BoatUS ANGLER: Seasonal Fishing Tactics
Winding Down Summer Doesn't Mean The Fishing Stops
by Bob Jensen, courtesy of The Fishing Wire
You may not know it by looking out the window, but signs of summer's departure are already starting. You may not even realize that fact by stepping outdoors. It's still hot outside, the breezes are warm, and dew covers the grass in the morning. However, it is September and we can't avoid the fact that another summer is slipping away. As summer makes its exit, the fish start to detect the changes in their surroundings. If we want to continue to catch fish, we need to make some changes also.
Take a look into the water, and pay close attention to the baitfish. The bluegills and bullheads that were tiny just six or eight weeks ago are noticeably bigger. There are also fewer of them. Many of the baitfish that were spawned in the spring have been eaten by the larger gamefish. That means that the food supply has diminished in the past few weeks, and it will continue to get smaller as fall closes in. The gamefish are still hungry, in fact, they're hungrier. If we can put a bait in front of them, they'll eat it.
The key then, is to find the fish, then give them what they want. In reality, that's always the key. Now and for the rest of the open water season, especially if you're looking for a trophy sized fish, you should be using larger baits. As the waters start to cool off, fish will recognize that as a sign from Mother Nature that they should put the feed-bag on. One big meal will be more attractive to them than several smaller meals.
If largemouth bass are the quarry, a big bulky bait will be a good bet. From Berkley, Seven inch Power Worms or Gulp! Turtle Back Worms will be good, but don't hesitate to try a ten inch worm. You might not get as many strikes, but big baits catch big fish. Also try the new PowerBait Sabertail Burly Bug. This is a bulky bait that has been outstanding since its recent introduction.
It often works best to rig these baits on a rubber-legged jig like a Northland Jungle Jig. This style adds bulk, and that's what the bass want now.
Same thing is true for walleyes, smallmouth, muskies, and northern pike, even crappies. Larger baits will take the larger fish of all these species.
Different bodies of water will be affected by the changes in weather also. Just as larger bodies of water heat up slower early in the year, they also cool off slower in the fall. Smaller bodies of water will often provide the best bite early in the autumn, while the bigger water provides the most action later on. Throughout the Midwest, you can generally find a body of water near where you live that is offering some action.
The fishing action at the end of summer can be a little slower than we're accustomed to, but by moving around you'll still catch fish. And this brief lull in the fishing action signals that some of the best fishing of the year is getting very close.