Fall-season bass fishing might change from year to year, in the fact that some years you can be fishing your favorite lake or river in shorts and a T-shirt in November, while other years you might be breaking a thin layer of ice to get your boat out on the water. Regardless of the year, there is one form of cover that holds bass this time of year and that is laydowns.
As leaves begin to change colors, the bodies of water we fish change as well. The majority of vegetation we had to fish all summer will be dead and boat docks are pulled for the winter. Bass will move to the last remaining cover that’s available, which is usually laydowns.
Some lakes or rivers have more laydowns than others, but they will all hold bass … and oftentimes more than one. Finding the key laydowns is vital, as many times the best laydowns will have a school of bass on them, feeding heavily for the long winter ahead.
Productive laydowns are commonly located near deeper water, as the pockets of deep water might be the bass’ wintering hole, or just an area they can move to should a major fall cold front push through. I like to take a look at my LakeMaster mapping chip to identify possible areas where deeper water butts up to shore, and then idle those areas confirming the water depth with my Humminbird and scoping out the shoreline for wood.
On a river system such as the Mississippi, a key laydown will often be situated between current and backwater lakes, where bass are transitioning to the backwaters for winter. Many times a good series of laydowns will aid in slowing down the current, giving bass a perfect ambush spot to grab a quick meal.
HOW TO FISH LAYDOWNS
When I find a good laydown, I want to work that piece of cover as thoroughly as possible, so I’ll slowly approach the target using my trolling motor and then deploy my Minn Kota Talons. This will keep me from blowing into or away from the cover, and it allows me to focus on covering every inch of that laydown.
Your first few casts should target the outer edges of the wood, as you don’t want to disturb the inner most area of the laydown initially. To work the outer edges, I will start with reaction lures to grab any active bass. A single Colorado-bladed spinnerbait and square-billed crankbait get the nod here, because they allow me to cover water quickly.
As the temperature drops, bass will move to laydowns for a sense of stability.
Because I’m fishing shallow water and want some stretch in my line, I’ll spool up my Wright & McGill Victory Pro Carbon reel with 15-pound Seaguar Senshi mono; this will keep my square-billed crankbait from getting hung up and help keep a bass hooked as it surges to deeper water when it’s hooked.
Once I pick off the active fish with these lures, I’ll slow down and pitch of a jig or Texas-rigged soft plastic around the perimeter of the laydown. Being that the cover on the edge isn’t as thick as the middle of the laydown, I’ll use a 1/4-, 5/16- or 3/8-ounce weight, depending on the wind and water depth. As I begin to flip deeper and deeper into the cover, I’ll up my weight so I’m sure the bait gets below the surface and into all the nooks of the tree. Many times, a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce weight is what I’ll use.
One area you want to make sure you work several times is right where the laydown meets the shore, as many times there might be a deeper hole here, rock on the shoreline, or some dead vegetation that has blown in.
TACKLE FOR FISHING LAYDOWNS
A heavy-action flipping rod and tough line is needed when flipping into heavy cover, to hook those bass and then get them into the boat. I rely on a Wright & McGill 7-foot, 4-inch Victory Pro Carbon rod and 20-pound Seaguar TATSU Fluorocarbon line when the water is clearer on lakes, or 65-pound Seaguar Smackdown braided line when I’m fishing the stained river.
The author’s go-to laydown jig fishing setup: a Wright & McGill Victory Pro Carbon rod and reel, Seaguar Fluorocarbon line, and a War Eagle Jig and Zoom Trailer.
I’ll Texas-rig a variety of soft plastics on a 4/0 TroKar TK130 Flippin’ hook, such as Zoom Z-Hogs or Super Hogs, when the water is clearer. Super Speed Craws get tied on when the water is stained. For a jig, I like a 1/2-ounce War Eagle Flipping jig with a Zoom Super Chunk as a trailer.
A trolling motor and shallow-water anchors are extremely helpful tools for effectively fishing laydowns.
Keeping your color section simple is important in not weighing your boat down with excessive plastics, so having a handful of different natural green pumpkin baits with varying flakes in them and the standard black/blue is all you’ll need.
With the fishing season for bass getting shorter and shorter each and every day this fall, be ready to hit your favorite body of water to target some late-season bass on laydowns!