Depending on where you live, there is a good chance your favorite lake is turning over. The water temp is dropping, plants are dying and turning the water a greenish brown, dead leaves are covering the surface, and, well, the whole process can make catching bass a real chore. But turnover is by no means a reason to wrap the boat and call it a season. There are two pretty solid strategies for success this time of year. You either find a way to make the fish in that green-brown, leaf-covered soup bite, or you do your best to avoid it. In either case, you have to learn to deal with it instead of letting the conditions keep you off the water.
Even though they’re not technically a part of lake turnover, my most hated obstacle this time of year is floating leaves. They can botch up at least one out of every three good casts. The same goes for the green and brown film that gets corralled in pockets and on the banks. This slime reduces light penetration for the bass, and makes it extremely difficult for an angler to see key structure in shallow water. Therefore, on the avoidance side of the strategies, choosing a destination that’s not as susceptible to these issues is one option. Places like large, deep reservoirs and fast-flowing rivers have less tendency to allow leaves and a film to gather in key areas. Of course, moving from lake X to lake or river Y is not always an option. If you are forced to deal with the conditions on your normal lake, sometimes you can actually make them play in your favor.
One thing you can do is upsize your baits, get shallow, and move around. I’ve found that the clarity changes in the turnover period put a lot of bass super-shallow, and it often lowers their IQ. Places that under normal conditions would require a finesse presentation with precision casting now let you get away with big, loud lures. Whenever possible, find rocks and manmade hard structure like concrete pilings or bulkheads. These types of structure warm faster in the sun and hold more heat. Even if the area they’re in is covered in that nasty slime, warmer water is often more important to bass this time of year than water clarity.
In terms of floating leaves and dead plants, always remember that whatever floats in can also float away. This means paying attention to dominate wind directions. If you reach one spot and it looks like someone raked their yard and dumped their leave pile there, figure out which way the wind is blowing, point your boat right into it and head for the nearest shoreline. It may not be your preferred shoreline, but there’s a good chance it’ll be cleaner, allowing for more quality presentations.