Northern states are littered with small, natural lakes. Southern states are dotted with farm ponds to which some similar patterns apply. Most patterns that you read in bass fishing magazines are really only effective on Southern reservoirs. Shad are usually non-present in these small bodies, and fish movement is different than in giant river systems.
So, what do you look for in a small, bowl shaped lake in the fall? When the water temperature starts edging into the upper 50 range, fish will kick into survival mode. My first job when I get to the water is to check water temperature and wind, as these can give vital clues to where you may catch fish and what may be a solid pattern for the day. Only after checking conditions will I pick up one of the 4 rods that are on deck. A spinner bait, Red Eye Shad, jig and drop-shot are always tied on this time of year. These four baits will cover almost any condition and rarely will they not work.
A good starting place is any wooded bank where wind is blowing adjacently, which will activate movement of fall forage like bluegill and crawfish. If the wind is blowing, start with the spinner bait, if it is calm, toss the Red Eye. If these fail to yield, the jig and drop-shot are there to finesse the fish if bites are tough. As far as colors go, I keep it simple: my spinnerbaits are chartreuse and white or pure white with double willow blades. The rattle baits are sexy sunfish or sexy blueback herring. Jigs depend on the water clarity, dark colors in dirty water and natural, pumpkin or brown in clear water. I use Kustom Kicker jigs with scads of different trailers, all that are used for differing conditions; more action in the trailer for active fish and a simple trailer like a chunk for colder water or tougher conditions.
Remember, this is the time of year where bites may be fewer, but if you focus on key areas like wood, weed lines, reeds and rock, you will be pleased with the results you see. It’s all about confidence in what you are doing and confidence in yourself.