Fall Bass Fishing Techniques and Tips

Fall Bass Fishing by Sean Obrien

Along with the trout fishing in the fall, the bass fishing really begins to pick up as the season’s change.  There are a lot of factors involved in this, some of which include time of day, weather, water temperature, and perhaps most importantly, baitfish.  Bass fishing techniques change with the seasons, and we will detail some fall and colder water temperature tactics that can increase your fall bass fishing ability.

As the hot summer months begin to cool down, the water temperature begins to drop.  This creates a situation where the bass begin to come fish will begin to chase more, and they can use this to their advantage.  Another additionally factor the colder water temperature brings is the fish closer to the shore, as the shallow water is usually warmer.  The baitfish also congregate in the shallows, feasting on the algae that is ever present in most freshwater ponds and lakes. Baitfish school up in the fall, which makes it easier for the bass to grab mouthfuls of them, and allows the angler to follow the baitfish to  the bass.  Throw whatever you are fishing with into schools of baitfish, or where you think the baitfish are, and you will more often than not get hit. Another gauge of where the fish may be is the appearance of birds – they tend to congregate and feed on the baitfish as well.  Keep aware and hit the spots that appear to have these activities occurring and you will be well on your way to cleaning up with your fall bass fishing  catch.

It is more important than at any other point in any season that the angler learns to read the water of whatever area he is fishing.  In the afternoon, when the water is calm and glassy, topwater lures will attract action, as the more aggressive fish will come up to strike.  Not much better than to get a topwater strike of a big bass when the water is calm and clear.  You can still throw your worms out at structures and probably get a bite, as the more aggressive and active bass will be hitting everything. Another spot to look at is creek entries into the lake or pond, as this is where the baitfish will run, and the bass will follow.  These spots are perfect for experimenting with all kinds of different lures and really determining what works and what doesn’t.

Sometimes, what has worked in a particular spot in the spring will continue to work in the fall, but for the most part, switching it up will always be recommended.  By the fall, these fish have seen a ton of bait, and being a little different could get a hit when nothing else is working.  Throw everything you can and utilize the entire water column in your pursuit of fall bass.  As the days get shorter and colder, enjoy every second that you can outdoors and throwing lures, because when the snow piles up you will be wishing you had these opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New England Fall Fishing

New England Fall Fishing by Sean Obrien

Although not the last gasp of the fishing season, the first few weeks in September can be defined as the beginning of the end.  Tropical storm remnants can impact water temperature, migration patterns can be affected, and the fish are just plain confused.  The good news is, that in all of this confusion, we enter the opening of New England fall fishing , which I consider a separate season in itself.  Trout fishing picks back up as the water temperatures cool, and many states restock ponds and streams in the fall to create holdover trout for the winter anglers.  Saltwater fishing in New England also gets a boost, as the bottom dwelling species come to the forefront, and the albie, or false albacore bite becomes the target of choice. Continue reading New England Fall Fishing

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Salmon Fly Fishing for the East Coast

Salmon Fly Fishing by Sean Obrien

Some of the best salmon fly fishing in the United States is relatively tough to get to by normal standards.  Two places that come to mind almost immediately are The great Northwest, and Alaska.  There are naturally many other areas in the USA as well, but those are two of the best in the world.  A little bit closer to home for those of us on the East Coast would be ideal for that fall salmon fly fishing trip.   Perhaps the best spot on this half of the United States is Pulaski, NY.  This small sleepy town in Oswego County has a population of 2,365 as of the 2010 census.  But it also has a 2 month period in September and October where the Coho and King salmon are spawning, and the fly fishing is absolutely insane.  The aptly named Salmon River is home to some of the best salmon fishing anywhere, and definitely the best on or near the eastern half of the USA. .

Anglers line up shoulder to shoulder for the opportunity to catch a coho or king salmon as they make their annual run up the river.  The fish seem to mill around the estuary, and then race up the river in spurts. Some of the fish can be in excess of 40 pounds and will put up a hell of a fight. One of the best methods is to use salmon eggs, because the fish are going upstream to spawn.  If they see a random egg floating in the water the natural instinct is to grab it and hold it in their mouth, which will lead to a hook set.  Hopefully.  The fish are not as aggressive in Pulaski as you would think, but there are spurts where you can barely see the river bottom because of all the salmon. These groupings of fish occur as they swim upriver from the estuary where Lake Ontario meets New York.  The king and coho salmon are not native to the area, but have thrived since their introduction into the ecosystem in the 1960’s. Now, there is a huge game fish population in this area, and the trout and salmon, as well as smallmouth bass make this a great destination for a Salmon Fly Fishing trip.

