Just because it’s hunting season doesn’t mean you need to put away those rods just yet!
The spring was awesome, summer was hot and fun, but there’s a chill in the air now. Time to store those rods away and dust off the camo and long rifle, right?
Summer has a way of draining the fast-paced excitement of spring fishing from the most avid of anglers, giving the illusion of “poor-fishing” until the next calendar year, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In reality, summer serves as a nice buffer to heal your hands and equipment from the onslaught of fish you worked through in March, April and May. Fall fishing presents the same opportunities of spring, just under different circumstances. Spring is fast-paced because it coincides with Oklahoma’s fish spawning periods. Fall is fast-paced for an even better reason, fish are gorging for the winter months.
Think of it this way, the spring bite is reactionary and defensive; fish are attempting to fulfill their life cycle’s obligation without disruption. The fall bite is predatory and anticipatory; fish are actively seeking food in all shapes and sizes. If anything, the fall offers the opportunity for new and intermediate anglers to get some use out of those power lures, such as spinnerbaits, crankbaits and topwater.
Bass fishing in particular is vastly improved in the fall months as water temperatures ease back into the mid-60s. At this time of year, bass will form loose schools and chase young-of-year bluegill, shad, shiners and other bait fish. Throwing a 1/16th oz. swimbait in shad color (I prefer pre-molded Storm WildEye swim shad) at your local pond in transition areas where shallow water gradually slopes to deeper water will typically find several decent largemouth bass. In larger lakes and reservoirs, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, shallow-diving lipped crankbaits and medium- to small-sized buzzbaits fished at medium- to fast-speed in the backs of coves and creek channels can yield quite the haul of black bass species and white bass.
Don’t forget about the streams. The Upper Illinois River in particular. By mid-October their is much less human activity on the river, and all of those lunker smallmouth bass are now more reachable. The water and air temperatures are generally still warm enough to wet-wade, and the bite is never better. Watch for a fall day in the 80s, pack those green pumpkin tubes and twin-tail skirted plastics, and drop a kayak in at any of the numerous public access points along Highway 10. Day use permits (wristband dated for the day of your trip) are $1 per flotation device per day and can be purchased ahead of time. They can be purchased at: Grand River Dam Authority Scenic Rivers Operations Office, Peyton’s Place Resort, Hanging Rock Camp, from GRDA Scenic Rivers Operations Police or Camp Host. Annual use permits are $10 per device and are good from January—December. They are decals to be affixed to the front right-hand side of your vessel. Annual permits can be purchased at the GRDA Scenic Rivers Operations Office.
- Skylar St. Yves is an information & education specialist for the Wildlife Department