As we roll into August I am transitioning into Fall season patterns for both warmwater and coldwater. Even though August is still a summer month, I always try to trend ahead of the pattern or at least be looking in that direction. Thinking ahead will often put you at the front of the pack in regards to catches.
We may actually see some real summer for a change with temperatures in the 90’s without daily storm barrages. But we are already past the summer equinox and the fish know it. The sun is the only real clock they have and even if it doesn’t feel like summer, the fish know what time it is.
Here is what is happening now. Bluegill and sunfish spawning is coming to a close. The once crowded shallows are becoming void of breeding activity and only occupied by fish looking for a snack. Most of these shoreline cruisers will be small. Most of the fish will or already are moving towards winter grounds in deeper water. Deep-water areas with structure and congregating baitfish nearby are prime targets for larger bass. On bigger waters like Pueblo, deep-water structure areas may require electronics to locate. Smaller waters like PX or Prospect Lakes in Fort Collins the structure is more visible. Focus on these areas and you have a higher percentage of finding fish. Fish that cling closer to the shoreline may be looking for anything that comes their way. Shore congregators are often willing to take a hodgepodge of lure types. I only focus on structure near the shoreline with deep water near by. This time of year those areas will hold fish as where shallow areas used for spawning will not.
Fall warmwater fishing for me is essentially a hunt for the biggest fish in the lake. This is the toughest hunt for me. By now the fish are “ultra-wise” or gone. Chances are they have seen every lure once or twice at least at places like Aurora Reservoir for example. The ultra-wise fish will have dialed in on the major food source and you need to present something very similar possibly with a very precise method. If the lake has a shad population, the angler should try and match that pattern. Seeing schools of “busting” fish is your key indicator where big fish are probably feeding.
(Above: Spinnerbait combos are something I have had off and on again success with as a late summer/fall pattern. Changing skirt colors as well as plastic trailers add more effect and help match forage patterns more precisely. This is my baby bass/green sunfish pattern.)
Size matters? Yes and no. Naturally by summer you want to transition to larger baits. Otherwise you are just beating off the recruit fish and as you have read in my blog…I’m throwing the largest flukes and senkos that I have and the dinks are still coming out of the woodwork. The same thing may only work for the bigger fish at certain times. Big fish get big by eating a lot and lounging around a lot. The big fish will binge feed, rest and then binge feed again. When I find fish that are reluctant to larger baits either through sight fishing or on the fish finder, I consider these fish to be resting or reluctant. Downsizing the bait or a slower presentation may be the ticket to make that fish say, “Ok, just one more bite.”
What really counts?
Being out there when the bite happens is so important. You can’t predict when the biggest fish will take a lure. Moon phases, spawning habits and other details only give you small clues. To fully grasp the entire puzzle you need to be out there fishing. The more you fish the more you will learn on your own. You may come across things that may actually disprove or go against what pro anglers and experts have been telling you. Fish follow patterns determined by nature. They do not follow rules written by anglers on blogs or fishing forums. The best tip any angler can give you for fall fishing is this: Don’t put your gear up yet. Some of the best fishing is just around the corner.
Good Luck and Good Fishing.