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Tributary Creeks Offer Best Autumn Action Now

If you ask Todd Faircloth to describe his favorite fishing memory, don't be surprised if he tells you about a big bass he caught one October afternoon along the edge of a grassbed in the back of a tributary creek. The fish weighed 11 1⁄2-pounds, and ranks as one of the largest fish the Yamaha Pro has ever caught.

"What makes the memory so special is the fact the bass was exactly where I expected it to be," recalls Faircloth. "It was textbook autumn fishing where the bass were chasing forage, and that big one hit a lipless crankbait in very shallow water."

Although bass as heavy as Faircloth's giant aren't common, autumn fishing in general often ranks as some of the year's best, because bass have migrated into tributary creeks where shad and other forage have gathered. The baitfish are feeding on plankton, and the bass are feeding on the baitfish. The bass are both active and easily accessible.

"This migration from the main lake into tributaries occurs on lakes throughout the United States," notes Faircloth, "and although the timing of the movement differs according to the region, it seems to be triggered by cooling water temperatures. On Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas where I live, bass and forage start moving into the creeks in late September, and they may remain there until early December.

"Not every bass in the lake makes this migration, but it certainly is a good time to catch a lot of quality fish."

Todd Faircloth likes this time of year. The migration from main lakes to tributaries makes bass active.
The Yamaha Pro believes the real key to enjoying this pattern hinges on finding the baitfish, so he normally begins his search in one of the lake's largest tributaries. He starts fishing about halfway back in the creek, and continues toward the very back; if he's fishing right after a rain storm, he likes to look for the area where clear water from the back of the creek meets the dingy runoff water because shad often concentrate in such places.

"You don't need to look for cover, either," adds Faircloth. "I treat stumps, laydowns, and even grassbeds as a bonus when I find them. The shad are nearly always close to the surface so you can usually see them, or you may see splashes as bass feed on them. If you're in the back of a creek and don't see any activity like this, you need to go to a different area because the fish themselves will let you know they're present.

"I have fished down featureless shorelines and caught bass on this pattern. Wide, open flats in the backs of creeks are some of my favorite areas, but creek channels, ditches, boathouses, and points are all good places to look for activity."

Faircloth prefers to use lipless crankbaits because they closely mimic the actions of baitfish, but his arsenal also includes spinnerbaits and square bill crankbaits, particularly if he is fishing around stumps and other cover. He seldom fishes deeper than five feet, but he makes long casts and retrieves the lures fast. He will bump the lures into cover if it's present, but he's really trying to cover a lot of water in a hurry.

"Cloudy days with a light breeze often seem to make the bass even more aggressive," he continues," but this pattern produces well on clear, calm days, as well, and frequently the bass will continue to be active throughout the entire day. There are days when the fish might hit a spinnerbait better than the crankbait, or places where the squarebill is more effective, but those three lures are really all you need for this type of fishing.

"Fishing the backs of tributary creeks is a well- known pattern in the autumn," concludes the Yamaha Pro, "and it is normally very dependable because the baitfish and the bass make this migration each year. It's a lot of fun, and even if you don't catch an 11 1⁄2-pounder like I did, you'll still have a lot of good memories because you'll catch so many bass."


Premium Member
11,453 Posts
I love to fish these creeks this time of year, if the shad are there, so are the fish, usually some quality fish. Great post Matt!!! :thumbup01: :clap: :clap:
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