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Information > Hunting & Fishing

Fall Is Not Just For Hunting by NotRite

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TalkHunting Mag:
September through November and even December for that matter at your favorite local fishin’ hole can be some of the best fishing of the year. Good shad populations will consistently produce some of the fastest action of the year. While spring bassin' yields more trophy bass, numbers of bass caught daily usually is at its peak in the fall. Just this past yr I was fortunate enough to take a fishing trip the day before Thanksgiving and actually got 3 nice ones, then killed a nice doe the next day.
 
While deep water produces a lot of good fish in the fall, I typically focus on the shallows early and late each day and stay shallow all day if the weather is breezy and/or cloudy. Bass key on shad in the fall, and they'll follow the baitfish all the way to the very backs of creeks or into any vegetation available. Typically, if you find areas with a lot of baitfish, the bass will be nearby. Bass move daily following the concentrations of shad and fish, so your best fishing areas will change regularly throughout the fall. Essentially, I cover lots of water with moving baits until I start getting bit, then slow down and thoroughly work the area over, trying multiple baits once a school is located. Most bass key on small 1.5- to 4-inch shad in the stripper pits I fish in the fall, so I mainly use smaller baits, even when I'm fishing for big bass.

For locating fish fast, spinnerbaits, topwaters, swimbaits, and crankbaits work best. Choose shad color schemes, primarily whites and chromes, and work these baits fast with erratic stop and go retrieves to trigger strikes from active fish. ¼ and 3/8-ounce spinnerbaits with white or chartreuse and white skirts and tandem silver willow leaf blades work well for me. For topwaters, small poppers worked quickly across the top with a spitting action or steadily walking small Zara Spooks. Of course as my now famous daughter Jade can attest, one can never go wrong with a Tiny Torpedo tied on your line and we all know how topwater fishing can deliver some exciting strikes. Around wood cover or over the tops of grass, chrome ¼- to ½-ounce lipless crankbaits and shad colored crankbaits that run 8 feet or less work great as well. I'll start with a wide wobbling crankbait in the early fall, then go to a more subtle crankbait with a tighter wiggle in the later fall as the water cools.

Once a school is located with moving baits and the action slows, switch to soft plastics and you'll likely catch more fish from the same area, possibly a lot more. My favorite soft plastic rigs for the fall are wacky rigs and weightless soft plastic jerkbaits. For the wacky rig, I use a watermelon Twitch Worm on sunny days and a June bug colored one on cloudy days, rigged on 10 to 15 pound fluorocarbon line with a small weight inserted into the worm. My favorite soft plastic jerkbait for the fall is a Sluggo or Super Fluke rigged weightless Texas style in either the Arkansas Shad or Pearl/Blue Shimmer colors. Some days the bass will chase these as they are steadily twitched over the grass, while other times you'll do best by twitching your bait a couple times and then letting it fall to the bottom. Sometimes I also slip a small nail weight into the Sluggo just to help speed up the fall of the bait. The fish will let you know what they want, just don’t be afraid to make small changes sometimes. In areas with lots of stumps and little grass or along the inside and outside weedlines, a shaky head worm or a light Texas rigged worm will also do well. For the shaky head worm, I use the same Flukes or Sluggo with a watermelon or green pumpkin and drag or hop it along the shallows with 8- to 10-pound fluorocarbon line. My light Texas rig consists of a ¼ ounce sinker that is rigged with a 2/0 Gamgatsu “red” wide gap hook in either pumpkinseed or watermelon red colors, Slowly fish this along the edge of the grass on points with 12- to 15-pound fluorocarbon and you'll consistently put big fish in the boat on the toughest of days. Finally, for lunker bass in the shallows during the fall, work these baits while keying in on stumps and laydowns in the bends of creek channels, or like I do in the pits I fish, any “change” of the bank that gets closer to a nice drop off in the main channel or pit.

As you probably noticed by now, I like to fish for bass, but many of the same techniques I have mentioned believe it or not work for crappie as well. Of course you are talking much smaller baits and weights, but they can still be found in huge wads and many times chasing the same shad schools that the bass are. I have found this out by accident while fishing the somewhat smaller crankbaits and swimbaits I have already spoken of above, getting bit, perhaps thinking a bass “missed” my lure, only to have a crappie on with a mouth full of treble hook!

While your buddies leave for the woods to go hunting this fall, head to the shallows in your local honey holes and you'll likely have a day to remember. I got pictures to prove it! Here's hoping you catch the lunker of your dreams.

NotRite

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