Taking advantage of shorter days and autumn heat for successful midday fishing

Peterson’s daughters with mid-afternoon pike. Fall fishing is often most productive during the hours of the day when the water temperatures peak.

I’ll admit, I don’t fish as much in the fall as I’d like. There is just too much hunting opportunity to justify much time in the boat. That doesn’t mean I don’t like targeting bass and other fish in September and October, because I certainly do.

In fact, I spent a few days in the boat this past weekend, though I struggled. The wind blew for three days ahead of a warm front, and things were tough. I started out on smallmouth and couldn’t get them to even consider eating, which was deflating.

Their unwillingness to eat meant that I was going to break a promise to my daughters, who had their hearts set on a few bronzebacks on topwaters. In a panic, I switched to pike, a far more reliable option. A few of them decided to chomp swimming jigs, so we were in business as far as action.

We also spent some time on largemouth, but they were sitting tight in the dying weeds and daintily eating jigs instead of inhaling them. That’s not the kind of fishing that appeals to 5-year-olds, or is even possible for them.

So it was back to the northerns.

We caught most of our fish from about noon to 5 p.m., and that’s not an overly rare situation as the days get shorter. The fish will put on the feedbags and eat this fall yet, but when you’re dealing with frontal conditions, a fair amount of the action attaches to the warmest water temperatures of the day.

The good news is that you can sleep in and still take advantage of the best bite of the day. The bad news is, the window is short. It’s still better than not being on the water, however. If you hope to eke out a few more days in the boat this year, consider what the water temperature will be doing throughout your time on the lake and plan accordingly.

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