Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Feeding frenzy is on its way

Crappies are a top target of fall anglers
             There is no doubt that fall is in the air; cool crisp breezes, nighttime temperatures dipping into the forties and fifties, and leaves are beginning to change colors.  If you haven’t noticed these things, you must be one of those people that are trying to hang on to summer as long as you can.  The signs are there, and fall is here.  These signs from Mother Nature also bring on some migrations that we cannot over look.  I am speaking of the panfish migration and the feeding frenzy that follows.
               As many of you know, I am a die-hard bass fisherman.  However, this time of year as the bass tournament trails wind down, my focus starts thinking about that panfish migration that occurs in area lakes.  Besides early May, the rest of September and a few weeks into October can be the best panfishing you can find all year long.  In Central Iowa, the crappies and bluegills go into a feeding frenzy, knowing that winter is just around the corner. 
                When we really start to dissect and try to understand fish, then this migration really becomes just a matter of eating.  All summer long bluegills and crappies have been feeding on insects, their larvae, small crayfish, minnows and other small fish.  As the weather cools the insects disappear, and the crayfish hibernate, leaving the panfish only one option to feed on.  I believe that this is the major factor of why panfish go into a long feeding pattern before the winter months, they know their time of eating a buffet all day long is almost gone.  This is one reason why fishing this time of year makes perfect sense.
                Another reason why panfish begin to feed is the water temperature.  Again, they know that winter is coming, and they know that the long days spent under the ice will result in little food.  Like a squirrel in October, they prepare for the long Iowa winter.  All fish are cold=-blooded creatures, so their bodies react to the water around them.  As they start feeling the cooler water temperatures they know that they should start to eat everything in site. 
                This mental state they have, to eat anything and everything, brings the panfish up shallow where there are sticks, rocks and weeds to find food in.  This is the main reason why people are very successful this time of year too.  Fish are much easier to catch when they are shallow, and fall is a time that they come back to the shorelines.    
For baits/tactics/and top fall fishing areas click HERE for the full article on the Times Republican Newspaper Wesite.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bitter...and Sweet

Last weekend marked the end of my tournaments for the 2012 fishing season.  It is always bitter-sweet when the time comes each year to realize that I won't be competing in any more bass tournaments.  I will still, of course get out and go fishing, but tournaments and the competition have helped make me the angler I am today.

My tournament season was a good one, several top 5 finishes and a couple of wins, I organized about a dozen bass tournaments as well, and they went off without a hitch.  So all in all, a good tournament season.

Bitter, that the competitive fishing season is done.  The 10-hour days on the water, the adrenaline that kicks in on tournament morning, and all the friends I see out on the tournament trails.

Sweet, that there will be no more 3am drives to the lake, I will be able to just fish for "fun", looking ahead to next years' challenges and the ice fishing season.

I guess one more sweet thing about the season coming to an end was that it occurred on my favorite body of water, Pool 9 of the Mississippi River.  I spent two days with good friend Don Henry chasing bass on the northern part of that pool both days.  We had to of caught around 80 or bass in two days, and I squeaked out the tournament win, and big bass.  Don and I also won the team portion of the event too.  The event was a small club tournament, but we couldn't have done much better, which I am proud to say.

It only took two keeper bass to win my last event of 2012,
but after driving 7 hours, and awake at 5:30am both
days, I was very pleased with the outcome.

Another bass tournament year is in the books, and after I make it out on the ice a dozen or so times fishing, then I will look forward to the 2013 bass fishing season.  Until then, it will be all about fishing for fun!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fall is finally here

I think I speak for a lot of people in Central Iowa when I say I am welcoming this cooler weather.  It seemed like there were so many days that us outdoorsman were trapped inside air conditioning when we should have been out fishing the past two months.  I got out plenty of times, but would have floated the boat much more with out those 95-plus degree days.  I say, bring on the fall weather!
Fall is always bittersweet for me, as I know winter is coming, and the boat will be put away for the year.  However, on the other hand it means that ice fishing is around the corner.  This year, though, as of right now, I do not even want to think about putting the boat away yet.  Fall can be the best time of the year to catch fish.  Most anglers would say spring, but weather can really dominate spring flurries of fish biting, while the milder and timid weather changes in the fall can ignite great fishing for several weeks, not just several days as in the spring.  Another thing that you will see during the fall months is less fishing pressure.  There are a lot of outdoorsman/women who put there rods and reels away to get out the bow and arrows and firearms for the upcoming hunting seasons.  I hunt for a couple days for deer each year, but that is really about all the time I want to commit to hunting, I am all about the catching when it comes to fall. 

Fall can be an awesome time of the year to
fish for any species.  However, I like to target
bass, both green and brown.

As stated, fall can be the best times of year to catch fish.  Here are a few quick tips for your next time out on the water.  First, hit the rivers.  Small interior rivers are fantastic during this time of year.  Rivers will generally cool down quicker than lakes and this puts the fish into a feeding frenzy.  All species will seek out current seems to load up on minnows, and other prey during this time of year.  As for the Mississippi River, well if you ask me there is no better place to go after Labor Day in the entire state.
Another tip for you during the fall is to use bigger baits when the weather is favorable.  This time of year the fish are eating the largest prey they have all year long.  Minnows, shad, crawfish are all the biggest they will be, so make your baits large when the weather is favorable, and go to smaller offerings when cold fronts dominate the weather pattern.
I wish you the best this fall, and remember water safety, as the water cools, the more dangerous it is to fall in.  Use the buddy system, and always have a plan for when things could go wrong.