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Fall in Review, 2018

I have already suggested some things to do during this “‘tweener time” while we wait for safe ice.  Naturally, one thing we like to do as anglers is reminisce about past trips, past successes, big ones caught.  That reminiscing could include years past or just the current year, but for me, this time of year, I like to look back over the fall fishing that I just finished.

I fish hard in the fall, as much as possible.  It is the best open-water fishing of the year and this fall again confirmed that belief for me.  I know that my review of this past fall will be too late for you to take advantage of.  Too bad.  Maybe next fall you will remember?

My strategies in the fall are simple–fish are looking to feed, they are getting ready for the winter to come and even next year’s spawn.  So, I am looking for prey, looking for concentrations of prey and when I find it I know the big predators I pursue in the fall will not be far behind.  I am looking for sweet spots where predator fish will take advantage of easy feeding opportunities.  My presentation strategies are usually simple, imitate large baitfish with a handful of crankbaits, swimbaits, maybe a jig now and then, maybe a topwater bait early in the fall, depending on the situation.  Find the key spots, be there at key times, catch a variety of large predator fish.

Early fall starts as soon as late August, and I try to get after some warm-water species then knowing that as the water cools my window for some of those species will close.  I did not dry off any real big flatheads this fall, but I caught a number of them.

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This year was the year of big channel cats for me.  I spent not one minute targeting channel catfish in open-water this year, but they just seemed to find me no matter where I went.  Get a good wind blowing and the big channels are very much predators too!

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Late summer/early fall is a great time for white bass and wipers on Nebraska reservoirs, and I always am on point looking for a school of them to show up.  Of course my son caught the biggest again this fall:

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Then the first few fall cold fronts blow through, you can feel the dry, cool crispness in the air, and it is time to get after some cool-water predators!  I started early this fall:

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Sorry, not a good picture.

And things definitely picked up as the fall proceeded:

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My son and I spent some time on the water together this fall, but not as much as we have in past years.  Still it was really cool knowing that on some evenings he was doing the same thing I was, just on another Nebraska reservoir miles away:

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Largemouth bass are definitely warm-water fish, but every fall my bass catch picks up late in the fall.  There is no doubt that early spring and late fall are the best times of the year to dry off a pot-bellied green bass.

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Another “so-so” photo. Sorry, just could not get a good shot of a bass.

I like to put in some time pursuing big toothies every fall.  Got one early in the fall, but then things got so cold, so fast, that even my esocid bite came to an abrupt halt.

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So, we finished up with some cold-water fish, trout, but not the little put-&-take rainbows stocked in parks and urban waters around the state.  No, something a little bigger than that:

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And that was it.  I could think of some open-water opportunities I could still take advantage of if I could make the trip, but probably waiting for ice now.  All of those fish were caught from Nebraska public waters since the end of August.  All were released.

Cannot wait to get on the ice, cannot wait for next fall either!

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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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