Fall time is the right time

Labor Day is past. It’s the beginning of fall and so it’s time for me to write my annual column touting the benefits of fall fishing. In my humble opinion, fall is the second best time to be on the water. For a lot of anglers it’s the best time.

You can catch bigger bass in the spring. There’s no doubt about that. That’s why I have to say spring is my favorite time to go bass fishing. In truth, though, they’re harder to find and harder to make bite. Every change in the weather repositions them and the slightest thing can turn them off. Spring fishing isn’t as easy as it’s sometimes made out to be.

Fall is easier. You know they’re in the creeks and sloughs chasing forage. Find the shad and you’ll find the bass. Lure selection is easy at this time of the year, too. They’ll hit topwater plugs, shallow crankbaits, plastic minnows and spinnerbaits without a second thought. You also know that numbers wise you’ll catch more fish at this time of the year. It’s an anglers dream.

Most of the recreational boats are off the water, especially during the week. If you’re lucky enough to be able to get off work in the middle of the week during a cold snap you may be the only boat on the lake. As far as I’m concerned, that’s about as good as it can get. Catch a few fish, eat a bologna sandwich, and then go catch a few more fish.

To explain why I think about fall the way I do, let me tell you a short story. About 10 years ago I made a fall trip to Lake Erie. A friend and I caught smallmouth bass until our shoulders and arms were sore from setting the hook. Our best five weighed 29 pounds, 12 ounces. That’s a big bag of brown bass, folks.

Included in our day’s catch was a 6-pound, 3-ounce beauty. At the time, it was the biggest smallie I’d ever caught, and bigger than my friend’s lifetime best. I pointed that out to him. It wasn’t very long before I was holding the other end of the stick, however. He had one that pushed 7 pounds. We both laughed until we had tears in our eyes. My record lasted about an hour. It’s the kind of experience you never forget. We relive that day every fall as we travel to Lake Erie with the hope of doing it again. 

Stories like that are why I’m writing this column today. Fishing is the finest activity on planet Earth, regardless of whether you do it professionally or just for fun. It’s fine to be a professional angler and work hard to catch bass no matter what the conditions. If you’re a recreational angler, however, it’s all about the experience. Take what Mother Nature gives you and go with it. Fall time is the right time.

Next week, I’ll get back to telling stories from the trail.

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