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Fall Review, 2017

We are well into December now and I am starting to get impatient for fishable ice!  Does not look like that is coming in the next few days, but am hearing some talk about colder weather maybe a couple weeks from now.  I sure hope so!  Regardless, my open-water fishing for this year is winding down; I may still make a trip or two more depending on weather conditions, but right now I would rather be walking on the water.

I try to post reports on my adventures throughout the year, and most years I finish my open-water fishing with a report on the autumn’s efforts.  I know this is not fair because by the time I blog about it, the fall is gone.  However, if you are paying attention, there is always next fall. . . .

Looking back through my fishing notes, it is not uncommon to see that I put in as many trips during the fall as I do the rest of the open-water season combined.  In my opinion, fall is one of the best times of the year to fish and I fish hard from the end of August until the water starts to get a skim of ice.  Like all of my fishing, it is not unusual for me to target a variety of species, but I have to admit that in the fall I am most likely to “swing for the fences” and spend most of my time fishing for some of our largest predator fish.  “Swinging for the fences” is a good analogy as fall fishing can be “boom” or “bust”.  Yep, I put in some unsuccessful trips in the fall, sometimes a lot of them.  On the other hand, when it is right, it is really right and the fishing can be the best of the year.

The species may vary, but most autumns the techniques I use to catch a variety of predator fish from a variety of Nebraska waters ain’t all that much different.  Putting-on-the-feed-bag is the major driver behind fish behavior in the fall, so my approach is pretty simple wherever I am fishing–find concentrations of prey, fish there at prime times, hold onto the rod.  On many Nebraska waters, our reservoirs in particular, the variety of predator fish in those waters typically will be utilizing the same primary prey in the fall.  Once you figure out where, you might encounter several of those different species without changing presentations.  As long as they are big, I love ’em all!

We had another good fall on wipers this year:

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I would tell you that I only have pictures of my son with a couple of nice wipers because we did not get pictures of any of the big fish I caught.  But, I am afraid he did catch the biggest wipers this fall.  I missed one at the end of a cast one evening that still haunts me.

I have admitted before that we may not necessarily spend a lot of time targeting largemouth bass, but some bass often show up right along with the other predators.  Oh sure, Daniel got the biggest of those this fall too.

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Like most autumns I had a road trip or two on the agenda.  I dabbled around and caught some trout in a couple of places including some tigers and a cuttie!

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On one of those trips I had a gorgeous evening so I kept a couple of small bluegills for cutbait and stayed after dark.  Wish I had kept more bluegills then because when my cutbait was gone I had dried off a couple of beautiful channel cats, the largest just shy of 30 inches.

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It seems like this fall has been exceptionally windy, and yes, I fished on a couple of days that were so windy I should have had my head examined.  On the other hand, a couple of those windy days ended in two evenings of unbelievable white bass fishing for some big white bass!

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Internet scouts look close, you can see the bait I was using.  Those white bass loved them some Rippin Rap.  When they eat a bait like this, you know it is “on like Donkey Kong”!

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In fact they loved it so much that I caught two on that one bait on one cast, one on the front treble and one on the back treble.  I have heard stories of that happening before, but that was the first for me.

I said fall fishing can certainly be “hit or miss” and unfortunately I have to tell you my son and I missed on catching any muskies this fall.  Believe me, it is not because we did not try.  As is always true with muskie fishing, we put in hours and hours on three different waterbodies.  We saw a fish or two, Daniel missed one, but that was it.  Oh yes, we have a score to settle with the muskies, again.  It will get settled, just a matter of even more time!

Lastly, we finished off with a fantastic trip for some big, stunning rainbows.  I did blog about that trip already, Combodacious, Late Fall 2017.

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Every fish you see in the photos was released.  We will be back, and they will be even bigger!

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And that pretty much brings me back to where I am right now–reminiscing about the great fall, waiting for ice!

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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