which means our fish will soon be moving from deep to shallow.

Oddly enough, however, it’s been put on hold here in Michigan, where we’ve experienced some of the hottest days of the year. Our water temperatures have remained the highest we’ve had this summer. It’s been a very strange year with a long winter, late spring and relatively cool summer and now a hot period, but the fall transition will happen soon.

Water temperature only plays a part of what signals fall migrations. A lot of it has to do with the length of day; as days grow shorter, bass become aware that it’s time to start thinking about feeding up for the winter.

Water temperature does key the baitfish movements toward shallow water, and until it drops and the bait moves, bass will stay in their summer patterns.

But trust me; as soon as that happens, the bait will dash toward the creeks and the shallows.

My guideline is that anytime I see the early morning surface water temperature drop about 10 degrees, I know it’s game on. In Michigan, that might mean it goes from the mid-70s where it’s at now into the 60s. In Texas, it may be from the upper 80s into the 70s.

The extended forecast on the Weather Channel helps me predict when it likely will happen. If I’ve got a fishing trip coming up, I monitor what the extended forecast is for that area. Granted, the forecasts aren’t always accurate but they do give you a sense of what’s coming your way.

I don’t get concerned about a day or two fluctuation, but if I notice the night time and day time temperatures are dropping steadily, I know that fish patterns may be changing, too.

If I see cold fronts are going to blast an area, I will prepare my equipment accordingly, packing more finesse stuff. If it’s an extended hot period, I know crankbaits and jigs fished deep will be the best pattern.

But, if extended cold fronts that include northern winds and falling nighttime temperatures are in the making, I know it will drive water temperatures down. On impoundments, that sends shad away from the main lake and into the creeks. On northern lakes without shad, the cooler water pushes bluegills closer to the weed edges and flats.

The bass will be right behind them. They know shorter days means winter is around the corner. When baitfish get bunched in shallows and confined areas, the bass will be ready to eat heavily.

And if you’ve seen it coming, you will be in the right places at the right times to take advantage of it.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!