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Fall, When The Bite is on Gary Howey

It is hard to believe that the summer is gone and we are heading into the fall, it seems like just a week or so ago, that school was out and summer had just begun.

 Well, it is that time of the year, the time our kids are back to school, temperatures should start to decrease, and with the water temperatures, starting to cool all species of fish will be packing on the pounds.

When these things happen, it is a good bet that it will not be long before the fall bite begins.

As the water temperatures decline, all species of fish will really start to feed heavily and because of this, in the fall, larger live bait works best. 

This is the time of the year, when, fish are on a mission, fattening up before the freeze up.  Larger baits, chubs, larger minnows and even more than a single minnow on a hook seems to attract the larger fish, out producing smaller baits.

In the rivers, you will find the walleye, sauger and smallmouth bass moving shallow to clean up any remaining baitfish, crawfish that made it through the summer and smaller game fish.

In our lakes, bluegills, crappies, largemouth bass and pike will move into and along the edge of the weeds, picking off the few baitfish left, insects and of course each other.

Those walleyes in the lake will spread out over the mud flats or cruise the weeds looking for a late season snacks.

The key to locating good numbers of fish will be to find the greenest vegetation as in the fall it attracts the fish. 

There are several reasons that fish will move into these green weed beds.  The first is that their food source, baitfish and other aquatic species have relocated there, another is this is where the most comfortable water temperatures are found as the vegetation gives off oxygen, making it more comfortable for the fish, where they find shade, and of course, ambush locations to attack their food.

If you have fished these weedy areas you know, they are a nightmare, as weeds eat tackle as fast as you can tie it on.

When fishing for bass you will probably be working these weedy areas with some sort of weedless rig such as a Texas rig or some sort of weedless jig and pig combination. 

Fall bass love to bury themselves deep inside the weeds, adjacent to the open pockets in the weeds, waiting in ambush for some aquatic creature to swim by. These open water pockets are good locations to fish and run spinnerbaits over the top of the weeds.  As the bait comes into the open pocket allowing it to helicopter down and when you get a bite or a no-show, no bite, you will need to bring your rod tip up high while power cranking the spinnerbait back up onto the surface.

  Buzzbaits are also very productive baits when fishing weedy areas, especially during the fall. They too should be run quickly, power cranked across the weed with the disturbance they make on the surface and the racket from the bait, bringing the fish up through the weeds to attack the bait. 

As water temperatures drop and late fall approaches, fish, which are cold blooded, their metabolism slows down and you will need to do the same, slowing down the way you fish and moving to smaller baits.

If you are fishing for panfish, work the pockets and along the edge of the weeds with small tube jigs or a light livebait jigs. 

One of the best baits to draw panfish from the thicker cover they are using this time of the year, go with a Slip bobber rig, a slip bobber, split shot, micro jig or a small hook tipped with minnows or pieces of night crawler worked slowly along the outer weed edge.

Walleye anglers this time off the year switch from night crawlers and leeches back to minnows.  Experiment a little bit with your baits during late fall, as all walleyes do not change from worms to minnows at the same time or on a given date. On one trip, they may still prefer the larger live bait and the next a smaller bait presentation.

Those fall fishing for walleye have good luck using jigs drifting through current breaks, worked along the edge of the weeds and on the mud flats.

Guide Chuck Krause and author with a few of the fish they caught while fishing during the fall near Gettysburg, S.D. on Lake Oahe. (Outdoorsmen Productions Photo)

Pike anglers will be working the weeds as where you find weeds, you will find pike. Several baits that will pull pike from within the weeds, include spinnerbaits ran over the top or along the edge of the weeds.

When fishing for pike in the fall, as I mentioned earlier when bass fishing in the weeds, you will want to hold your rod high and power or speed crank the bait over the top of the weeds, using the helicopter drop method into the open water pocket.

  If fishing the weeds edge, the old reliable daredevil ran along the edge will drive pike crazy and if the pike are nearby, results in a thunderous hit as the fish charges out of the weeds, smashing the lure and making an attempt to bury itself back deep into the cover.

  Slip bobber rigs with large hooks and bait drifted along the weed edge is another big pike producer in the fall.

Bottom loving catfish make the move from their summer haunts, those cooler, deeper holes that held them in the hotter weather and head shallower. When fishing for fall cat, anglers fish their prepared (stinkbaits), cutbaits and live bait rigs into the in water with less current and cooler temperatures locations where catfish will be located.        

The fast water below the powerhouse will also hold catfish, as when the water came through the turbines, it created oxygen and the cooler water temperatures and oxygenated water, the catfish will be there, as they love to lie there behind the rock piles, dead falls and snags.

