The fall feed is in full swing. We’ve been catching smallmouths like crazy the last week or so. I talked to a guy the other day who said he had 50.
They seem to be everywhere ... or at least everywhere there are crawfish and shad, but that doesn’t come as any big surprise.
Here at Dale Hollow, the water temperature is in the low 60s, and the rains have lightened up a little bit. Most of the water I’ve seen is in pretty good shape — not too clear and not too muddy. Those are almost perfect conditions.
Some of the bigger fish have come from the rocks off jigs. I don’t really know for sure, but I think the crawfish are feeding up for the winter just like the bass. Anyway, they’re really active. That happens every year just before they hibernate for the winter.
I know a lot of you think it’s a little late for a crawfish-imitating jig, but that’s not true. Fish one around the rocks in deeper water — 20-30 feet — and you’ll be surprised at what you’ll be able to bring back to the boat.
My favorite jig is the MadWag Flippin’ Jig by Punisher Lures. I know it’s designed to flip, but the fish don’t know that, and I don’t care. What I like best about it is that it’s heavy. That gets it down where the fish are, and you can move it along without it riding up off the bottom.
If you’re not a jig man, that’s OK. You can still catch them on a spinnerbait around the grass and in the backs of creeks, especially after a rain. The shad are holding in those places, so the bite is pretty good right now. Don’t fish anywhere you can’t find shad, though. The bass won’t be there.
Be careful not to fall into the trap of fishing these lures too slow. Just because it’s cold to you and me doesn’t mean it’s cold to the fish. They’re feeling pretty good right now. Take advantage of that by moving your jig and spinnerbait fairly fast. You’ll get more bites that way.
My color choices are really simple. I pick a jig color that looks like a crawfish and a spinnerbait color that looks like a shad. You don’t need to get technical here. The fish are active, so I don’t think color is what really matters. It’s more about location and taking advantage of this bite until the water gets cold and it starts to slow down.
One other thing: Safety first! Despite what I’ve said about the fish liking 60 degree water, it can be dangerous. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be OK if you fall overboard. Make sure you wear a lifejacket and pay attention to what you’re doing.