August 16, 2022
By Terry Tuma
With the preponderance of specialized fishing gear and tackle these days, one might believe that hardcore anglers own specific tackle for every open-water season. My terminal tackle stays mostly the same after the hard-water disappears, but techniques and presentations change. There are ways to match that gear to just about any species during open water. That said, I make some changes to my mental and tactical approach for fall fishing. I start by thinking more aggressively.
By late summer, we sometimes hear about conditioned fish. When early autumn rolls around, yes, they might be conditioned, but hunger overtakes that conditioning. Less boating and other fishing pressure (noise) on the water helps, too.
Colder water initiates more intense feeding impulses with fish, so we can respond with more classically aggressive fishing tactics. They're looking for larger food sources prior to turnover, so we can troll crankbaits for walleyes, and I find casting crankbaits for bass also to be productive in fall.
Be willing to return to the old reliable, early season jig-and-minnow concept. That's not just a spring walleye tool. In fall on many local lakes, I'll also continue live-bait rigging, but I'll step up the size with leeches, shiners, or red-tailed chubs. Crawlers, of course, become less productive in cold water because they stiffen up and don't move as much.
For crappie fishing, think big, deep-water fish, and go with a three-way swivel setup. This allows you to troll, versus jigging for them.
I also change monofilament line at least every four to six months, because it simply wears out.
Good luck on the water this fall!