The Fishing and Marine Industry Daily News Feed

Fall’s Big Fish

By Bob Jensen

Autumn is in the air.  The geese are honking and the leaves are changing to brighter colors.  And trophy anglers are getting excited.  They know that the fall months offer several good reasons to go fishing.  Fall fishing offers variety, solitude, and spectacular landscapes.  Fall also offers different types of fishing opportunities.  You can chase lots of fish of average size, or you can focus on catching a truly big fish.  If we decide that we want to catch big fish we will fish differently than if we just want to get bit.

Perhaps the most important consideration when a big fish is the goal is choosing a body of water.  Some lakes are big fish lakes, others are numbers waters.  If you want to concentrate on catching a really big one, you need to be on water that has a history of producing big ones.  Trophy walleyes, northern pike, and muskies typically come from bodies of water that are deep and clear and have oily baitfish like smelt or tullibee that make the fish that eat them grow big.

Bodies of water that grow big largemouth bass often have a good amount of shallow water cover, which is where the larger fish spend the summer.  As that shallow water vegetation thins in the fall, the big guys gather on the edges of the vegetation or along drop-offs and are very vulnerable to anglers.

Keep in mind that in the fall, fish want to eat.  If you can find the fish you can expect them to eat at sometime during the day(or night).  If you see what you believe are walleyes on deeper structure, drop a bait to them.  If they don’t eat within a few minutes, look for another school and see if they’ll eat.  But remember to try that earlier school later in the day.  Keep revisiting them, because eventually they’ll take your bait.

This is where sonar and GPS become so valuable.  If your sonar shows fish on structure, try to catch them.  But if they don’t bite, we “remember” the spot on the GPS.  That spot is saved for a return trip in an hour or two.  By saving the spot with GPS, we can come right back to where the fish were.  They may have moved a little, but they’ll usually still be in the area.  If they’ve moved shallower, they’re more likely to bite.

If you’re set on catching a true trophy, go with big baits.  A year or two back we were trolling Salmo Sting and Perch crankbaits for northern pike on a lake that had a history of producing lunker pike.  These are bigger baits than most would think for walleyes, but on this day, the walleyes liked them better than the northern pike did.  My best fall walleyes have all been fooled with big crankbaits, and my biggest largemouth bass were caught with spinnerbaits with larger than ordinary blades or rubber legged jigs with bulky plastics. A Hack Attack Fluoro jig with a Rage Craw is the combo that lots of bass chasers tie on in the autumn.

Autumn can provide a great fishing experience.  Nice weather days in the fall seem nicer than nice weather days in the other seasons, although a nice spring day can rival a nice fall day.  The shoreline colors can be memorable, and so can the fishing.  Make some fall fishing memories of your own in the next few weeks.

Keep your finger on the fishing industry pulse

The Definititive News Source of the Fishing & Marine Industry