by Bob Jensen
This period of time between late summer and early fall can provide some very good fishing, but it can also be a challenging time to catch fish. The night-time air temperatures are chilly, but the daytime temps are still warm. Thirty degree temperature swings in a day aren’t uncommon at all. However, these temperature changes, along with shorter days indicate to the fish that something’s going on. They’ll still eat your bait, but sometimes you have to do different things to get them to do so. Here are some ideas on those different things.
First things first: Just like any other time of year, you’ve got to find the fish. In the spring you’re pretty sure they’ll be either in their spawning areas or nearby.
In the summer, they’ll be where the food is.
This time of year they’ll still be where the food is, but with the changes going on, and after a full summer of being eaten, the baitfish numbers will be down and somewhat broken up. The baitfish that are left will be maybe shallow, maybe deep, maybe along a weedline, or, maybe just out wandering around, moving from one location to another. The gamefish will be doing the same thing. Therefore, you’ve got to keep moving. You’ll find a biter here, another one over there, and a couple more somewhere else.
We often talk about establishing a pattern for fishing. Establishing a pattern means you determine where the fish are, what bait they want, and how they want it. In this time between summer and fall, the pattern might be kind of loose. You can catch a couple on crankbaits, then a few more on a jig, and another fish or two on a spinner or spinnerbait: You get the idea. You’ve got to keep doing different things and fishing different areas to put some fish in the boat.
Maybe the biggest key to success this time of year is to make a decision about how you’ll go about catching fish. If you’re after largemouth bass, and the lake you’re on has a good deep weedline, you might want to make a commitment to fish the weedline, probably with a jig/soft bait combination. A Slurp! Jig or a Lip-Stick Jig-Worm with a Gulp! Super Worm or Power Worm will be a good way to go. If the fish are biting pretty good, go with a larger worm. If the bite is off, go with a smaller worm. Also try a Jungle Bug jig with a Chigger Chunk. Forget about the shallows and just concentrate on the weedline. Keep casting and you’ll get bit.
If walleyes are your interest, you could commit to an area and just work it over completely. You could maybe pull a live-bait rig around a sunken island. If you choose to commit to a deep water area, do some sonar work and make sure fish are present.
A better idea might be to put a crankbait or spinner rig on and start trolling. Work your baits through areas where you’ve caught walleyes before. If you catch one, go back through the area and see if another is there. If so, make another pass: If not, keep moving to a different area. Don’t hang around one spot too long.
Different anglers have different approaches for catching fish this time of year. If you put in your time, you’ll get bit. Some days the bite will be better than others, but that’s the way it is with fishing year ‘round. The key is, if you get the chance to go fishing, take advantage of that chance.