Fall is a good time for fishing

September 12, 2004|by BILL ANDERSON

Although hunting is the main interest in the fall, this also is a time of great fishing opportunities. If you are fishing for bass or walleyes in lakes, you may hear anglers talking about the upcoming "turnover" and how it will affect fishing.

Opinions on the effect of turnover and how it affects fishing may vary, but most agree that it is good for fishing.

The simple explanation of turnover is that it is a process lakes go through if they have layers of warm and cold water, also called a thermocline. In many lakes the water column is made up of layers of water with varied temperatures. The warmest water will be at the top or surface, while the coldest (heaviest) water will be at the bottom. Trout fishermen know this is the reason why many great trout streams are fed by waters released from the bottom of lakes. This constant source of cold water makes for ideal trout habitat.


The actual process of turnover can take days or weeks depending on the wind and weather. With the first cold nights of the fall, the surface water will begin to cool, and wave action against the shorelines will help the cool surface water mix with the water below.

This continues until there is the turnover where the water from the surface trades places with the water that had been in the layers below the surface.

Most fishermen look forward to the turnover of a lake, because it seems to energize the entire lake. On many lakes, a sign of turnover is that some of the aquatic weeds die which creates floating mats of cover for fish. The fish seem to sense that winter is approaching and that it is time to get ready for cold weather.

One typical pattern is that the bass move into shallow waters they have been out of since spring, and shallow fish are always easier to catch than fish in deep water. One good fall pattern is to hit the flats and points adjacent to the deepest water in the lake. The fish seem to stage at different points throughout the turnover process, adjusting their position as the turnover progresses.

One of the most consistent patterns for locating bass during this period is to use lures that cover a lot of water such as spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Crayfish are a major food source in most lakes and a crayfish-colored crankbait that makes frequent contact with the bottom is often a great choice, particularly around rocky shorelines, flats and points.

Another approach that often works well is to use topwater lures. When fishing for bass, my favorite topwater is a Zara Spook. Topwater lures can work throughout the day in the fall, so don't be afraid to try topwater at any time of day.

The early fall period is often one of the best of the entire season. If you pay attention to some of the natural occurrences of fall such as turnover, you will be better prepared to take advantage of the opportunity.

Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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