In keeping with the fall transition, I hit the water on our first really obvious fall day. The morning opened at 45F, and it warmed to just under 60F by 1130AM. BRRRR....It was a killer day -- an X!..&*^! -- as some of my fishing friends call it, but I won't really say what they call it here. Suffice it to say that when the skies clear, a front moves in, the wind kicks up, and the barometer soars many fishers start making excuses or hide from the water. My experience suggests: It just doesn't have to be that way!

In fact, just as many times in the past, I saw the conditions and jumped on the opportunity to get out there. Why? I knew few other fishers would venture out. Notice the chop on the water in the image above left. 5 to 15 mph wind was pushing that water.

When I get out like this, do I have a plan? YOU BET! First I have warm clothes on, and some hot soup in my thermos bottle. My rods and flies are ready to fish the water column from surface to 15 feet. After all, I can find bluegills, redear sunfish, green sunfish, crappies, and the other sunfish -- largemouth bass. They'll be somewhere between surface and 15 feet. This isn't something I just teach at seminars, and when I guide -- I DO THIS EVERY DAY that I fish! Then I ask the fish what THEY want. Once I know their preference, all I have to do is give it to them.

The quiet little spot (right) was a nice place to see if a pod of fish would be interested in a #14 black water spider. First I cast two feet from the tips of outstretched limbs. Then I cast to the edge and under the canopy. The fish were holding tight to cover, but would move a slight distance to blast my water spider. I fished the 150 foot stretch of bushes and caught 11 fish. Then I re-positioned my boat and cast the same water with my a shallow water suspending fly. I caught another 5 or 6 fish, this time as far as four feet from the bushes and three to four feet deep. I had a workable pattern.

The bluegill left was cold to the touch. Water surface temperature had dropped to 67.1F, a drop of more than 4 degrees F. Even I was noticing the temperature drop in the form of chill factor. A 60 temperature with 15 mph wind quickly feels like upper 40s temperatures.

Notice the #14 suspending fly in his gullet. He was one of the fish suspended deeper, out from the brush. I worked the most inviting cover along the bank, first with my little water spider, then with my suspending fly. I found just under 30 fish interested in this morning's menu. Having probed the best available water in this area, I cranked up and moved to work another spot.

Even though these fish are all sight feeders, today's water conditions weren't optimum. Most days, the water in this lake is VERY clear. This day, the lake had just turned over and nutrients from the lower reaches of the water column had been rolled to the top layer. The result was water clouded with nutrients and phytoplankton blooming. This always slightly impacts the fish, but fish have to eat. Get your fly in front of them, and you'll see what I mean.

The fat bluegill right is photographed with my little sponge spider that he found so tempting. Again, I probe the water, first on surface with my water spider, then one to four feet deep with my suspending fly. The presentation for the water spider. Plop it down hard to get their attention on the active surface (lots of wave action and chop) and let it sit. For the suspending fly, cast it, count it down, and strip it back in LITTLE strips.

The next step in my plan is to probe deeper water with my size 12 sinking streamer. This time of year with water temps dropping into the high 60s, it is a good time to probe shallow areas adjacent to deep water, especially in wood. When checking out this deeper water, one of my favorite surprises this time of year is fat crappies, that put up a great fight on ultralight fly tackle. Use the countdown method, 12 to 14 foot leader/tippet, sink the fly and watch for a pickup or tick on the drop. If no strike on the drop, strip back in short 2 inch strips. When strikes occur, just gently raise the rod.

This is a cool time of year, but the fishing can be hot. On this trip, I caught and released well over a hundred fish of multiple species in 4 hours of fishing. Fishing was slower, but the fish were willing. Just remember, You can't catch fish if you don't go fishing! Don't let a little front scare you off.


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