Water Columns – In the Fall
When fall comes around many of us think of deer season and the potential of great hunting. I also remember the fall as an awesome season to catch serious numbers of good quality fish. As a result of my enthusiasm for both sports I have some tough decisions to make on the weekends…whether to hunt or fish! Fall fishing may be the most exciting, fast action, fishing experience you have during the year. In any approach to fishing, always remember the water column, TOP – MIDDLE – BOTTOM, especially during the fall. There are a few baits that I prefer fishing during this time.
Wake baits: small to large depending on the fishery and forage in the water system I am fishing.
Rip-baits and shallow running crank baits: Some of the most important lures that can bring in giant loads of fish.
Jig or Tube: Bottom baits that will crawl, hop, and entice
IDENTIFYING THE BAIT
Before your outing, be sure to understand the forage in the fishery to better assist in choosing the types of lures you will be using. This includes all species of fish that Bass will feed on; Trout – Salmon – Steelhead– Blue Gill– Brim, etc. This is becoming the norm now with the swimbait craze lately, but it goes without saying additionally when choosing your smaller type crankbaits. DO NOT get caught up in color and size right of way, remember it is better to have the wrong bait in the right place, than the right bait in the wrong place! Let your strikes or the attitude of the fish you are catching help you identify the best lure of choice.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON YOUR ELECTRONICS
How well you understand your electronics is critical to your success. I use Lowrance units, and understanding which fish are catchable is simple for me when it comes to this types of sonar. Remember we are in the fall, and bait will determine the attitude of the fish we are trying to catch. On my Lowrance LCX-38C HD, what most of us are looking for are balls of bait, and how the fish are positioning to them. However, in addition to the bait, I look for how many fish (arches) are together at that time, and are they near any type of structure. Regardless if the bait is near or not, when you can identify three or more arches at the same depth that the bait is in, as well as the type of structure they are using, something magical is going to happen. The large arches (fish) that are together usually mean that there is a pack in search of food. Now, it all comes down to the basics of boat position and angles you will use to be successful in catching these fish.
In most waterways, I almost always begin my search in the backs of creeks or outside bends, points leading to creaks. This time of year as the water begins to cool; you will see massive amounts of bait moving. Finding the bait not only will clue you on what column to fish, but also the type of bait that you need to be throwing. Most anglers that I see will always gravitate to main lake points to begin their search. This is a well known fact that the resident fish normally will move out towards the inside, outside, or depression of a point. If you are one of those types of people, be very conscious of the sun and make sure that you have your face directly into it when approaching this type of scenario. More often than not, your catches will always be plentiful when positioning in this manner. The position of the sun will determine what area of the point will warm faster and more importantly how the Bass will most likely position themselves to feed.
In low light conditions you then need to have an open mind, roaming will occur and if there is wind, bait will then be positioned or “brought in or out” to where Bass will feed. When these types of conditions take place; the top or middle column lure scenario can make your heart beat a little faster, bringing wake and rip baits in to play. Most of the time that this happens you will see the fish and bait come to the surface if the weather has been stable or the barometer begins to drop. In a matter of minutes, in the right place you can bring in serious weight!
A perfect scenario is one that has timber, running water, and depth depressions. Add some muddy color, and you are very likely to have a field day and wreck’em. Where I like to begin is the top water column; shallow running and square billed crank baits that I can retrieve through wood and debris is always my choice of tools. Some of my favorites are; SPRO’s Little John, Bagley Balsa B’s, Norman Fat Boys, and Lucky Craft BDS series. Colors I like to keep simple; Brown craw, chartreuse and root beer for discolored water, and shad colors for clear water situations. Any one of these types can be worked effectively with a low ratio of hang ups or snags. If the action is just ok, I might go to the middle column with fast moving baits, like a pointer, or rattling rogue of such. With these baits, it is important to move them fast this time of year, but if the water is chilly, you might want to use a rip-rip-long pause cadence. Long pauses could be 20 to 30 seconds at a time.
At the bottom of the water column you can almost always count on a jig this time of year. If your efforts have been unsuccessful, chances are these green donkeys are feeding on crawfish, and if this is so, it’s going to be fun. Power fishing with jigs in heavy covey like wood, or even with finesse type jigs can be exhilarating. As far as the jigs are concerned, there are a few colors I live by this time of year religiously. Brown-Purples, Black-Blues, and Brown-Greens are for the most part all you need. Add a little pork for some movement, and you are set. The tools of my choice are a bait casting reel with P-Line Fluorocarbon or P-Line Specterx IV braid, on a Powell 734CF rod. (If the depth I am fishing is deeper than 15 feet, I will almost always go to the Powell 765MH)
Fall will always be a great time to fish for numbers, but the most important thing to remember is the water columns regardless of the time of year. The truth is, you will always be able to catch plenty of fish on many different types of baits, and the above are just a few of my favorites. Make sure you identify the forage, proper lure, and water column and you will never regret fishing in the fall!
Vince Hurtado is sponsored by:
C&C Marine, Mercury Marine, Lowrance, Powell , Pro-Cure, Power-Pole and theBBZ.com