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Time to Change Tactics for Fall

September 26, 2013

By Chris Erwin

While we may still have some summer like days, fall is coming and with it you need to change how you approach your day on the water. It’s no secret when fall makes its way here you need to start to think about shad.

Most of the lakes in Kentucky are stocked with shad, which play an important role in how fish feed all year. They become even more important as the water begins to cool and bass along with almost every other predator fish begin to tank up for winter.

If you happen to be one of the muskie anglers who have been waiting for the water temperature to fall under 80 degree, well your time has come to get back out on the water and hit the last half of the season. If you happen to be a multi-fish angler, as I feel I am, it’s time to adjust your gear.

If you don’t get what I am talking about, let me elaborate. When the water hits the 80s, I change over to straight bass gear in the heat of the summer. I reduce line weights to 10 to 12 pound test. I do this because muskies tend to go deep, and I have no desire to catch them when the water is that warm. A muskie caught in deep water and then put through the release process is almost certain to die when the water is that warm so I just don’t fish for them until the water cools.

The other reasons I go to light line is the water is usually very clear and light lines tend to catch more fish. However, the time has come to rig up a muskie rod if you happen to be fishing in lakes where they reside.

I have received a few letters from new anglers asking me how they should rig for muskie. I can tell you if you talk to a dozen people you are likely to hear almost that many ways to rig your gear. This is how I do it: I use a 6 ½ to 7-foot rod medium heavy action with a fast tip. I use an open-face casting reel with a minimum of 25-pound test. I usually use a small diameter 40-pound test line on my main muskie rod.

Speaking of rods, for muskie I use a long straight handle one I can hold with both hands. This way, I can use my wrist to cast instead of my shoulder. This will reduce becoming arm weary and prolong how long you can cast these large baits.

Bait fish schooling near channel trees, as seen by a depth finder. (Photo by Scott Doan).

Bait fish schooling near channel trees, as seen by a depth finder. (Photo by Scott Doan)

When we talk about shad, it has been my experience to explore any standing trees. If you happen to be fishing on a river or where there is a current, the outside bends tend to be a good place to start. Shad also school up on points and flat edges. Your depthfinder can begin to earn its keep as we move into fall too.  It may not put you on fish but it should give you a good idea of where the bait fish are at different times during the day.

While it’s still warm, the early and late periods will continue to be the most active. However, as the fall approaches winter, midday will be your most active periods. Learning where the shad are at different times during the day will improve your success.

I am still looking for some anglers in the Paintsville area to help me add Paintsville to my fishing report. If you fish this area on a regular basis, please contact me. I would love to hear from you.

Chris can be reached by email at trimmer308@windstream.net




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