As fall starts to transition into winter, air and water temps begin to drop. The falling temperatures have a direct impact on the whites and hybrids. A couple weeks ago when the temps were in the mid 50s it was a feeding frenzy fish were wrecking shad all over the lake, I’m pretty sure the fish were having a shad eating contest. This time of year especially here in the Midwest can be difficult on everyone including the fish one day it’s 50 degrees and sunny, the next 28 degrees and snowing. The inconsistency of the weather makes it very hard to pattern these fish, knowing what kind of water the fish should be in really helps locating them, but these fish are roamers and nothing is a sure thing.
Fall can be almost as good as Spring for targeting whites and hybrids on the fly. The water begins to cool and the fish move from the depths to start terrorizing shad in shallower water. The hot spots are typically the main lake points, old road beds and river channels, and wind blown banks. These fish are structurally oriented just a little different structure than your large and smallmouth bass. The points and wind blown banks are where we focus most of our energy. The fish are shallow enough to get to with a fly even with a floating line when they’re hugging the banks. If it’s windy enough to create a mud line fishing the lines can be productive as well. Depending on the depth of the point it may require a sink tip to get into their feeding zone. The fish can really feel the cooler weather coming on and start loading up on shad to get them through winter. Towards the end of fall the fish start transitioning in to the wintering areas.
When the water on the lakes drops into the 40s the fish really start to slow down. There’s definitely still fish to be caught but they move into deeper water making it harder to get to on the fly. Locating them can be more a challenge, but they will feed on shad all winter long. The best places to target them are in the local tailwaters and the power plant lakes. In the tailwaters I like to focus on the current breaks, eddies, and seams. Really any spot that provides and ambush point. We’re lucky enough to have some warm water power plant lakes in the area, which can provide productive fishing all winter long. The major reasons these are so productive are first the temps the water coming out of the power plant is usually in the 60s. Two the water coming out provides a current and these fish are “river fish” and love moving water. I fish sink tips 100% of the time when fishing moving water. The warm water in the power plants have the fish so confused they don’t know which way is up, it’s spring all year long.
Whites and Hybrids primary food source is shad, both gizzard and thread fin shad. Flies should resemble the baitfish. Some of my favorite are: SF minnows weighted and un-weighted, game changers, and deceivers. I said it before but I throw sink tips in the moving water 100% of the time. I want to get the fly down in the feeding zone as quick as possible. My favorite flies are the synthetic SF fiber minnows. You can trim them to match the size of baitfish without sacrificing movement. Most saltwater style baitfish patterns are very effective on these fish.
Un-Weighted SF Minnow very effective thrown on a sink tip.
Lefty’s Deceivers are another great pattern for targeting these fish.
Weighted SF Minnows are always at the top of my list. Weighted with Fish Skull Baitfish Heads.
There’s some good fishing to be had if you’re willing to get out and fight the cooler weather.
The cooling water temps really have the hybrids active, the last couple days we’ve fished in the morning and on the way to the lake Sunday my car was saying it was 28 degrees. The sun being on the water has been a good thing, water temps have been in the upper 50s which is ideal for catching these guys in the fly, they’ve moved up into shallower water we’ve found them on the down wind side close to the bank and on ledges next to drop offs. I would get out as much as possible the next couple weeks hopefully these water temps will hang on for a bit but the overnight lows have started to really drop. Throw anything that looks like a shad, I’ve been fishing a 4.5 inch feather game changer on a sink and have picked up a few. We’ve been missing way more fish than we’ve been landing. Get out before it gets too cold.
A few of the highlights of Parkers recent trip, some solid night time browns.
The ever so popular basic fly casting class this Saturday @ K&K, still a lot of fishing to do might as well learn to cast a fly rod for FREE class starts at 9.
It kind of feels like school just got out for the summer and I blinked and it was time for it to start up again. Much like the spring this summer has been kind of ridiculous weather wise. Most the rivers are too low to float, at the lakes guys are driving their trailers off the backs of the ramps, one of my favorite white bass spots at Smithville is about ankle deep. I've heard some rumbling a couple lakes they're going to start pulling water out of to help farmers. We need rain or it's going to be a long fall. We got a little the last couple days not enough to fill any lakes or ponds but at this point anything has to help. I'm looking forward to the fall fishing for sure.