The only method of fishing that is banned on the Salmon River is snagging, because at certain points in the day, the fish are so plentiful running upstream that you can throw a treble hook of any bare hook and rip it through the water and you would probably snag something.  There is also a requirement on the way weights are tied to lines, as the authorities do not allow a sliding weight, so there is no chance of it dropping to the hook and allowing you to snag easier.  That said, the typical setup is a small weight about 48” from the hook, rigged with  a salmon egg.

There are a ton of essential items to insure safety in the cold water streams in late September and early October.  The most essential is a pair of insulated waders, as you will be spending quite a bit  of time in knee to waist deep water, and it is not warm.  Gloves, and any and all other cold weather essentials will be a benefit out here.  It is also recommended that the anglers wear studded or cleated shoes to avoid slipping and falling in the river.  Polarized sunglasses are also a must, as when the river is clear, you will be able to sight fish and pick your spots.

Although spinning rods continue to dominate the day, fly fishing has been a growing segment of the angler population on the Salmon River.  Drifting streamers and egg patterns down the river during a run will inevitably lead to a hook up with some monster fish.  As you see them darting up the river in the clear water, you feel like you can dive in and bare hand them.  We will take a look at techniques and tips for both spinning and fly fishing for these monsters next, so be sure to check back with us for all your salmon fly fishing information.

 

 

 

 

 

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Five Great Bass Lures for Fall

As the Waters Start to Cool, the Fishing Starts to Heat-up.

Great Bass Lures By Ben Team

After months spent trying to tempt stubborn summer bass into biting, the arrival of fall is well-received by most southern anglers. Whereas summer bass are content to keep a low profile and snatch up just enough food to remain healthy, autumn bass chase baitfish like it’s their last day on Earth.

Abandoning their finicky ways, fall bass begin feeding heavily in order to put on extra reserves to sustain them through the long, cold winter, when food is scarce and difficult to catch. Fish represent the most attractive food source for bass at this time, and a variety of minnow- or panfish-imitating lures work well for slaying salmoides.

Five Great Bass Lures

1.    Spinnerbaits

Spinnerbaits work in most water conditions and through most seasons, but they are especially effective in the autumn, when bass are actively chasing fish. The flash and vibration created by the spinning blades is simply irresistible for many bass and strikes often come in bunches.

Because you can fish them just under the surface or roll them along the bottom at a variety of speeds, spinnerbaits are great bass lures to use when trying to discern the best pattern for the day. Try a variety of speeds, cadences, depths and color combinations until you hit on the flavor of the day.

2.    Swimbaits

Few lures can match the lifelike movement of a quality paddle-tail swimbait, and few times of the year are better suited to their use than fall. “Match the hatch” when selecting a color and size, but don’t be afraid to add a little more color to the lure when working in low-visibility ponds and lakes.

A straight retrieve is often the most effective approach, but you can also use a vertical presentation to target isolated cover. If you rig the bait with a jig-head, it will drop in a nose-down manner; if you rig it with a weighted swimbait hook, it will tend to fall while sitting horizontally.

If you are looking to land a leviathan-sized fish, larger, joint-bodied swimbaits can also be effective during this time of year.

3.    Crankbaits

A variety of crankbait styles, sizes and colors work in the fall, but the wide, erratic wobble of a square billed crankbait is often the best bet. Rattling, lipless styles are also effective, particularly if the water is muddy, and you need some help attracting bass through the soup.

If you’ve been using deep-diving models to target bass in the Summer, consider switching to shallower-diving models as the weather cools. Because shad tend to move out of the main lake or channel and back into the feeder creeks and rivers, you should concentrate working such areas.

