Fall is a fantastic time to fish in many of Ontario’s rivers, especially the French River Delta. You don’t have to be a professional to catch trophy Largemouth Bass at this time of year!
For over 30 years, we’ve witnessed many guests catch bigger bass on the French River, especially during our shoulder seasons.
Below are five simple tips for Ontario fall river bass fishing:
Fall fishing in Ontario usually lasts from late August to October. You can split the fall season into three sub-seasons:
As the days cool, this affects the fish’s habitats and feeding zones.
During the early fall, fishing will be similar to summer fishing as the waters remain warm. But, Largemouth will begin binge feeding for winter as daylight hours become shorter. Thus, they are more likely to strike at various presentations.
Weeds will slowly die off and force baitfish and bass to move to other healthier weedbeds or structures.
Largemouth are unique from Smallmouth in connection with their migration patterns. Smallmouth hunt in open deeper water and migrate in a vertical school in the fall. Largemouth tend to spread out in a horizontal school.
Understand, both species of bass will follow baitfish.
This means Largemouth gradually move deeper with weed cover as sections of weeds die off. At certain points in the fall, it is possible to even jig weed edges for them. Once the weeds are no longer habitable, Largemouth will move to rock piles and points.
Rock piles and points are a favourite location for largemouth in the fall. They will even find deadfall and structures like beaver huts, logs, docks, shoals, etc. for cover.
Largemouth Bass hunt for crayfish, perch and other baitfish in the fall. These prey seek warmth and shelter. Rock structures tend to hold warmth making it an exceptional place to feed and find the next trophy largemouth.
Fall brings dropping water temperature changes and fishing action also tends to slow down. The key to fall fishing for your next French River Largemouth trophy is slowing your retrieve. No longer are Largemouth as aggressive as they were in the heat of the summer. But, fall patterns mean slower retrieves. Another key factor is to keep your rod tip down during your retrieval. Let the lure flutter and drop to entice your next catch.
Your lure choices should vary depending on weather and light conditions. Largemouth will seek areas that give them an advantage over their prey. Look for shadowy areas. Other places are edges of current and near windswept shorelines trapping weaker baitfish.
When fishing shallow water, find baitfish feeding on the surface. Top water fishing is a quick way to cover large areas. Crayfish jigs and frogs are also good choices for fishing weed beds.
In mid-depth and when deep water bass fishing use: crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jerkbaits to quickly cover weedlines. Once water temperatures fall below 50°F (10°C) switch to jigging and live baits. Live baits include nightcrawlers and minnows.
Bass are cold-blooded creatures and will slow down in the fall. Remember, Largemouth hunt for crayfish, perch and other baitfish seeking warmth and shelter. Slowing your retrieve is the key to fall fishing for your next trophy: French River Largemouth Bass. Largemouth are not as aggressive as they were in the heat of the summer. But your three sub-season fall patterns mean slower retrieves.
Article by: Joe Barefoot, M.B. – Published Outdoor Writer and Photographer with over 15 years of experience in the outdoor tourism industry.