By the time you read this article, trollers and live bait fishermen and women will be gearing up for fall patterns, and with any luck the trophy of a lifetime. September thru December can be one of the most productive times of the year, this is the time when most or all trophy fish are caught on lakes, rivers and reservoirs. By no means am I taking away from spring patterns both seasons produce trophy fish.
Why are fish more active and aggressive in the fall months compared to summer? It’s the weather. With air and water temperatures starting to drop. The barometric pressure plays a big part in the art of fall fishing and trophy hunting. As with most lakes you will also start to see the turnover with lake weeds, grasses, and other foliage starting to die off and an increase in water clarity.
Here in the Midwest on almost all lakes and rivers you start to see the migration of fish making it prime time for trophy fishing as they are on the hunt. At this time of year big baits are your best choice whether using live or artificial, you can’t lose using either. The same thing happens in the spring before the spawn, nature dictates that all fish want big baits in both the spring and fall of the year.
Some of the fish that migrate are Muskie, Pike, Walleye, Smallies, along with many other species in the hunt for food and I mean BIG food. I have heard that fish go on a feeding frenzy both in the spring and fall, which may be true. I also believe that all fish feed at this time of year in preparation for the long winter and again preparing for the spring spawn and with that being said the feeding frenzy happens all year long.
Now which artificial baits do you use? Color, size, fat baits, skinny baits what a selection. First, take a step back and start with what you already have. I like to start with my Rapalas, a few favorites are #14 or #16 Husky Jerks and next the Shad Rap #9. Then I like the Storms 3/4 Magnum Hot ‘N Tots and finally the Cotton Cordell CD #7 Magnum Wally Diver. There are so many other big baits to use this time of year like Reef Runners, Berkley Frenzy and a whole host of artificial baits. Last year I started using Baitmate Fish Attractant to give me an edge, everything helps on the water, who knows a trophy may come this year. I do have a number of favorite lures, so use your own judgement and pick your own favorites, live or artificial. I have one all time favorite and I will tell you it works and has always worked DYNAMITE!
So with that being said, what live bait do I use? I stick to live baits over 6″. If you can find them use red tail chubs, black tail chubs or even large suckers. These are some of the best live bait choices for me in the fall. I will also use 6-8″ Alive Gulp and not forgetting 4″ ring worms, which most colors work. Live baits presentations that have worked for me are minnows on a Lindy rig or something similar or a jig, you can’t go wrong with any of these presentations. Last but not least jigging spoons or blade baits, the color is up to you.
With live and artificial baits picked what boat speed should you use? For crank baits I start at 1.5 mph and go up from there to 3.0 mph at best. Then let the fish tell you the speed they want, trust me they will.
Now, on to air and water temps. Both start to drop near the end of October, November, and early December. I would start looking for water temps that are in the mid 60s to low 50s and take advantage of this time of year and troll artificial or live baits when possible. l start in warmest water I can find. Depending on what part of country you live in the warmer the water the better. Start under 10′ and if the water is warmer at 5′ or less you can start there. I would not go over 15′, but follow the bait fish they will tell you where a trophy could be.
All bait fish will start to move into river systems and reservoirs. If you have a river in your area look at inside bends, cuts, deep holes, points and humps. If you have a dam, it will be very productive because of all the moving water. Bridges hold large numbers of fish all year long. It might take a little time and a lot of hard work to find where the fish are hiding but it will pay off. River systems from the Midwest to the Northeast are some of the most under utilized but top notch fishing spots.
Do your homework in your own fishing areas and who knows that next trophy could end up on your wall. Be ready for a good fall season of trophy hunting. Whether it’s that fish of a lifetime, or that buck. Have fun on the water or in the field, and be safe.
Gone Fishing Again Guide Service