4.    Buzz Baits

The dropping water temperatures and shifting feeding habits of fall largemouth often combine to improve the surface bite, which is often tentative at best during the summer heat. Bluegill and shad color schemes work most effectively in clear or stained waters, whereas the superior silhouette provided by dark blue or black models provides the bass with a good target in muddy water.

Experiment with the speed of your retrieve when trying to pattern the fish. If you are having trouble keeping the lure at the surface while retrieving it slowly, experiment with different trailers. Bulky trailers create more resistance (drag) and the added plastic helps to increase the lures buoyancy.

5.    Swim Jigs

Most jig designs – casting, flipping, football and finesse – work for catching fall bass (when don’t jigs work?), but given their tendency to feast upon fish at this time, swim jigs are definitely worthy of special consideration. Swim jigs feature slightly “pinched” or cone-shaped noses, they have thinner weed guards and they are often constructed to produce a slightly subtler profile than other jigs do – all of which help to better mimic a baitfish or bluegill.

Standard jig colors – black, blue and combinations thereof – work, but try to mimic whatever species the bass are chasing if these old standbys don’t elicit strikes. Pumpkinseed, watermelon and bluegill patterns are great if the bass are chasing panfish, while whites, grays, silvers and blues help to mimic shad.

Try out some of these great bass lures over the next few weeks and let us know how they work for you. Did we leave anything off the list? Let us know in the comments below. We’d also love to see what you’ve landed lately, so tweet us (or me) your best catch photos!

 

 

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How the Steelhead Gene Bank Program Works (part 3 of 3)

Steelhead Gene Bank by Debbie Kay

Gene Bank Streams in Washington State are the Nisqually and Elwha Rivers. They have been officially named to Washington’s new Steelhead Gene Bank program.  These streams will no longer take any stocked hatchery fish, and measures will be taken to remove hatchery fish and to better preserve the area for wild fish.  These two streams are just the beginning of a program designed to try and help these threatened fish to survive and replenish in the state’s Puget Lowlands.

Steelhead in Washington State

Steelhead are a native, sea-run subspecies of rainbow trout, or Oncorhynchus mykiss.  Steelhead are one of the species known to survive multiple spawns, unlike West Coast salmon.  They have two runs, a summer run and a winter run.  Summer runs are typically in the Puget Sound lowlands, while winter runs are closer to the Pacific Ocean.  The fish emerge from the gravel and rear in freshwater from two to four years, depending on the amount of food and cool water available.  The longer that the fish rear, the higher survival rate they tend to have. Returning steelhead spawn between 8 and 11 pounds, and they can grow to sizes up to 40lbs.

The Concern with Hatchery Steelhead

Rainbows are one of the original hatchery fish, with successful stocking programs dating back to the 1800’s.  This made a switch to steelhead a natural and logical choice. Local steelhead stocking programs are known to take the fish directly from a spawn, trying to preserve the in-stream gene bank. They have been successful in upping raw numbers in streams, but this has not slowed population decline for wild fish.  A 2009 study from Oregon State showed some of the problems with hatchery steelhead.  In the wild, a hatchery fish is not just unconditioned for life in the wild, it is actually genetically less likely to survive.  A fish born in the wild from two hatchery parents has only a 37% chance of survival compared to a wild fish.  A fish with one wild parent has only an 80% chance of survival.  This reduced survival rate was proven to pass on to the next generation, and was assumed to continue for several more generations as well.  For a fish that is struggling already due to habitat concerns, to put breeding fish into the system that are known to reduce the chance of survival for the population as a whole, while taking food resources from those who need it was considered to be contributing to the extinction of wild steelhead strains.

How the Steelhead Gene Bank Program Works

There are three designated areas in the Puget Sound lowlands that are designated for steelhead recovery plans, like the gene bank streams.  Within each, streams will be chosen where hatchery fish will no longer be added.  Fishing will be encouraged for hatchery fish with mandatory take, and release-only for wild fish.  No winter fishing (during the winter run) will be allowed.  The Nisqually and Elwha were chosen for the massive restoration efforts on behalf of both streams, including the dam removal in the Elwha river, and the moratorium on hatchery steelhead in the Nisqually dating back to 1982.  More streams will be given the Steelhead Gene Bank classification moving forward.

See Part One and Part Two

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