Late Season Warm Water Fishing
When cooler fall temperatures arrive we tend to think more and more about salmon and steelhead, but what happens to the bass, pike, musky and other warm water fish we’ve been targeting all summer? The fall months can bring some of the finest fishing of the year for warm-water species! Throughout the summer, water temperatures rise and fish may move into deeper water or thicker cover in order to find oxygenated water and favourable temperatures. These conditions can be responsible for some poor fishing, meaning the dog days of summer can leave you with not much more than a sunburn. Moving into September, October, and November fish start to prepare for winter by putting on the feedbag and begin the transition to more food rich areas. When the thermometer starts to dip the first thing to do is locate concentrations of bait, this could be shiners, panfish, shad, alewife or any other forage found in the waterbody you’re fishing. Consider the driving factors for where bait will end up, these include winds that push plankton and other food sources for bait to one side of a lake, or spawning habitat for the forage fish. Once you find the forage for larger fish, start with a fly that is close in size and colour of the food source and work it fairly quickly either through the area holding bait or nearby potential ambush spots. If the fish are active usually they’ll let you know fairly quickly, if not try changing the cadence of your retrieve before changing your fly pattern. When the temperatures drop still further, all fish tend to search out water with a higher oxygen concentration. As the aquatic vegetation dies off, the water around it becomes oxygen depleted and sparse weeds no longer provide enough cover for fish. If available, most species will move to areas that still possess healthy green plant life, as it is still producing oxygen and will provide suitable cover. During these months, finding bait is still important but you may find that metabolism of these warm water loving fish has slowed down, meaning you should adjust your presentation accordingly, using a slower retrieve for example. Another factor to consider when fishing later into the season is that over the course of the year, both sportfish as well as the bait that they feed on have grown in size, combined with the fact that fish want to exert as little energy as possible to gain the maximum caloric value per meal and it adds up to the chance to fish very big flies. Even mid-sized bass will take a chance at eating a 12” musky fly at this time of the year. When fishing the coldest months of November and December, try to pick warmer weather days, even a short warm spell can stir up previously inactive fish! Fall is a great time to hit water that most anglers have stopped fishing for the season and cash in on some truly amazing fishing as big aggressive fish are looking to put on weight for the winter!