Water temperatures are dropping and the fish are trying to pack on all the pounds they can to make it through another Nebraska winter. As you might imagine, this is benefiting area fishermen.
In the Tri-County canal system, the crappies are gathering in areas with numerous types of cover with quick access to deep water. Trees are good, but I’ve found that rocky areas and boat docks are more productive. Once you find what depth the crappies are holding in, you can really have an outstanding day. On the right day, it’s common for 2 or 3 of us in a boat to have 150 fish each day. Those days for us in the fall are usually sunny, calmer days in the middle or end of a stable weather pattern. If you’re able to take advantage of these rare days, you can be rewarded handsomely. While catching crappies throwing light jigs and a variety of plastics, we’ve also caught bluegills, walleyes, and sometimes large pike.
If walleyes are your game, this is the time of year to be on the water. Depending on area you’re fishing, these voracious predators are eating all the shad or alewife they can find. As a rule in the fall, find the bait, and you find the fish. It’s been my experience lately that the predators are not always with the bait schools directly, but are not far away.
Halloween turned out to be a day of scary big fish for our boat. My friend Dave Jorgensen and I fished for about 5 hours and braved the windy conditions. While looking for bait schools, we found fish nearby in an area that gave them the chance to feed on the bait by pushing them into a steep break, leaving the prey a poor escape route. If you are there at the right time, it can be dynamite fishing. Our first fish of the day was hooked 20 minutes after the first line was dropped and was a 27 1/2″ walleye. The 2nd fish was a real dandy, measuring in at 29 3/4″ and going over 10lbs. With Dave getting a 27 1/2″ and 28″ fish in the next 45 minutes, it qualified as unreal Nebraska fishing. We ended with 4 more walleyes, including a 23″ and two at 24″, 5 white bass and 3 crappies. We also saw a 32″ northern pike caught. All these fish were caught using a variety of slab spoons, which imitate dying bait fish. They obviously appeal to many different species of fish, not just walleyes.
Once again, finding the bait schools is the key to success this time of year. With our ever-changing Nebraska weather conditions, it can be tough at times to get out on a nice day to do some fishing. But with warm hunting clothes and sweatshirts handy, it can be very well worth it.