Fall transitions can sometimes be frustrating. Bass are on the move and starting to focus their foraging energy more towards shad. Depending on the weather, the bass can be in many different parts of the water column, making it difficult to find a pattern. If a lake has manmade structure, it can be one of the best areas to fish when the September weather rolls in. Bridges with pillars are one of the first places to start looking. The creek channels that run under the bridges are highways for shad, and a very consistent forage area for bass and other sunfishes. If there is rip rap along any of these bridges, this is big bonus. Low light conditions are when plankton rise to the surface to feed. This is often a great time to catch a limit quickly. A bright sunny day will put bass close to the pillars, but an overcast day can make the shad feed at the surface longer, and also creating a larger strike zone.
Boat ramps and rip rap along dams can also be productive places, depending on the wind. I always look for manmade structures that are receiving the most current. These are likely to have the most shad on them. I usually will concentrate my efforts on a dam only if the wind is blowing on it or has been a day or two before.
The last places I go to are Marinas. Boat slips, dock structures, and tires are good places to start when you enter a marina. Dependent on sunlight, I will focus on fishing lures tight to the structure or fan casting around it.
The key to all these places is the shad. Wind will determine which manmade structures on the lake will hold the most bass. Using the wind to direct you to these places is often the best way to fish in the fall transition, and all the way into full fall patterns. I have a simple selection of lures that I use on all the structures, but keep a variation of colors and styles. My 3 main baits are a spinnerbait, a crankbait, and a jig. I really focus on shad patterns and matching the hatch with my crank baits and spinner baits. This time of year the shad are often very small. Baits like a Bandit 200, a War eagle Screaming Eagle, and a Rico, are some of my favorites. If the sun is out I will often go to jigs. Stroking or swimming a jig around these structures can get put some bigger fish in your livewell. I always have a LFT ¼ oz jig in either PBJ or other bluegill patterns to drop vertically, and target the bigger fish in these areas. When the wind has pushed bait onto one of these structures for days in a row and suddenly stops and it becomes calm, a nail weighted finesse worm can be your best friend. I experiment with a shad or natural color depending on water clarity, and rig these worms wacky style on light line. This bait will often sink in a slow spiral patterns that is hard for bass to ignore. Throwing the worm tight to marina corners, slips, pillars and so on with a do nothing presentation is best. It is a slow process, but it can produce when the lake looks like glass.
If the lake has them, these manmade structures are great areas to get you through the fall transition, and can be great at other times of the year as well. Even though some of these structures may be in 40 feet of water or more, the bass are often suspended less than 10 feet. Follow the wind, match the hatch, and you might find your transition frustration relieved by manmade structure.