by Tim Moore
Fall is just around the corner and I wanted to focus on some opportunities that many anglers miss. As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, lakes and ponds begin to cool, which causes fish species such as crappie and northern pike to begin feeding aggressively. They do this to prepare for the impending winter. This increased feeding activity creates some excellent fall angling opportunities.
In the fall, lakes experience a phenomenon called “lake turn-over.” As surface water cools it becomes denser, causing it to sink and force warmer water to the surface, which then cools, and the process repeats itself. Sometimes a lake can turn over in a couple of days, but it usually takes a week or more. This rapid cooling triggers small bait fish to school up over lake basins, which in turn draws in schools of crappie. On overcast days with light winds anglers should head for any lake basin and proceed to make drifts across it until they locate a school of crappie. Look for the fish to be suspended about half way down in the water column. Lightly jig a ¼-ounce non-lead jig head with a soft plastic, such as the Live Baby Shad, from Lake Fork Trophy Lures as you drift and you’ll catch fish.
My absolute favorite species to fish for in the fall is northern pike. Pike become much more aggressive in the fall and will often feed all day. There are a couple of different lure types that will catch pike. Soft plastics are my favorites. I invented a lure called the Whisperer, which is made by Daddy Mac Lures. When pike are in very shallow water, two feet or less, they cannot resist this lure. Rig it on a 3/0 Trokar offset hook with no weight and twitch it through shallow flats. Be ready to set the hook when the water erupts.
When pike are a bit deeper another great lure to try is the Juice Mini 8, from Bigtooth Tackle Company. The Juice Mini 8 is a dual-blade inline bucktail spinner that fishes slow allowing you to fish in much shallower water than you would think. The large dual blades create a ton of vibration, which will cause large angry pike to strike as if they didn’t have a choice. Also, don’t forget your steel leaders to avoid getting bitten off.
As summer begins to turn into fall, be sure to take advantage of some of the great fall fishing opportunities to be had. You will experience some of the best fishing of the year. Be on the lookout for cool, clear nights and get out there the next morning. A morning fog on the lakes means the air is cooler than the water, which means the lakes will soon turn over, and the fish will feed more often.
Tim Moore is a nationally-recognized professional angler and fishing guide. He owns and operates Tim Moore Outdoors, LLC. He is a member of the New England Outdoors Writers Association and the producer of Tim Moore Outdoors TV. Visit www.TimMooreOutdoors.com for more information.