Fall time is the best time

SEP 25, 2013     By Charlie Hartley

It’s fall. That means the best fishing of the year is going to happen in the next few weeks. I write about this almost every year. There’s a reason for that. If you’re a recreational angler who wants to catch fish, and have a good time doing it, now’s the time to get started.

To begin with, there’s a lot less traffic out there right now. The ramps — at least in the Midwest — are mostly empty. You can fish in peace and quiet. It’s better for you, and it’s better for the fish. They’re not so skittish from all the boat traffic and all the fishing pressure.

The real reason the fishing is so good, though, is that every bass in the lake is going on the feed. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. At the same time the sun is dropping lower in the sky. It’s less intense. That triggers an instinct in the bass that says it’s time to fatten up for the winter. They’ll eat just about anything in sight.

Even better, because the shad and other baitfish have already moved shallow, the bass are feeding shallow. We all know that is almost always easier to catch shallow bass than it is to catch deep bass.

I was out the other day on a heavily fished, relatively small public lake here in Columbus. I caught a boatload of bass almost within sight of the ramp. It was like nothing I’ve seen in a while, especially on that lake. I’ll admit that they weren’t all that big but they were bass. It worked out just fine for a day of relaxing recreation on the water.

Another thing about fall is that the fish aren’t so weather dependent like they are in the spring. I know a lot of anglers say that springtime is the best. They base that mostly on the fact that you can catch your biggest bass of the year in the spring. I can’t argue with that. It’s true. At the same time, however, it’s only true if the weather cooperates.

Spring bass are very susceptible to changes in the weather. A hard cold front will turn them off in a minute, and they sometimes stay turned off for two or three days. That doesn’t happen very often in the fall. For the most part fall bass will feed through anything until the water gets so cold that they turn lethargic.

There is one exception to what I just said, however. In small, shallow bodies of water a strong cold front will sometimes put them off the bite for a day or so. But that’s only on those types of waters. Otherwise, most bass will hit anything from topwater plugs to jigs with abandon regardless of what’s going on with the weather.

Take some time to go bass fishing this fall. You just might put together the bag of your fishing life. That bag might not hold the biggest fish of your life but that won’t matter much when you’re sitting by the fire telling your friends how many you caught.