Fall fishing is Trophy TimeBy Bob Wilson - September 16, 2015
At this time of year big baits are your best choice, weather live bait or artificial baits, and you can not lose with either. I thought I would at this time touch on why fish are more active or aggressive in the fall months compared to summer months, is the weather. With air temperatures and water temperatures starting to drop,and with any luck the barometric pressure will play a big part in the art of fall fishing and trophy hunting. As with most lakes you will start to see turnover happening,with lake weeds, grass, and other flowage starting to die off, and with that starting to happen water clarity is or should be much better.
Here in the Midwest this practice will happen on almost all lakes and rivers,also you will start to see the migration of most fish species.This practice should takes place on all rivers and reservoirs,and this is or should be for any trophy fish they will in be the hunt for large baits. On the other hand the same thing does happen in the spring, as for the spawn has not occurred at this time of the year and nature dictates that all fish want big baits at both spring and fall of the year.
Some of the fish that do migrate are, Muskie, Northern Pike, Walleye, Smallmouth Bass and any other species that may be in the hunt for food and I mean big food.I have been told that all fish go on a feeding frenzy both in the spring and fall and that may be true, but I also believe that all fish will feed at this time of year in preparation for the long winter, and getting ready for the upcoming spring spawn,and with that being said the feeding frenzy happens all year long. I would start looking for water temps that are still in the mid 60 to low 50 s. and I will take advantage of this time of year and troll artificial or live baits if possible.
Now what artificial baits to use, color, size, fat baits, skinny baits what a problem I have.First take a step back and start with the baits you have in your box. I would start with Rapala #14 or # 16 husky jerk, next #9 Rapala shad raps, then I would look at my Storms 3/4 magnum hot n tots. I then will be moving on to the Cotton Cordell CD #7 magnum wally diver, and any other big bait that you see fit to use at this time of year like The Reef Runners, Berkley Frenzy, and there are also a whole host of very good artificial baits you could pick from. This year I have started using Baitmate fish attractant to give me a little edge, everything helps on the water, and who knows my trophy may come this year. I do have a number of favorites I like to use this time of year, so you should use your own judgement and pick your own best or favorite baits live or artificial that work for you at this time of year. I have one all time favorite and I will tell you it works and has always worked dynamite.
So with that all said and done, what live bait do I use, I would not use live bait under 6 ins. If you can find red tail chubs, black tail chubs and even large suckers ,these are some of the best live bait choices for me in the fall. I will also say as a side note 6-8 in alive gulp also works very well this time of year, and do not forget 4 in. ringworms most colors work well, and last but not least jigging spoons or blade baits, color is open.
With live and artificial baits picked what boat speed should I use. To start with when using crank baits, I would start at 1.5 mph and move up from there to 3.0 mph at best,then let the fish tell you the speed they want, and trust me they will do just that. Live baits best presentations that have worked for me when using minnows is the lindy rig of some type or jig, you can not go wrong with any one of the said presentations.
Depth, l would start in warmest water I can find, and at this time of year depending on what part of country you live in the warmer the water the better. I would start at under 10 ft.and if the water is warmer at 5 ft. or less start there.I would not be over no more at any one time more then 15 ft. and this is a good point of reference to start with because the bait fish will tell you where a trophy could be, as for that matter any fish that eat other fish will do the same.
Now as for air and water temps they should start to drop near the end of Oct, Nov, and early Dec. the bait fish will or should start to move into a river systems or reservoirs. If you have a river in your area I would start at inside bends, cuts. deep holes, and points,and humps. If you have a dam they always can be very productive expressly with some moving water. Last bridges hold a large number of fish all year long.First just find the best parts of any bridge, this might take a little time and a lot of hard work but the work will pay off at this time, or for that matter any time of year. Some of the best spots on any river systems, from the midwest, to the north east states, are some of the most under looked and top notch fishing areas.
Just do your homework in your own fishing areas, and who knows that next trophy could end up on your wall. With everything we talked about you should have a good fall season of trophy hunting, or weather that fish of a lifetime, or that buck of a lifetime. Have fun on the water or in the field, and be safe.