Msg 1 Posted: 02:06 PM 09/28/06 (CST)
T3' talks tactics for big fish season |
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 3:29 PM EDT
By Ron C. Hustvedt Jr. Contributing Writer
Knowledge is power but only if you apply it and use it to teach others. By now, everybody knows that fall fishing is phenomenal, but - for some reason - most anglers tend to let their gear gather dust this time of the year.
Those anglers have knowledge but aren't applying it. Outdoor News' very own 'Tackle' Terry Tuma has the knowledge and took some time from applying it to educate others. Even though he enjoys being one of the only boats on the water in the fall, Tuma believes that informing other anglers is best.
Q: Outdoors lovers have a lot to do in the fall with so many fishing and hunting opportunities. How do you strike a balance between the two?
A: Actually, I don't. I used to hunt a ton in the fall but the fishing has been so good for me that it took hunting away.
It's great to be on the lake enjoying Mother Nature and the scenery, and there's no competition. Boating pressure and fishing pressure are next to nothing, so it's a very relaxing time on the water especially after a busy summer.
In the fall, the only one you compete against is yourself.
Q: What do you like to fish for in the fall?
A: My favorite fall fish are walleyes, crappies, and bass. I fish for both largemouth and smallmouth, though smallmouth are catch and release only. Remember that.
Bass are my favorite to fish and this is the best time of the year for catching a trophy largemouth.
I'll even wet a line for bluegills now and then but they tend to slow down between the summer and early ice bites. Needless to say, there are great opportunities all the way around for almost every species around. That includes big pike and muskies.
Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception about fall fishing?
A: That the fishing is so good that you can just get on the lake and have unbelievable luck.
Make no doubt about it, fall fishing can be incredible but there are tough days and there are days when you catch only a few. That said, this is the best time of the year for both big numbers of fish and plain old big fish.
Just like any other time of the year, however, you have to do the right thing at the right time in order to be successful.
Q: Anything else people misunderstand about fall fishing?
A: I get a lot of questions at seminars about fall fishing and people often seem to think you need to fish shallow in fall, use small lures and slow presentations. On certain days that's true, but for the most part you want to use medium to large lures at a medium speed presentation and you'll fish all over the water column.
Because the days are getting shorter and the water is cooling, you'll find the fishing is good throughout the day - not just during low light conditions. The fish are bulking up for the wintertime, which means they want the biggest meal they can get with the least amount of effort possible.
A hungry fish is an easier fish to catch, which explains why they tend to prefer medium to large lures and don't care too much about the speed it comes at them.
You know, there's one other thing I heard recently that I want to clarify. Somebody said that the fish are feeding more in the fall because there's a huge food source around and that's not true. The food sources are depleted compared to what they were in the summertime although what's still around is larger now.
Q: What is some good advice on chasing largemouth bass?
A: There's usually good shallow green weed bite on the flats where both coontail and cabbage weeds are found. When you find them in these areas be careful - they will be aggressive. The biggest fish I ever caught in the fall was in an area like this in only a foot of water.
Don't just fish shallow, however. The bass will be up in the weeds feeding but once they are finished, they'll move to the edge of the weedlines or even into mid-lake structure far away from cover. We've caught some unbelievable numbers fishing in 14 to 15 feet of water with plastics and fishing the breakline off the edge of the flats in deep water.
The bass are going to be food oriented most of the time, but don't get so hung up on where they are 'supposed to be' that you stop looking for where they actually are located.
Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastics are great lure choices - with crankbaits being my first choice even when the water dips into the 40s.
Q: What if the bass aren't hanging out in those locations?
A: Like I said, don't get hung up on a few locations. If you are on a spot you think should hold fish and there aren't any, move. This is true in the fall more than other times of the year.
Two years ago I was on a lake and struggling to catch a fish. It was October and I caught a few small ones over the green weeds, but I couldn't find anything else anywhere and it seemed to be a good day to be on the water. I kept looking and ended up on a flat with a thick mat of dead weeds on the bottom and a ton of big bass.
Fish other places on the lake including the first breakline, inside turns or somewhere with both rocks and cabbage. Find that combination on almost every water body and you'll hook into something nice.
Q: Any advice on those wily fall walleyes?
A: River fishing is great this time of the year on rock piles, riprap areas and necked-down areas. On lakes we're talking green weeds flats at the breakline into deep water, usually in 8 to 10 feet at the edge of the cabbage.
In lowlight periods such as the twilight hours, cloudy days or large waves, the fish usually will be on the edge of the cabbage feeding. When these conditions exist, cast or troll midsize to large crankbaits into the cabbage. Trolling speeds can vary from 1.9 to 2.5 miles per hour. Don't be afraid to cast or troll the flats and rocks.
When the sun shines more they'll drop down the nearby edge sometimes as deep as 30 to 40 feet down. Use a jig tipped with a minnow and some dressing. It's important to bulk up the jig and use a heavier one to get down there and present something appetizing to these hungry walleyes. Redtail chubs are by far the best although jumbo leeches are an OK substitute.
Q: Those crappies that 'disappear' during the summer tend to come back in the fall. What's the best approach for them?
A: The two best ways to catch fall crappies are with a jig and a fathead minnow, and trolling livebait rigs.
During the early part of the fall, crappies are weed oriented. Once the weeds die they'll move to the sunken rock piles and breaklines. As the season progresses, try fishing the deeper breaklines and by mid-October don't be afraid to fish over the basin of the lake. They'll often be found roaming over water 30 to 40 feet deep.
In very late October, a place I like to fish for crappies that most people don't know about are the beaches or sandy shorelines along the sunnyside of the lake. They can be up as shallow as 2 to 3 feet meaning a float system is your best bet.
Q: Any final advice?
A: Don't sit in a spot all day long not catching fish. If things aren't going well, try switching sizes and colors but then move on. With crankbaits and plastics, don't just go with the standard colors the fish have seen all summer long. Fire tiger, perch and shad work great but sometimes everything but those three colors is the best option.
The fall fishing is a bonanza but you still need to use your knowledge and follow the rules of being a versatile angler.
If you don't have the greatest luck, don't give up.
IF IT'S WET...IT'S CATCH'N FISH