By Marc Rogers
Fall Stream Fishing for Bass
Fall is just around the corner and many sportsmen will be putting away their rod and reel and getting out their hunting equipment. However, for those of us that are avid anglers the fall season can pay big dividends.
Sure, you have heard it all before. “Some of the best fishing is in the fall.” The lakes and reservoirs play host to the bass chasing schools of bait fish to put on weight before the up coming winter months. Some say the bass are easy to catch in the fall. I don’t think they are ever easy, some days are just more productive than others.
While most anglers are fishing these “big waters” this fall, I can be found chasing Smallmouth Bass in the Ozark streams. If you have ever considered stream fishing you too should give it a try this fall. You can enjoy the same benefits as on the lakes and reservoirs but this kind of fishing requires no expensive equipment or boat.
All you need is a rod and reel, a small box of lures and the energy to walk several miles of stream. Most of my wading is done with old tennis shoes and shorts, but if the water is too cold I opt for waders instead. Waders can extend your stream fishing season late into the year. However, if walking is not your idea of fun, there are alternatives. There are many canoe rental outfitters that offer numerous different float trips and are willing to give information about fishing as well.
There are many choices when it comes to streams. Many of the larger ones are clearly indicated on state road maps and are used by float trip outfitters. These are easy to find and do have some great fishing. When fishing these larger streams I suggest you do so on a weekday. But if your only opportunity is on weekends ask the canoe outfitter to take you to areas that receive less pressure from recreational floaters. Also, don’t rule out using the same accesses the outfitters use but wade the stream instead of floating it.
My personal choice for stream fishing is to fish the ones that are not on any map. Yes, these tiny streams do hold some good fish. I have caught Smallmouth in the four-pound class in these tiny creeks and have friends who have caught both Smallmouth and Largemouth that exceeded five pounds. You can gain access to these creeks from state highway bridges, but most run through private land and I suggest you get permission from the landowner before setting out on your journey.
The most productive areas in streams are the deep holes created by fallen trees and their root wads. Fish these areas very thoroughly because they have everything a bass needs for survival. Remember, deep water is relative to the water around it. In a stream deep water may be only a few feet deep.
As for equipment I keep it as simple as possible. I use one medium-action casting outfit most of the time. However, if you are more comfortable with spinning or spin-cast equipment it is what you should use. I like the casting outfit because a high-speed reel allows me to work a variety of fast moving baits.
In my small strap on tackle box I keep several different lures. Included in this box are small soft plastic crawfish and worms. A few crawfish crankbaits and floating minnow imitators are a must. Also, don’t forget a top water prop bait; I prefer the Devil’s Horse. I saved the best for last; spinnerbaits in the one-quarter and three-eighths ounce size and buzzbaits in the one eighths and one-quarter ounce size are my personal favorite. As you can tell from my lure selection I don’t use tiny baits. I find by using larger lures I tend to catch larger (keeper size) fish than when using ultra light lures.
Now that you have an idea about the possibilities of stream fishing, you owe it to yourself to experience stream fishing in the fall. Whether wading or floating you will find the un-crowded streams very peaceful and may have several miles of stream all to yourself.