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On the Water, Fall 2023

A week ago I gave a report on the hunting successes members of my family have had this fall (Family in the Field, Fall 2023).  I did that because I also love to hunt.  Unfortunately, as I mentioned at the end of that blog post, there is so much fish and game and so little time.  I would like to do it all, but just cannot.  I have however slipped out and chased roosters a couple of times this fall.  (Unsuccessfully I might add, rooster pheasants never play fair!)

Years ago, I started spending more and more time on the water in the fall.  Admittedly, that is where you will find me most of the time.  In my opinion, the perfect calendar would have three months of spring turkey hunting, six months of ice fishing and three months of fall fishing.  That tells you where my preferences lie.

So, you know how much I love fall fishing.  I mention that at the beginning of every fall, but then I will not give frequent updates through the fall.  No, I am not going to do that.  I will give you a review when things slow down.  With the weather we are currently having, I may still fish open water, but as of now, here is what my fall looked like this year. . . .

I have often said that the seasons change gradually.  Oh yes, with Nebraska weather those changes come in “fits and starts”, but over the long term it is gradual.  Fishing patterns often start to transition to fall as early as late August, but those changes are subtle.  You might not notice them unless you spend a lot of time on the water.

Anywho, my fall fishing started months ago.  Again this fall I was able to get around a bit and fish for a variety of species.  Started out with some smallmouths:


Nothing better than smallmouth bass on top-waters!

Always like to touch at least one flathead every fall!


I know, I know, as flatheads go that was a small one.  Yes, I always wish I had caught more and much larger.  However, that particular fish ate a bait in about two feet of water and when I set the hook it just exploded!

Always have said that anglers want big fish and more of them!  That was certainly true for me this fall.  Sure, I caught some really nice fish, but I was always hoping for just a few more and just a little bigger.

Here is one of the nicer fish I caught.


Sorry, it was also one of the poorer photos I took.

Every fall I try, and expect to dry off a big walleye or three.  Gotta tell you that I did not touch any big walleyes this fall, but I did have a couple of nights where I caught numbers!  In fact, on one of those nights, when the fish showed up, it was one every cast!


Late this fall, I spent some time oppressing myself by casting for muskies.  I did not spend a lot of time doing that, but some.

If you are a muskie angler, you will understand when I show you this picture of what I caught:


Actually, if you look really close. . . . After five hours of casting, a little after sunset, right at the end of my retrieve, I had a lazy follow from a fish I would guess was in the mid-30-inch range.  The light was low by that time.  I did not see the fish until it was literally at my feet.  Unfortunately, I had already pulled the bait past me and was not able to swing into an L-turn and figure-8.  Yes, yes, I know, figure-8 on EVERY cast!  The fish was not fired up and I doubt it would have ate, but I am still kicking myself for screwing up.  Oh sure, you know I tossed back several more casts, switched to a throw-back bait and threw it several times too, but nothing.  “There she was, gone.”

And you know what that means.

I’ll be back!

All of those fish were caught from public waters in Nebraska, and yep, every one of them was released!

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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