Have a fall fishing game plan before hitting the water
So often, guys at the boat landing or bait shop will tell me they’re fishing for “whatever bites.” They’ll drop a bobber with a worm and see what happens. It’s better to concentrate on one species, and have a game plan. I can’t emphasize enough the need for planning your fishing, then fishing your plan. This definitely comes into play when targeting bigger fish. Too often we assume that every lake offers large fish, but that’s not true, and we can’t catch a fish that doesn’t exist.
Before fishing a new lake, engage your angling network. Get local updates from bait and tackle shops, from fishing reports in Outdoor News, as well as friends and family with experience on a particular water body. Find lake surveys that will reveal – via creel reports and test netting – what’s in a lake. Bottom line, we need to establish a foundation of knowledge to create our fishing plan.
One of the first items I analyze is the food sources on a specific lake. Is there enough? Look for sunfish as forage for big bass, small minnows for crappies, and gizzard shad or perch for walleyes. A mixture of forage is a good thing:
Thumbs-up to any lake report that mentions perch, tullibees, and mayflies.
Still, beware if there’s too much of a good thing. A lake with a lot of small sunfish may be unbalanced and overpopulated.
Examine obvious structural locations on a lake and consider how different calendar periods, weather, and fishing pressure will affect fishing success in those regions. Mark top spots with your GPS or a hydrographic map.
Trust your electronics. Many people tell me they don’t trust their electronics, but they should. Fish may be down there but simply not biting. If you’re marking fish, try something else to entice them.