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FALL DRAWDOWN OPPORTUNITIES

It’s the fall version of spring cleaning — the annual drawdown, where reservoir managers release water and intentionally lower the lake level to make room for the influx that always comes with winter-spring rains and snowmelt.

It’s definitely a time of change, but for optimistic and observant anglers, drawdowns bring as much opportunity as they do challenge.

Consider these predictable points.

Out of Bounds: There’s no denying the fact that drawdowns take a lot of promising structure out of play. Those shorter laydowns and shallow rocks may be drying in the sun, while the longer trees might have fishable water only at the outer ends.

Concentrated Opportunities: The flipside of the drawdown’s limiting impact is that the same number of fish remain. That means any shoreline structure remaining at least partially submerged will almost certainly hold fish.

All In the Angles: When the water drops on a flatter bank, the waterline recedes dramatically and leaves nearly all of the shallow cover exposed. However, pockets with steeper banks see less of a waterline pull back, even when the overall water level decreases. This means you’ll have more of those laydowns, logs and shoreline vegetation remaining in play.

Recon: Across the board, fall drawdowns reveal bottom features that you can use to your advantage when the water level returns. Maybe it’s an isolated rock, a little ditch or hole, an overlooked drain pipe or scattered gravel or shell bottom. Whatever the case may be, take note, drop waypoints and then return a few months down the road to exploit these fish attractors.

Weather Matters: If any significant rain raises the water level, expect a shallow movement, as fish utilize newly available cover to ambush baitfish. Also, rainwater runoff typically muddies the backs of creeks where fall bass often venture. Decreased visibility shrinks the strike zone, so plan accordingly.

Find the Forage: In the typical fall drawdown scenario, your best bet is to locate bait schools following creek channels and focus on areas such as channel swings, points, deeper docks and anything that might pause or redirect the forage. These are areas where bass instinctively position for feeding advantage.

Feathered Friends: Anglers aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the shrunken playing field. Shore birds standing on the bank, and particularly on little points clearly indicate baitfish. Bass won’t miss these concentrations, so focus your efforts accordingly.

Productive Presentations: The same rules of normal pool bait selection generally apply to winter pool, with a couple of caveats. First, falling water keeps fish unsettled, but once the water stabilizes, they adjust and get back to the business of feeding up for winter. Also, cold fronts will impact the bite with accelerated feeding on the windy low-pressure approach and then decreased activity during the clear, high pressure of the post-frontal period.

Day to day, you’ll do well by covering water with your favorite crankbait, jerkbait or topwater walking bait. Whatever your choice, retrofitting the bait with Mustad KVD Elite Round Bend Treble Hooks.

If you find shallow cover remaining in sufficient depth, pepper the area with a LIVETARGET HOLLOW BODY FROG and flip it with a creature bait or stick worm, Texas rigged on a Mustad Grip Pin Flippin’ Hook.

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