It’s one of the clearest cases of give and take that bass fishing has to offer. The fall drawdown: that period when lake authorities from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the TVA drop water levels to “winter pool.”

Generally meant to facilitate maintenance, drawdowns also benefit anglers in terms of reducing depths around much of the shallow cover. It stands to reason, that when a lot of those logs, laydowns and boulders become too shallow to support fish, the ones standing in deeper water—deep enough to harbor fish—will become increasingly popular.

Bassmaster Elite Serie pro Keith Combs said that, when a drained bank shows the majority of its cover standing high and dry, any remaining cover holds magnetic attraction for fish patrolling the shallows.

On the other hand, declining water might bring things that go bump dangerously close to the surface. Logs with a yardstick of water over top last month might soon sit just inches from the cooling autumn breezes.


“The biggest thing in the fall is that if you’re not familiar with the lake, you need to be careful navigating it,” said Jason Christie, an Elite pro from Oklahoma. “Stay within the (navigational markers) and if there are no buoys, just use common sense and go slow.

“A lot of times, when they draw down a lake, this starts to expose some hazards. That can be a good thing, if you can avoid them. If you can ease up on them, you could find a potential honey hole for fish.”

Top baits for the drawdown include spinnerbaits, squarebills, and flipping baits like your jigs and Texas-rigged plastics for the shallow cover. When the declining water has the fish roaming shallow bays shoreline coves, Louisiana Elite pro Greg Hackney throws a topwater and backs it up with an unweighted fluke style bait.

As you poke around the shallows during a drawdown, stay alert, pay attention to your depth and mark any new spots for return trips when spring raises the water level back to normal.