By Lee McClellan
Many anglers think the first cool winds of early fall spur largemouth bass to move from their deep summer haunts and shove their noses practically on the bank.
They fish too shallow too early and wind up frustrated. Those bright, glistening days of early fall that send people to the lake by the droves are actually some of the toughest days of the year to catch largemouth bass.
With nightfall coming just after work, now is the best time of autumn to chase largemouth bass, especially on our smaller, state owned lakes. The first of November through early December is a highly productive and misunderstood time for largemouth bass fishing.
Largemouth bass are following baitfish into the back of coves and feeding heavily, especially female largemouth bass that tend to run larger than their male counterparts. Female largemouth bass in fall already have about three percent of their body weight in eggs for the spawn next spring.
The lakes in Kentucky smaller than 1,000 acres are easier to manage angling-wise. They receive considerable fishing pressure during the warm months. November is a different story.
Deer hunting, football and other fall activities often leave these lakes devoid of anglers in November. You don’t need an expensive boat to fish these waters, either. They are perfect for johnboats, canoes, kayaks, personal pontoon boats and bank fishing.
Workers with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife placed fish habitat
in 328-acre Guist Creek Lake in Shelby County over the past several years. Visit the Find a Place to Fish
page on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife homepage at fw.ky.gov and click on Guist Creek Lake to view a map of these habitat structures. They should hold largemouth bass in fall on Guist Creek.
The 2019 Largemouth Bass Fishing Quality Assessment showed more 20-inch or longer largemouth bass in the lake since 2000 and the numbers of largemouths more than 15 inches long well above average. The Fisheries Division’s annual Fishing Forecast
gave the largemouth bass in Guist Creek Lake a “good/excellent” rating for 2020.
Lincoln County’s Cedar Creek Lake, the only lake in the state with trophy largemouth bass regulations of a 1-fish daily creel limit and 20-inch minimum size limit, is extremely popular with bass anglers. Consequently, Cedar Creek receives a lot of fishing pressure on its 784 acres in the warmer months.
In November, the lake is relatively abandoned. Try fishing ¼-ounce jigs in green pumpkin mixed with shades of brown and orange in the abundant woody cover near deep water on Cedar Creek. Burning lipless crankbaits or spinnerbaits across the flats near the submerged railway in the upper lake also works well in November.
Population sampling conducted by biologists on Cedar Creek revealed strong largemouth bass reproduction over the past several years with a good density of fish longer than 15 inches and strong trophy potential.
Elmer Davis Lake spreads across 149 acres in Owen County and has bountiful numbers of largemouth bass over 12 inches with increasing numbers over 15 inches, earning an “excellent” rating for largemouth bass in the 2020 Fishing Forecast. Fisheries crews placed extensive fish habitat
in the lake over the past few years. Bass anglers should probe these structures with 3/16-ounce black and blue jigs in fall. Shad-colored medium-depth crankbaits or white spinnerbaits also draw strikes when worked across points or over flats.
Bullock Pen Lake in Grant County is just 134 acres; but has many 3- to 4-pound largemouth bass. Target the woody structure in the lake with black and chartreuse or brown and orange jigs.
The 88-acre Benjy Kinman Lake in Henry County holds a stable population of largemouth bass, but has good trophy potential with fish available longer than 20 inches. You will likely have the lake to yourself on a weekday in November.
Although Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake receive the lion’s share of attention concerning bass fishing in western Kentucky, 760-acre Lake Beshear in Caldwell and Christian counties may have the best largemouth bass population of the three.
The lake holds many quality largemouth bass with a burgeoning population of fish more than 15 inches. Fish 1/4-ounce peanut butter and jelly colored jigs on rocky points in the lower lake for Lake Beshear largemouths in fall.
Two lakes with the name of Mill Creek offer productive largemouth bass fishing in fall. One is located in southern Kentucky’s Monroe County and holds an expanding population of 18-inch and longer largemouth bass in its 109 acres.
The other is 41 acres in Powell and Wolfe counties surrounded by Natural Bridge State Resort Park. This clear lake holds excellent numbers of fat largemouth bass longer than 20-inches. Target the back and far side of the lake away from the boat ramp for better largemouth bass. A 4-inch black finesse worm rigged on 1/8-ounce head fished on 6-pound fluorocarbon line work well on this lake. Stealth is vitally important on an ultra-clear lake like this one. November is a productive month on mountain lakes such as Mill Creek.
November is here. It’s time to fish small lakes for largemouth bass.