You should not overlook any of the slack water pockets just off the current near the dam or others in the river, as no matter what species of fish you are after, these areas hold fish sometime during the day, as the fish cruise these current breaks regularly searching for a meal.

Fall is the time of the year you do not want to make the mistake that some anglers do and put your fishing tackle away, only think only of hunting, as you are going to miss some of the finest fishing there is during the year.

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Jigging- The Method that works on all Game Fish By Gary Howey

  When I do my seminars throughout the upper Midwest, I talk to a lot of anglers and at one, I had several anglers tell me that they either had trouble fishing a jig or had not used them much as they did not have the time needed to learn how.

  I told them, fishing jigs is not bait used just for species, as they will catch all species of game fish, from panfish on up to lake trout. 

  For me, I do not believe there you will find a more effective piece of equipment in your tackle box or bag an angler can use!

  It surprised me to see that some folks felt jigs used for only one or perhaps two species of fish.

  Jigs are such a versatile tool, that they will catch any game fish that swims!

  Some anglers think that a jig has to be jigged, on the bottom, raised, lowered, and used only when fishing from a boat.

   Jigs are baits that, all anglers should have, no matter what species you fish for or how you fish, as they work when fished from boats, the shore or through the ice.

  If you want to make them more effective, add to them, add a plastic body, night crawlers, leeches, and minnows or fish them plain!

 They come in all sizes, colors and designs.  Bulk them up with marabou, squirrel tail, buck tail or plastic to make the jig drop slower and during cold-water fishing, many anglers simply use a plain jig tipped with a minnow or even a wax worm.

  When fishing smaller jigs, those used for panfish, you can jig them, working them up or down off the bottom, or jigged vertically, cast along the edge of the weeds or suspended under a slip bobber with a piece of crawler, worm or small minnow, making them a very effective method of taking a wide variety of panfish.

  Walleye anglers use jigs from 1/8 to 3/8 ounce, depending on where they fish, the amount of current and the depth they are fishing. They attach minnows, leeches or crawlers to entice walleyes that at times can be very finicky.

  Those looking for bass use a jig & pig combination, with a trailer, which can be plastic like Berkley Gulp, Power Bait, or a pork rind to take both smallmouth and largemouth bass during the toughest of conditions. [Read more…]

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Farm ponds offer bass, bluegill action By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal
HARTINGTON, Neb. | One thing I like about farm pond fishing is that ponds are generally loaded with fish.
And the one Gary Howey and I were fishing just southwest of town was proving that it was no exception.
When it comes to bluegill fishing in ponds, there is no more effective method than using a fly rod. And I was proving that fact today. Seven-inch bluegills were taken on practically every cast.
The tiny black ant that I designed for bluegill fishing more than 40 years ago had not lost its charm. While the ‘gills weren’t monsters, they were giving a good account of themselves on my light tackle.

Howey, meanwhile, was casting a spinnerbait for bass. He had caught and released three before I decided to tie on a bass fly. I chose a black wooly bugger in size 6. The black marabou tail behind the black chenille body made the fly nearly 2 inches long.

Wouldn’t you know it: The first cast produced a nearly 2-pound largemouth. After several airborne leaps I brought the bass to hand and then released it.
We weren’t keeping any fish, but if we were, we still would have released the bass. Bluegills, on the other hand, would have been fair game. They are very prolific, and if there are not enough bass in the pond to keep their numbers down, they will overpopulate and become stunted.

If that happens, any largemouth still in the pond will find it difficult to bring off a spawn. The tiny ‘gills will attack the nest in an effort to eat the eggs, and the male guarding the nest doesn’t stand a chance against hundreds of hungry mouths.

In fact, the old rule of removing 10 pounds of bluegills for every pound of bass from a farm pond is still pretty good advice.
I’m not sure how many farm ponds there are in Nebraska, but the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says there are about 110,000 in Iowa providing about 1.6 million fishing trips annually. The local economic impact is estimated at $7.5 million.

That’s pretty good considering farm ponds are on private property and the angler must get permission to fish from the landowner.

Farm ponds also produce big fish. [Read more…]

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Big Stone Lake’s panfishing secret exposed By Larry Myhre

ORTONVILLE, Minn. | Big Stone Lake is a 26-mile long fish factory. Long known for its excellent walleye fishing, and in the past few years an exploding perch population, few anglers are aware of the excellent fishing for other species.

Take panfish, for instance.

When Artie Arndt, owner of Artie’s Bait and Tackle, told me that 10-inch bluegills were common here, I admit to being skeptical.

Turns out the first ‘gill we caught was taken by his son Tanner and it measured 11 1/2-inches. And that was right in front of the public docks and boat ramp right in town at the south end of the lake.

“Kids fish from the docks here and catch them all the time,” Artie said. [Read more…]