I love traveling around Nebraska. Love getting out of the eastern end of the state and back “home” every chance I get. When I do that, I am often made aware that life in the city gets sped up more than needed. I appreciate being reminded to take a breath and slow down when I am back in the real Nebraska.
That is a good reminder if you are still spending some time on the water this time of year.
No doubt our water temperatures have taken a dive in the past week. Fall is definitely here. In fact, it is safe to say we are looking at late fall now.
Believe me, I am not giving up on open-water fishing. Not just going to sit around waiting for ice-up. However, it is time to adjust strategies in order to catch some fish. Oh yes, big fish can still be caught, but you might have to take a breath and slow down to hook up.
I have blogged about general fall fishing strategies in the past, Go Slow, Go Big, or Go Home. Want to emphasize a part of that equation here. Shivering as I walked into the office again this morning, and thinking of fishing (I always am), I was telling myself that I am going to have to slow down.
In some cases painfully slow.
Now there are always exceptions. You never know what you will experience on any given day on the water, and the fish do not read books. In spite of that, I will say that slower presentations tend to become more productive this late in the fall.
Live bait presentations can be good in the fall. If you can find some large minnows, chubs, they can be particularly effective now for a variety of predator fish.
In spite of that, I seldom mess with live bait for any fishing I do anymore. I will be fishing artificial baits including those that are retrieved horizontally (e.g. crankbaits, swimbaits), but the retrieves will be S-L-O-W. I want a retrieve that is just fast enough to get the bait wobbling. Then, I may throw in frequent pauses. Some of those pauses may last several seconds. Am a huge fan of neutrally-buoyant crankbaits for those types of retrieves. Oh, by the way, a little tip, get the suspend strips and doctor those baits to make sure they are perfectly neutrally buoyant.
Think vertical. Vertical presentations become more productive in colder water. With those presentations baits may be fished with quite a bit of movement, but that motion will be vertical keeping the bait in one spot longer. Rattle baits, blade baits, tail-spinners and jigging spoons are good examples of artificial baits that can be fished vertically. In addition, those presentations are great imitations of cold-water-stressed baitfish that predator fish are gorging on right now.
Jigs are a great bait that can catch every fish that swims at almost any time. Right now, fish ’em slow. A person can do that by fishing lighter weights that will require slower retrieves. On the other hand, you might try fishing a heavier jig and then again fishing it in a more vertical fashion. If you are targeting panfish or trout, do not forget the floats!
Fish can be caught from open water right up until the time the water starts becoming hard. You know I will be on that hard water as soon as it is safe! Until then I am not going to quit. Just need to take a breath and adjust my approach. The pay-offs can be big!