Fall time is now time

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

Back in the spring I remember writing a column talking about not waiting too long to get started fishing, that the fish start moving earlier than a lot of anglers think. The same thing happens in the fall. Now is the time to start your planning, and maybe even your fishing, for the fall migration.

Seasonal fish movements are about much more than just water temperature. I know the water is still warm — downright hot in some places — but that doesn’t mean the fish aren’t able to sense that fall is on the way. They know when the days are getting shorter and when the sun is dropping farther down in the sky towards the horizon.

Over the years I’ve come to believe that these factors are as important as water temperature, maybe more so in some cases. I say that because the water stays warm longer than most anglers realize. It’s not hard to find water temperatures in the 70 degree range well into late October or early November. No matter, the fish are in their fall patterns.

That may not be exactly true way up north. But if it isn’t, that just means that everything I said is even more to the point right now in early August. Fall will be with you guys earlier than it is for the rest of us.

The effects of the shorter days and lower sun position will probably be more pronounced this year because of all the rain we’ve had and the somewhat cooler temperatures in many parts of the country. You’ll recall we discussed that in last week’s column when we talked about fishing too shallow this summer.

Another thing that happens is that water levels in manmade reservoirs are pulled down in anticipation of the coming spring snow melt and rain.

Don’t ever kid yourself, the fish sense things like that. They may not know what it is, or why it’s happening, but they know about it, and they know what it means. The fish that are living in these bodies of water have experienced these water fluctuations every year for as long as they have been alive, and so did many generations of fish before them. They do more than just react to it. They live their lives according to it.

Everything I just mentioned is happening right now, with the possible exception of dropping water levels if you’re talking about a natural lake. That means you should be gearing up for fall, and doing it right now. Break out your minnow imitating lures and your reaction baits. If you don’t need them today, you will need them in the near future.

Some believe that we should wait until after Labor Day to do this. I don’t agree. Labor Day is an artificial marker that means nothing to a fish. He or she doesn’t know and doesn’t care about our political history. All they do is live in the conditions they have with the tools Mother Nature gave them.

Start your seasonal approaches earlier than you normally do. It’ll make a big difference in your catch.

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