Fall Patterns for Big Success

By Dave Duwe - September 1, 2012
Just because it's after Labor Day, doesn't mean fishing season is over. Some of my best months to fish are September and October. The best part of fishing in fall is the huge decrease in boat traffic and anglers fighting for the same fishing spots. As the water cools, it brings the fish from the deep water main lake basin back to a more fishable depth range for the average angler. I consider a depth of less than 20 ft easier to fish.

The shorter days and cooler nights bring the suspended fish to their rocky haunts to put on the feed bag before winter. Rocks provide a perfect place to find crayfish and small bait fish. This time of year I prefer main lake points or rock bars. The best points are associated in close proximity to the main lake basin. Without a doubt the full moon phase produces the most fall fish. Windy locations seem to hold more bait fish which means more walleyes and smallmouth.

If the lake you fish contains smallmouth or walleyes rock is the key for fall success. I use two methods for fishing this time of year for smallies. One is dragging football head jigs and the other is Carolina rigging. Dragging a jig is pulling a football head jig with a spider grub along the bottom to mimic a crayfish. Use a 3/8 oz or ½ oz jig. Vary your retrieve to determine how the fish are feeding. Carolina rigging is a ½ oz bullet sinker, with a couple of glass beads, then a swivel, 18-24 inch leader with a 2/0 worm hook. This method can cover a lot of water. To mimic the crayfish I fish an Arkie Crawlin' grub in root beer or green pumpkin color.

This time of year the smallmouth bass school up on the rock so when you catch one, there will likely be more to follow.

On similar areas, walleye will also be plentiful. The technique is slightly different. Jigs are always a good bet. I use the smallest size I can get away with. You want good feel yet not a huge anchor that gets snagged in the rocks every cast. If the water is deep enough I like to fish the jig vertical from bottom, this will also eliminate a lot of snags. Because the water is cooler, walleyes are feeding on minnows again instead of worms and leeches. If the area is really "snaggy" I will tie on a Thill slip- bobber rig. The slip-bobber rig consists of a slip- bobber knot, a bobber and enough weight to get the line to slide through the bobber and a hook or small jig. To get the proper depth, use an ice fishing depth weight to find bottom and position the bait 6-12 inches off bottom. Again, I would tip the slip bobber rig with a minnow.

The last presentation I use for rock walleyes is a crankbait. Use a stick type bait like a Smithwick Rattlin' Rogue or a Bomber Long A. Perch patterns or the chrome/blue or chrome/black always catch fish. The fish are aggressive and will move long distances to strike. When fishing crankbaits I prefer a baitcaster reel spooled with a 10 lb Silver Thread line paired with a 7 ft medium action pole. The longer pole aids in longer casts and the lighter line creates more action with the crankbaits.

I find that the best time to fish is at night when using crankbaits. One thing to consider about nighttime fishing is the outdoor temperature. It can get quite cold so make sure you dress accordingly.

Fall is known as the time for trophy fishing. I usually catch some of my biggest fish of the year in September and October. Don't be afraid of the cooler weather since the fishing will be hot!

Author Dave Duwe
Dave Duwe
Full-time guide Dave Duwe owns and operates Dave Duwe's Guide Service, featuring the lakes of Walworth County, WI. Dave has been guiding for over 20 years and is one of Southeastern Wisconsin's best multi-species anglers. Dave is an accomplished outdoor writer and seminar speaker. He is a member of the Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Association and Walworth County Visitor Bureau. Sponsors include: Lund Boats(Jerry's Sport Service Inc.), Mercury Marine, Arkie Jigs, and Vexilar Marine Electronics, a pro-staff member of Minn-Kota trolling motors,Hummingbird graphs, Cannon downriggers, Lindy, Pure Fishing and All Terrain Tackle. For more information, please check out Dave's website www.fishlakegeneva.com .