I moved over the summer and that's my excuse for doing such a shitty job on keeping up on the blog. We've settled and in and now I can start making the time. I've also recruited a couple shop guys Parker and Brad to help out filling some of the content. Which I'm pretty excited to see how all that shakes out, both dudes are really fishy and spend most of their free time worrying about where to fish next, much like I do. I'm also stoked about some new fly tying videos I've been working on gonna try to shake it up a bit. Stay tuned....
Restocking some of the local bins and K&K Fly Shop with some new foam flies. We've still got plenty of topwater season left. Pick some up, the frogs go fast.
I love fishing frogs, pretty cool articulated frog and its still frog season.
Demo day this Saturday at K&K, come get a hot dog and cast some new rods from Sage and Redington. Always fun to check out some new gear.
We spent 5 days up in Wisconsin this past week chasing wild little spring creek trout and a half a day chasing smallmouth. The smallie plans kind of got ruined by a loss u bolt on the boat trailer but with the help of a local tow truck company and a local power sport store I was able to track down a new trailer and we still got a few hours to hit some smallie water. Trip had some ups and downs, several fish got caught and even more beers got drank. Fun week in the upper midwest.
I'm really not sure what it stems from and really unsure what the hang up is, I feel like in most aspects of my adult life I'm fairly well adjusted. Maybe it's from being a spoiled kid or maybe because I'll do whatever I can in my power to make something happen or maybe because I'm laid back with everything else in my life......I can't hardly handle when things don't go my way. I don't mind a good ass kicking from the fish usually it means I've learned something or even lights more of a fire making me want to catch every single fish in the lake. Those bad days happen it's fishing but to get beat down for the majority of the spring has been humbling and frustrating. The variables I can control I do my best to control. The weather and mother nature are one of those variables I cannot. Sure we caught fish but nothing even relatively close to springs past in both quality and quantity.
I sort of feel abused, not the mean kind of bullshit abused but more like the consensual kind of abuse like mother nature threw me in her basement and went 50 shades of gray on me all spring long. You spend all winter tying flies and drinking countless fifths of bourbon waiting on Spring, just waiting for April. We caught fish in February and March, but April is the big show. April is when whites and hybrids start to run and large female bass can be caught fueling up before the spawn. The biggest factor is water temps and they didn't really happen, for the majority of the month water temps barely made it into the 50s. Oh I forgot to mention I took the whole month of April off to fish. It was the coldest April I can remember not brutally cold but just cold enough to keep things from happening. I never remember needing long underwear to go turkey hunting. We dealt with this NE wind the majority of the month which didn't really help anything, winds blowing along the dams on the lakes I typically hybrid fish, we never really got that wind to blown in which real helps. Now it's May and we're dealing with low water and temps in the 90s, so much for that enjoyable Midwest spring weather. Stocking caps to flip flops....maybe Al Gore is right and global warming isn't some made up voodoo witchcraft, not sure I just know this Spring sucked.
This spring did suck, I'm over it and now after typing this ready to move on. If shitty spring fishing is all I've got to complain about then it should be a good year. All I know that once the shad start schooling up it's going to be a different story.
The famous double haul class, Spring is windy so you'll want to have a good double haul in the back pocket to combat those winds. Learn to do it for FREE, this Saturday @ K&K class starts @ 9.
Really easy and effective, baitfish fly, I like the fact the color combos are endless, quicker to tie than a clouser, and that you can trim it to match the size of the shad. I'd get a few in the box, hybrids will probably be running hard in a couple weeks.
Weather doesn't look to great tomorrow, so might as well learn how to fish Patagonia. Clinic is FREE starts at 9 @K&K.
It's been a long winter and besides tying flies fishing has been to far in between. We were able to get out a few times for trout and the last few weeks have been able to slow strip some farm ponds. This week was the first really good warm water trip of the year. We found some warmer water and found some fish. They were eating pretty much anything shad/minnow looking and the best colors were grey and white. Things should start picking up over the next few weeks, some reports of whites starting to move around in the Ozark's so we shouldn't be too far behind, some warm windy days should start bring water temps up. If the weather cooperates I know I'll be out as much as possible.