The passage of Labor Day weekend suggests to many people that the end of summer is near, and to some anglers, that means it’s time to put the boat and other fishing equipment into storage. Anglers who quit fishing when summer exits are missing out on what some say is the best fishing of the year. If the thought of catching fish and having the water to yourself is appealing, here’s how you can extend your fishing season.
Different bodies of water will be productive in the fall at different times. A shallow lake with dark water starts to cool earlier, so those lakes will often be better producers earlier in the fall. The deeper lakes with clear water will turn on a couple of weeks later. Rivers can provide great open water fishing after area lakes have frozen over.
As the water cools off, slower presentations will become more productive. Crankbaits can be good for walleyes and smallmouth bass early in the fall, but a jig/minnow or jig/plastic will be better as the water gets cooler. A jig/minnow has been the go-to for fall anglers for many species of fish, and that combo will still catch’em. We’ve learned though that a jig/plastic set-up will be just as productive much of the time, and will offer a lot of size, color, and action options. A Rage Swimmer on the back of a jig has put a lot of fish in the boat in recent years.
The same thing holds true with largemouth bass. They’ll willingly eat a spinnerbait or buzzbait early in the autumn, but as the water cools, largemouth will be more interested in a Hack Attack jig with a Rage Craw or Rodent. The slower moving, subtle action of a jig is what the bass prefer as autumn progresses.
Another presentation that has gained in popularity in the fall is a dropshot rig. I remember sharing a boat with Mike Frisch in his home area of central Minnesota one autumn day. We had an outstanding afternoon of catching smallmouth bass on dropshot rigs. A couple of days later I was in northern Wisconsin and the dropshot presentation repeated as an outstanding producer for smallmouth, but also largemouth bass, walleyes, and crappies. A KVD Dream Shot is a good bait to start with if bass are the target, and walleyes will also accept this offering. Go to a smaller bait if you want to focus on crappies. When the fish are active, go with a bigger bait. When they’re playing hard to get, go smaller.
A fall day often starts out chilly and warms as the day goes on. Blackfish has created a line of clothing that makes layering effective. It’s comfortable, quiet, and allows for easy movement when casting or setting the hook. Your time on the water will be much more enjoyable if you’re comfortable.
Autumn provides lots of outdoor opportunities. Many of us have a hard time deciding what to do. After many, many memorable autumn fishing trips, I rarely have a hard time deciding what to do. The knowledge that the water is going to get hard soon in the part of the world that I live in is motivation enough to hook the boat on behind the truck and head to a lake. If you like to catch fish, you should consider doing the same.