The Changing of the Seasons
By Garrett Mercer
When the days begin to get shorter, the weather cooler, and the leaves begin to change colors on the trees, it means one thing, summer is ending and the fall and winter months are close by. As the fall and winter months arrive, we change our patters as humans, and we need to realize that fish do too.
Many anglers despise the fall and winter months, however, they can be great times to fish. Though it can often be difficult to locate and catch the larger fish within the western bodies of water this time of year, the numbers of fish you catch can be just as good if not better than the spring and summer months.
There are many advantages to fishing during the fall and winter months. First, there is less pressure on the lake. Secondly, during the transition from summer to fall and into winter, you can often catch fish on many different patterns. One thing to remember is during these transition times fish are at a variety of depths. Often, as fall is coming, there are still a few fish to be caught on top-water baits in shallow water, and then as we enter the winter months the fish tend to move off the bank into deeper water.
Tips for the Transitional Months
Explore! The important thing to do when fishing in the fall is to explore a variety of depths, areas, and baits. Early fall fishing hinges on the weather conditions you are facing. I can recall seasons in the late 1990ís in San Diego when the top water bite was great all the way through the beginning of December, yet more times than not, it has vanished by early October. This is why itís important to search fish various depths. Often, the weather in fall can be erratic and unstable, so when searching for patterns look for multiple patterns. When the weather changes, fish in shallower water will be more affected than those in deeper water. Having multiple patterns available for your next tournament will create more success on the water. As I previously stated, donít be afraid to try a variety of baits. During the transitional months, you can usually find both active fish and staging fish.
Winter months can often be the most difficult months to fish. Anglers face cold weather, rain, hail, sometimes, even snow, but lets face it, as western anglers we have it easier than the rest of the country. We still get to take out boats out on the lake as opposed to snowmobiles and ice fishing huts. During these months fish often tend to group up in stages on deeper structure, often schooling-up in deep water feeding on baitfish. They will often position themselves around deeper creek channels, points, or breaks in depth.
The first tip for winter is; donít be afraid to fish too deep! Often, fish position themselves from 40í-60í and itís not uncommon to catch fish out of 70í of water. When fishing this deep, itís critical to have the proper gear. First, using fluorocarbon line is a must; I will always use Maxima Fluorocarbon from 6# to 12#. Next, you must use a sensitive rod to produce the best results. When fishing deep, the bites will be very faint, which is why using a sensitive rod, such as a DX 702 SF Dobyns Rod, and fluorocarbon line will help you feel those bites better when fishing a deep drop-shot. Secondly, remember to slow down in the winter months. Fish become lethargic during the winter months, and are not active enough to chase fast moving baits, so remember to work your presentation slowly. A dead-stick approach with a worm can often produce great results. Thirdly, remember to keep your eyes on your electronics. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how often you can find schooling fish during the winter by paying attention to your electronics. So next time youíre debating about going out in the cool fall weather for a day of fishing, give it a shot, you might be surprised how good the fishing can be!
Garrett Mercer is a Licensed Fishing Guide in California and is sponsored by Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Outboards, Strike King Lures, Maxima Fishing Line, Plano Storage Systems, Dobyns Rods, KeelShield and SdFish.com