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bigredgolf

Late Fall largemouth question

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I only caught the first LM bass of my life this year, on my 5-weight with some surface flies, at a small lake in NJ. I've since gone back a few times, and really loved it. One thing I love about it is the simplicity - no waders or boots, just a 5-weight and some poppers, basically.


Anyway, how does the colder weather coming in affect fishing for LM bass? Will I need to fish less in the morning and evening, and more during the middle of the day when things are warmer? I really know nothing about how to do this, but was considering heading back out this weekend. The last time I went out a couple weeks ago, the earlier morning was completely dead and around 11am, things were on fire.


Any help appreciated. Thanks!


Brian


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Hey man,

 

If your temps have been pretty decent for a sustained period of time, you can hit them pretty solidly all fall. I'd shy away from surface now (though you can probably get an eat or two still), and go to subsurface flies in the larger sizes.

 

Take a look at your lake right now, and determine which part gets sun first in the morning. The bait will congregate there, and so will the bass. look for subsurface vegetation and areas that stay warmer longer. Odds are the area on the lake that has the most time in the sun is your best bet. Around me in Ohio, its kind of the tail end of the fall gorge-fest that the bass get on before winter, I would assume the same for you. Once you find the spot, fish it mid to late day.

 

Thats not to say you cant hit them all year round until it freezes over. When it gets cold for extended periods of time, you have to change your tactics. "Low and Slow" becomes the name of the game. Seek out areas that have drop offs, tie a mid to large sized weighted fly on, and strip super slow. If you think you are going too slow, go slower. A fly that rides hook point up is a good bet (I like Ehlers' Grim Reaper). A slow twitchy retrieve works well. They won't move much to eat, and they definitely won't smash a fly like they do in early fall or the warmer months, so shorten your leader and use a sink tip if you have one. Stick the rod tip in the water if possible on the retrieve. You will feel the take better.

 

I've caught bass into late December on flies in more mild winters around here that didnt freeze out the lakes too early, its just a different game than the fast and furious warm months where you can basically piss a bass off enough to get him to eat.

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Great response, thank you. I had thought about time of day, but not about where in the lake is getting sun. Should be good. I'll post a follow-up in this thread after the weekend.


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No prob man, someone told me about the sun thing once, and it really helped target my bass fishing in less than optimal conditions. They also said in early spring, to look for the area of the lake with the most green vegetation for the same reason. Little fish will be there, and so will big fish.

 

Good luck.

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CR gave you some excellent info! Right now is the time to key on their chowing down for the winter. My last time out a Polar Fiber baitfish pattern was what they were interested in taking. ;)

 

In addition, as the waters cool down, it will usually become clearer as the microbes & other suspended stuff dies off & settles to the bottom. I've seen bass in Jan & Feb Sunning themselves near the surface many times. They may still move shallow if the waters warming up & there's food available so take that into consideration. On a few occasions I've seen them strike topwaters in the middle of winter, if there's a long warming trend, but those days are few. It's a great time to be on the water when it happens! A buddy & I had a day like that in Feb. many years back on a state owned pond here in MD. There was several days of unusually warm weather that week. The nights were in the upper 40's, but the days were in the mid 70's. The morning started very slow, but as the day warmed up, we had some hot action on bass, Pickerel & panfish. We didn't catch anything of great size, but those we did catch took most anything we tossed at them including some poppers. Best of all we had the pond to ourselves that day. Didn't even see another angler.

 

Also, some types of vegetation starts to die off as it gets colder. You won't often find them around that dying stuff, as the decay reduces the oxygen in the water. Look for living vegetation as CR said, if there is any.

 

I haven't done much winter fishing for many years as I've gotten older. But when I did, I liked to fish weedless rabbits strip flies that look like eels or worms. Dark colors such as black or purple usually worked best for me. They can be fished very slow, crawled over whatever is submerged on the bottom, as even in cold water that hair comes alive. You may not catch many or any bass in the cold water, but those you do hook up with are often a bigger size. :)

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Good stuff tidewater.  I've only ever gotten one fish on a topwater in the dead of winter.  It was a few seasons back when we had 40 degree temps through december, I went out just to cast a new "coldwater" line I got and tied a popper on.  I was surprised as heck when I saw a bass come up and suck down that 3/0 popper like a rainbow taking a dun. 


One thing I will add, if you happen across bass busting on shad in the shallows...a white crease fly is flat out unfair.


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Hey guys (OP here). Quick bass-related question - I am going to be visiting a friend in Indiana this year who has a ton of property with ponds stocked with bluegill, SM bass, and crappie. Is there any time during the year that would be best to go, if the bass fishing were the only consideration?


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Bigredgolf, IMO any time in the warmer months is good for bass. Usually starting in March (depending on where you are) & right through until cold weather shuts down the water. However, the best times generally may be the spring when they're starting to spawn or the fall when they're looking to fatten up for that long winter.

 

During the spawn they'll be interested in other things besides food, but will be protecting territory & nests from intruders. That's likely the best time to hook up with a really big girl who has not yet spawned. After they spawn the males still protect the nest for a period, and the females look to rest, then to feed.

 

Opinions vary greatly about fishing for them while on their nests. Myself, I rarely do it, primarily because my work schedule doesn't allow to get on the water very often during that time. I'm not opposed to it, but should I get the chance & hook up with a large fish, I would be sure to take a pic as quickly as possible & get that fish back in the water again as quickly as possible. I'm not a tournament angler, so that's a non-issue for me, but I wouldn't want to be removing them from a nest for any length of time as is done in tournaments. In smaller ponds it may not be a huge issue, but still it's not a bad idea to get them back in the water as quickly as you can.

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Agree with Tidewater, Spring and fall.  I like summer fishing with big stupid poppers (or MICE), but that is typically a cloudy day, evening thing,


I typically wait until a bit after the spawning period when the big females will get active and feeding again.  I'll fish the spawn too, but unless you catch it just right, you typically get average size males in my experience. 


Fall is my favorite.  They get straight up reckless when it comes to feeding.


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